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Well, they're really not the same at all, but if you consider a sandwich to be a very convenient lunch--you can take them anywhere, they're easy to eat even while you're driving, and they don't need to be heated to be delicious; then our onigiri (rice ball) does all that! We've got some basic onigiri recipes for you this month--consider this a primer because you can load up your rice ball with anything you like, so we're leaving the experimentation up to you. But always remember--the main ingredient is always RICE; so start with an advanced rice cooker like the ones Zojirushi makes, and your results will be awesome!
Start your onigiri experience here. The ingredients used to stuff these rice balls, broiled salmon and umeboshi (pickled plum) are a couple of the most common ones used. The triangular shape and nori (seaweed) wrapped style is also the traditional way to make onigiri; made to be picked up by your hands and enjoyed anywhere!
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Obviously a yaki-onigiri tastes better when it's right off the grill, so that is what we recommend. The two versions here are both tasty explosions, so crispy on the outside and fluffy soft inside. Be very careful you don't burn your tongue when you bite in; it'll be steaming if you eat it hot! This is one of those snacks that can fill a room with its aroma as you cook it.
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If you've never had furikake (rice sprinkles), you're in for a treat. We're going to show you how to make your own veggie furikake that you can use to season your onigiri. This style of rice ball is another typical way of making onigiri that people love for the colorful confetti way they look, as well as the flavorful way the rice ball tastes.
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The Spam® musubi (don't call them onigiri unless you want to be corrected by the locals in Hawaii) may seem like an odd pairing of rice and that canned meat called Spam®, but we suggest you try it before you knock it! Here we show you two styles enjoyed by generations of Hawaiians.  
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Rice balls have become quite the trend here on the West Coast, where onigiri have captured the fancy of local foodies who are always hungry for new dishes. In Japan, onigiri have come a long way since it was the meal of choice for the traveling samurai, who carried them in bamboo paper-like sheaths. Back then, onigiri were literally balls of rice flavored with salt; until nori (seaweed), farmed and pressed into sheets, became widely available in the late 1600s.
Onigiri variations have increased tremendously since then, not unlike the evolution of the sandwich. Do they always have to be triangular in shape? Not really. Why do they seem to always come in threes? We don't know. What's the difference between onigiri and musubi? Nothing--same meaning. But taking regional dialects into account, the word musubi probably made its way into Hawaiian culture first, through Japanese-American immigrants; thus the Spam® musubi.  
Once thought to be too difficult to mold by machine for mass production, a machine capable of forming triangular shaped onigiri was developed in the 1980's. This opened the door to the next innovation--how to keep the crispy nori from getting limp and soggy by the time it was ready to eat it. Go to an Asian supermarket these days and you'll see the ingenious solution--a wrapper that keeps the nori away from the rice until you're ready to eat it. This kind of specialized onigiri packaging allowed manufacturers to sell the snack almost anywhere, which made it a staple of convenience stores, roadside stands and supermarkets all over Japan.
So now you really want to try onigiri. But you're a little hesitant to try your hand skills at forming your own. You don't really want to go buy a rice ball mold at the store, and we've got your imagination running wild at the possibilities of all the ingredients you want to try, filling your onigiri masterpiece! Onigirazu is the answer! It's the trendiest, most free-form, most original onigiri in Japan--filled with any kind of ingredient you want. And so easy to make:
  1. Lay a sheet of nori on a larger sheet of plastic wrap.
  2. Place a small layer of rice in the middle of the nori.
  3. Add whatever ingredients you want on the rice.
  4. Place another layer of rice on top.
  5. Fold each corner of the nori sheet over the rice until it forms a square.
  6. Wrap your onigirazu with the plastic wrap and compress slightly.
  7. Cut in half and serve with the wrap in place.
What did we say earlier about the Japanese answer to the sandwich? This is surely it--easy to eat, the shape makes it ideal for filling with more ingredients than regular onigiri, which means you get the deliciousness with every bite!
As you may already know, cooking meat under pressure can tenderize even the most stubborn cut. Well, cooking rice with a Zojirushi pressure rice cooker cooks rice in a similar way, making perfectly fluffy rice, ideal for onigiri!
Cooking rice under pressure at high temperatures above 212°F enhances the flavor and its chewy and firm texture. Rice becomes hard when cooled, however, rice cooked under pressure tends to stay plump and firm longer when cooled. Even brown rice, known for its tough bran layer, is cooked fluffy!  
Applying pressure while cooking helps convert the rigid beta starch in raw rice into alpha starch, making rice softer and easier to digest.  
  Zojirushi’s Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-NVC10/18) comes with 3 pressure levels which the rice cooker automatically selects from, based on the menu setting selected. Sushi rice is cooked at sea level pressure for a harder consistency and easier handling, while brown rice is cooked at a higher pressure level for a soft yet chewy consistency.
Buy Rice in Bulk?
Just like dried beans, the taste and fragrance of rice weakens with time. If you don't cook rice often or a bag of rice may take more than a month to finish, we recommend buying rice in a smaller package so that you can enjoy tasty rice every time.
Storing Rice
Store raw rice in an air-tight container or bag to keep its freshness. It is ideal to keep rice in a dry and cool place, as warm temperature and high humidity can spoil rice faster. Especially during summer, we recommend storing it in a refrigerator.
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Homemade donuts! National Donut Day is coming, so instead of buying a dozen this time, why not bake a dozen yourself?