These rice balls (onigiri) are filled with chicken seasoned with turmeric and mayo, then toasted crispy in a pan.
Turmeric mayo chicken
Usually chicken is a hit or miss with Munchkin (and with many toddlers). I believe it’s the texture of chicken that throws her off sometimes. This turmeric mayo chicken paste is soft and creamy making it toddler-friendly. I also sneaked in some zucchini.😉 Munchkin loves the filling and would eat a bowl of it straight with a spoon. Ok, I am not a master of making rice balls. I used to pick them up, ready-to-eat, at a convenience store while growing up. So when I was trying to make perfectly round balls with the filling completely wrapped in the rice, I got frustrated pretty fast. I almost gave in and thought of just giving a bowl of chicken along with a bowl of rice.
The solution: rice ball sandwich
But the vision of cute rice balls, toasted, sitting in a lovely lunchbox lined with a beautiful green leaf got me going. Eventually, I found a solution. I took out the rice ball mold from the cabinet and made a sort of a sandwich instead. Traditionally, fillings are entirely covered with rice, but I would end up with too much rice and a little chicken this way. And most of the flavor and the nutrition is in the chicken here. So I tried to pack in as much filling as I could. It was so much easier to make it this way too.
You need short grain sticky rice such as Japanese sushi rice to get the balls in shape. I used Korean “sweet rice” also called “glutinous rice.” It’s actually not sweet but has a very sticky texture, not quite fluffy as sushi rice. But that was ok because I was going to toast the rice until golden and crispy. I think the crispiness gave a nice contrast to the soft filling. (You can refrigerate the rice balls right before toasting them. Crisp them up when you are ready to eat.)
Putting them in a lunchbox
Putting in the lunchbox was my favorite part as the inspiration for this recipe came from an image of rice balls sitting on a green leaf. I used a pumpkin leaf, but any green leaf would work. To add a color contrast, I filled the rest of the lunchbox with pomegranate seeds. Between, munchkin loved the pomegranate seeds so much that I gave an extra serving for dinner too.
If you enjoyed this recipe also check out my tomato-y chicken recipe.
Products used here
LunchBots Uno Stainless Steel Food Container: I’m in love with the simple, sleek design of this lunch box.
Inomata Triangle Sushi Mold: This is not the brand I used, but you can find a similar one through this link.
(If you buy from these links, it won’t cost you a penny more, but I’ll get a small compensation. 😙)
Crispy rice balls with turmeric mayo chicken
These rice balls (onigiri) are filled with chicken & zucchini seasoned with turmeric and mayo, then toasted crispy in a pan. Turmeric mayo chicken paste is soft and creamy making it toddler-friendly.
- 0.8 lb chicken breast
- 1/2 zucchini chopped
- 1 tbsp mayo
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 5 cups cooked short grain sticky rice
- 5 cloves garlic optional
- 1/2 onion optional
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
Place chicken, garlic, onion in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer for additional 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Take out the chicken and zucchini. Discard the onion and garlic, and reserve the broth for later use. (I used it to make egg noodle soup.)
Chop the chicken, and place it in a food processor along with the zucchini, mayo, soy sauce, and turmeric powder. Blend until the mixture turns into a soft paste.
Wet your hands with water. Place a layer of rice into a rice ball mold. Spread the chicken mixture evenly across the rice. Add another layer of rice on top. Gently press the rice sandwich and take it out from the mold.
Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Toast the rice balls on both sides until golden and crispy.