Portable snacks with USA (Brown) Rice

Rice. Such a versatile grain with so many different varieties. Nutrient rich and naturally gluten-free, rice is one of my favourite starches to work with. So naturally I was extremely happy to be invited to participate in the USA (Brown) Rice Blogger Challenge where I received three samples of brown rice with which to create a portable (i.e. can be eaten utensil-free and without additional preparation required) recipe made with brown rice.

I was intrigued by the short-grain brown rice and my mind immediately turned to something with a Japanese flavour.  A few years ago when Neil and I and some of our friends went on a cleanse (hey – don’t judge!), the only sort of starch we were really allowed was brown rice and our “exciting dining out” during one of the three weeks included brown rice sushi.  Since I don’t really “do” fish, and especially raw fish, I of course ordered vegetarian sushi (I know, I know, what’s the point. Again, don’t judge!) and was immediately hooked.  Now, when I eat sushi and it’s on the menu, I will always choose brown rice version. True, it doesn’t stick together as well as traditional sushi rice but I love the nutty flavour and the slightly chewier texture and it really works with Japanese flavours.

Something I have been meaning to try for a while that seemed like a perfect match for this challenge is onigiri, a traditional Japanese snack made from white rice and formed into triangular or oval shapes, often wrapped in nori (seaweed). Traditionally, they are filled with some type of salty (pickled) or sour ingredient which acts as a natural preservative. Onigiri are so popular in Japan that many convenience stores sell them whilst there are even specialized take-out onigiri shops! (Thanks Wikipedia for a quick primer!)

My friend Rachael did a wonderful blog post with step-by-step instructions for making these delightful Japanese snacks.  Traditionally made with regular sushi rice, I wondered if they might work with short-grain brown rice.  Since Rachael used leftover  flavoured rice, I needed to flavour my rice somehow and decided to use some of the same flavours I used in my contribution to the Peko Peko Charity Cookbook. I followed the directions I was given to cook the short grain rice (not in my rice cooker!) and it turned out perfectly.  You could, of course, use leftover rice like Rachael did.

For me, this dish, whilst not traditionally Japanese in its technique, worked really well as a “portable snack.” No reheating necessary, they travel well and require no utensils at all. Easy to make, easy to eat and no clean-up – what could be better?

For more information about rice, please visit the USA Rice website and don’t miss the how to cook rice videos!

Keep up with me this summer through my Summer 2011 Flickr set. I will be updating this with day to day pictures (read: not all food photos!) fairly regularly so head on over there if you are interested. You never know what or who you might see there, like, you know… Dorie….


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47 Responses to Portable snacks with USA (Brown) Rice

  1. Maya July 11, 2011 at 05:20 #

    My daughter loves to make onigiri so I will have to show her your fab version using brown rice. Hope you’re having a brilliant time in Paris!

  2. penny aka jeroxie July 11, 2011 at 08:06 #

    lovely idea! I wonder if I can do a wild rice version.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite July 18, 2011 at 14:56 #

      I am not sure wild rice would work because it is too long to stick together but you could try!

  3. Lori @ RecipeGirl July 11, 2011 at 09:24 #

    What a cool idea for a snack/appetizer. And such a healthy little treat too!

  4. Mushrooms Canada July 11, 2011 at 09:41 #

    Sooo easy… and I bet the flavours are out of this world!
    – Brittany

  5. leaf (the indolent cook) July 11, 2011 at 09:46 #

    I love mushrooms and I love onigiri… what a fantastic combination!

  6. Paula July 11, 2011 at 10:10 #

    Looks wonderful Mardi!

    P.S. I didn’t even know that you could get vegetarian sushi 🙂

  7. Kathleen July 11, 2011 at 13:19 #

    I love your creativity! These look delicious and fun at the same time! Great job!

  8. Belinda @zomppa July 11, 2011 at 16:18 #

    Loving this rice! Will have to definitely try.

  9. Heidi @ Food Doodles July 11, 2011 at 21:06 #

    Yummy! Those look so good. I’ve never made anything like these, but I’m going to bookmark these to try. They look so good and I bet my kids would like them 😀

  10. Ann July 11, 2011 at 22:09 #

    Looks delicious and healthy! Congratulations on the challenge!

  11. Melissa@EyesBigger July 12, 2011 at 02:52 #

    I have tried and tried and tried to like brown rice and I just can’t. I know I should. I know it’s far healthier but… it doesn’t do it for me at all. And I refuse to eat anything with mushrooms in it. icky!

    But, i HAD to comment anyway because, I LOVE your first photo! (the dipping sauce sounds pretty yummy too!)

  12. Jill Colonna July 12, 2011 at 05:12 #

    They look absolutely delicious. Love the idea and the Japanese flavours. Even better that they’re so healthy. Feel like dipping in there and feeling cleansed! (No, I’m not judging, lol) 🙂

  13. SMITH BITES July 12, 2011 at 10:37 #

    gorgeous Mardi – and these look like something i could put together and send w/The Professor for his lunch!

  14. Jessica July 12, 2011 at 12:00 #

    I absolutely loved snacking on onigiri growing up! It keeps you full and it’s tasty too. Yours look beautiful, especially with that dipping sauce on the side! And, I have a weak spot for cutely shaped lunch boxes like the ones you have there.

  15. Brian @ A Thought For Food July 12, 2011 at 17:50 #

    It’s not good that I’m so darn hungry… these look wonderful and just what I could snack on right now.

  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica July 12, 2011 at 20:23 #

    What a creative on-the-go meal option. Love it!

  17. Winnie July 12, 2011 at 21:26 #

    I love onigiri! Such a yummy snack 😉

  18. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz July 12, 2011 at 23:16 #

    Great idea Mardi! I never had onigiri before but I can see the nutty flavor really working here. Nice dipping sauce too. Good luck, can’t wait to see of one of us gets picked next week!

  19. Eliot July 13, 2011 at 08:41 #

    Once again, our photos are awesome.

  20. Valerie July 13, 2011 at 10:24 #

    Just like you said this dish is easy to clean up! And looks easy to prepare, i love japanese cuisine, it must be delicious!

  21. Kelly July 13, 2011 at 10:48 #

    What a great idea, especially for lunches!! Looks delicious!! 🙂

  22. Skylar July 13, 2011 at 17:09 #

    Great idea for an appetizer! Thanks for sharing

  23. PolaM July 14, 2011 at 01:52 #

    I love this idea. Never thought of making portable rice snacks and these look like the perfect snack from when I am starving in front of my computer! Love it!

  24. Desmond the Onigiri Guy April 12, 2012 at 06:24 #

    I love Onigiri but never make them using brown rice. Looks like a healthy snack for me! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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