Nikumaki Onigiri Meat Wrapped Rice Balls

Nikumaki Onigiri Meat Wrapped Rice Balls

  • Serves 2 - 3
Rated by 41 people
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Beat between-meal hunger pangs with nikumaki. Literally meaning ‘wrapped in meat’, nikumaki are a new type of Japanese food that appeared towards the end of the 1990’s in the city of Miyazaki in Kyushu, Japan’s large southern island. These little balls of rice covered with thinly sliced cooked meat are a delicious hot snack, and with this recipe you can make your own nikumaki at home.


• 300g cooked rice
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tbsp mirin
• 1 tsp sesame seeds
• 120g thinly sliced beef or pork
• 1 tsp sugar


How To Prepare

  1. Let’s prepare the rice first. You can follow our online recipe for sticky rice if using a saucepan, or by using a rice cooker if you have one. Once the rice is cooked, wet your hands to stop the rice sticking to them and then shape the rice into palm-sized barrels with a flat top and bottom, create 1 per person (or more if you’re hungry).

  2. Take a slice of meat and wrap it tightly around the rice ball. Wrap in cling film, squeeze the meat and rice together so that it doesn’t fall apart when cooking, then remove the cling film. Add a little cooking oil to a pan and cook your nikumaki on a medium heat until the meat is tender. Finish by turning the nikumaki on to the top and bottom sides and cook the exposed rice until it turns a golden colour.

  3. You can now remove your nikumaki from the saucepan and put it to one side for the moment. Mix the soy sauce, mirin and sugar in the pan and bring to the boil before placing the cooked nikumaki in the pan and allow the meat to absorb the delicious flavours. Keep turning the nikumaki to ensure it gets evenly marinaded.

  4. Once the sauce has boiled down and been absorbed into the meat, remove the nikumaki from a pan and place on a large lettuce leaf. Sprinkle a few sesame seeds onto the nikumaki and serve.

    Your nikumaki can be eaten immediately by wrapping it in the lettuce leaf before eating, or leave it to cool and add to a bento lunchbox.

Tips and Information

• In Japan, you can sometimes find nikumaki with cheese. Try adding a slice of cheddar cheese and grilling it so that it melts before sprinkling with sesame and serving in a lettuce leaf – no plate needed.