A fun twist on a Japanese classic, these sushi balls are simple to make and delicious too! Great as an appetizer, lunch or snack. Get ready to impress your family and friends with these perfect bite-sized treats. Let us show you how!
With both Korean and Japanese origins, these little rice balls can be made with a variety of fillings and flavours. We love making a range of fillings to suit everyones taste buds and dietary requirements. Or you can simply just used up leftovers from the fridge, making this a cheap meal option too.
If you love Japanese fusion ideas, our salmon poke sushi bowl is a must try for you too.
So let's get sharing our top chef tips for making these delicious and healthy sushi balls and you'll be a master in no time.
Ingredients: notes and substitutions.
- Sushi rice - you can buy sushi rice from most supermarkets but it can be expensive, short grain rice works just as well too.
- Sushi vinegar - sometimes referred to as sushi seasoning, this can also be purchased in most supermarkets or can be made at home: Sushi vinegar recipe.
- Avocado - lightly mashed and seasoned. We used avocado for this recipe but there are a variety of fillings you can use, see our list of ideas below.
See recipe card for quantities.
You can add a mix of toppings or none at all, it's completely up to you but some of our favourite toppings are:
- Toasted sesame seeds.
- Furikake / Japanese rice seasoning.
- Nori sheets
- Spicy mayo
- Light soy sauce
Preparing sushi rice
As with many Japanese traditions, washing rice feels like an art form! Follow our steps for the perfect rice.
Put the rice into a large bowl, cover with water and let it soak for 20 minutes. Strain off, then add some fresh water and use your hand to mix the water around.
Strain the water again and repeat the process until the strained water runs clear. Normal 2-3 times.
Repeating this process will wash off the excess starch and leave you with clean rice.
Place the rice into a medium pot, add 2 cups of water and cover with a lid.
Bring the pot to the boil, as soon as the water boils, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook the rice until the water has evaporated this will take 16-18 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes. Keeping the lid on throughout the whole process.
Tip - Using a larger pot then you need allows you to bring the water to a quick boil without worrying about the water spilling out.
Seasoning the rice
After the rice has sat for 10 minutes, season it by adding the sushi vinegar. We recommend adding 5 tablespoons, but adjust the amount to your taste.
Use a wooden spoon to mix the vinegar through the rice. Then place the rice into a clean dish, cover with a clean damp tea towel while the rice cools. Occasionally, use the wooden spoon to mix and turnover the rice again to help it cool.
Tip - While the rice is cooking start prepping your filling ingredients.
How to make a rice ball
Before working with the rice wet your hands, as it will get sticky. Take a small portion of the rice and roll it into a ball shape in the ball of your hands.
Use your thumb to push a crater into the middle of the rice balls. Being careful not to push a hole right through the rice.
Add a small amount of filling then add a little bit of extra rice over the top and roll back into a ball.
Repeat until all the rice balls have been made. This amount of rice should make around 24 rice balls, depending on how large you make the ball.
To finish, garnish with your toppings of choice. Serve and enjoy.
To help mould the rice balls make them while the rice is still warm. Warm rice is much easier to work with and will hold its shape better.
Sushi balls can be filled with a variety of fillings, so get creative. Some of our favourite fillings are:
- Teriyaki chicken.
- Shrimp or prawns.
- Crab meat
- Fried tofu
- Grilled beef
- Korean BBQ pork
- Pickled vegetables
Try one filling or mixed up two together, just remember you only want to add some amount. So keep your ingredients finely sliced and diced.
Sushi balls can be served as they are for a light dinner or lunch. They can also be served as an appetizer or as part of a shared table, perfect if you hosting guests.
They are delicious paired with other Asian dishes and flavours like our vegetable spring rolls. Or serve them along side some main dishes, they would be delicious with our BBQ Asian pork or a steamed snapper with chilli jam. Yum, we have made ourselves hungry now!
Once made sushi balls can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge and should be eaten within the same day. To keep the rice as fresh as possible we like to cover the balls with plastic wrap, as well as adding a lid to the container. And we recommend, not adding the toppings until you're ready to serve them.
Are you surprised at how easy and fun these sushi balls are to make? Give it a try and we think you and your family will have a new favourite recipe. And get a little creative, we would love to see what you cook up!
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Our goal at ATK is to share simple, tasty dishes created by Chef Shane and partner, Sara. Using Shane's understanding of flavours and knowledge of food, to teach and inspire you to create delicious food everyday and gain a new level of confidence in the kitchen. Sara understands what it's like preparing weekly dinners for a busy family of five and likes to create dishes that are easy, full of flavour and that the whole family will enjoy.
- 2 cups Sushi rice See note 1
- 2 cups Water
- 5 tablespoon Sushi vinegar (seasoning) See note 2
Fillings: choose one or a combination of (See our list in the post above for more filling ideas)
- Avocado Mashed and seasoned (This is what we used for these sushi balls)
- Grilled Tofu Small cubes
- Spicy salmon Cubed
- Teriyaki chicken Shredded
- Cucumber Small cubes
- 1 serving Furikake / Japanese rice seasoning
- A handful of Toasted sesame seeds
- 1 Nori sheets (sushi sheet)
- Spicy mayo
- Soy sauce (light) To serve
- Place the rice into a large bowl and cover with water, allow to sit for 20 minutes, strain off the water. Add fresh water and use your hand to mix the rice, then strain again, washing off the excess starch. Repeat until the strained water runs clear . Usually 2-3 times.
- Place the washed rice into a medium pot. Add 2 cups of cold water and cover with a lid. Place onto a high heat to bring to the boil. As soon as the rice starts to boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. (Don't remove the lid).
- Cook until the water has evaporated, around 16-18 minutes. Remove from the heat, keep covered and allow the rice to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the sushi vinegar, adjust the amount to taste. Using a wooden spoon mix the sushi vinegar through the rice. Then remove from the pot and place into a clean dish, keep covered with a clean damp tea towel while the rice cools. You can turn the rice over now and again to help it cool. (See note 3)
- While your rice is cooking prepare your filling ingredients.
- Always wet your hands when working with rice as it gets sticky! Take a desired amount of sushi rice, squeeze and roll into a ball in the palm of your hand.
- Use your thumb or finger to push a crater into the middle and fill with a small amount of filling. Patch the top with a little extra rice and roll back into a ball. Repeat until finished.
- You can leave them plain or garnish the balls anyway your like, so get creative. We love adding a little filling or top or wrapping a slice of nori around them. You can sprinkle them with a little furikake or toasted sesame or top with a little spicy mayo. Yum!
- Serve with soy sauce and enjoy!