Hello everyone! It has been a while since I have posted, so I’m definitely hyped to be writing this right now. That being said, even though I have sort of recently been in a “rut”, I am still very interested in exploring new food topics. If you have any suggestions, recipes, or new products (bonus points for vegan stuff), please do share them with me in the comments section. I would really appreciate that because it would give me the opportunity to try things that you all like. With that, let’s get into it.
If you’re an Asian food lover, or more specifically, a Japanese food lover, then there’s a good chance that you’ve stumbled across crispy rice before. It’s exactly what it sounds like: rice that’s been fried to the point that it develops a crunchy skin on the outside. The incredible, firm texture gives it a place in many tasty dishes. Stone/clay pot Bibimbap (Korean) is a notable favorite of mine. The ability to take a staple carbohydrate and add a delicious layer of fried goodness to the outside allows for so many possibilities in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter whether you use it as a snack, or as a meal. What matters is that anything with crispy rice is sure to hit the spot.
A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon this absolutely mouth watering recipe while surfing the internet for food ideas. Generally I’m open to almost anything, but I could just tell that it looked exactly like “my” type of food. Consisting of beautifully fried, golden brown rice balls/cakes topped with a yummy looking salmon sashimi, it not only stood out as an ingenious combination/idea, but also as a dish that I had never ever really thought of before. To be clear, I’m no Gordon Ramsay, but I do know how to follow fairly basic recipes, so I decided to give it a go!
To my relief, the recipe, as the title suggests, was very simple. I thought that deep frying something would require a lot of time, skill, and precision, so when I learned that you only had to let it sit in oil (or an air fryer) for however long you wanted, I started getting excited. First, I cooked up some rice and added sushi rice powder/mix to give it some flavor. This might be hard to obtain, so any sort of rice vinegar would likely work as well. This is purely optional, but if you would like make it as Japanese as possible, this is likely the best way to go. Next I formed the rice into small “fits in the palm of your hand” sized shapes. Again, there is a lot of flexibility in this recipe, which really makes it nice and easy. The most important thing is that the rice sticks together and doesn’t fall apart. The shape doesn’t really matter, unless you make them excessively large. Now comes the deep frying part. After taking some cooking oil and pouring a light layer into a pan, I turned up the heat to max and let it start heating up. Next, I simply dropped the pieces in and let them fry until a desirable color/texture. Since we don’t have a deep fryer or an air fryer, we did it this way which still works 100%. The only catch is that you might have to do a flip or two of the rice to really get that crisp on every side (credit to my mom for helping on this part). Of course, you could avoid this step by pouring in enough oil to submerge the entirety of the shapes. However, since we were only testing it out, we didn’t want to use up a lot of oil to just fry a handful. When the color was right, I took the fried rice balls out and just laid them on a towel to get excess oil off. For the sashimi, I combined the fish with some mirin (useful rice wine), soy sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and furikake (common Japanese rice topping consisting of seaweed, sesame seeds, and more). This was just a recommended mixture, and I “eye-balled” everything. If you want to add green onions or have it plain, that’s completely up to you! To be honest, the fish isn’t really necessary, because there are so many foods that I think would go great with crispy rice balls. Other types of raw fish, seaweed salad, tofu, and even mango come to mind. I do recommend salmon though (cooked salmon is great too), because it makes a classic combo with rice when you think about sushi or just Japanese cuisine in general.
At the end of the day, with a solid, perfectly flavored crisp on the outside, these rice balls really do serve as a base for a lot of great pairings. On their own, with that hint of vinegar, they already make a great dish, but when you start adding stuff on top to go with the indescribable crunch, the bites will melt in your mouth. And who knows… maybe after trying them I’ll be more incentivized to explore other deep fried foods. The rice balls certainly set a high standard. Lastly, if you’ve made these before, then you’re miles ahead of me in terms of culinary discovery, but if you haven’t, I cannot recommend them enough. They’re so delicious that I almost put the fast food label on them. The pure ecstasy and joy that comes with eating a food like this that is so perfect makes for an unforgettable experience. And just remember, with a recipe like this, it’s very, very hard to mess up. For their level of tastiness, they shouldn’t be this simple…
Note: from the looks of the featured image, we definitely could’ve worked on the crisp part as it does appear unequal (around the sides), but I assure you, they still tasted incredible. Even a little bit of crunch can really bring a lot to the table, seriously.