Onigiri: Vegan & Gluten-Free

Post by Aine Davis

Like most people who grew up in the ’90s, I watched a lot of anime as a kid. What I remember most vividly was the food the characters ate.  I salivated while watching my favourite characters bite into delicious dumplings, sushi, maki rolls and cakes.

But as a young vegetarian, I knew I’d never be able to bite into a delicious Japanese savoury pork bun.  So I did what any mature seven-year-old would do: I moved on.

Recently, I rediscovered my love for anime…oops! But this time, I had more tools at my hands, and I came up with a recipe for one of the most delicious Japanese foods: onigiri! “Onigiri” is the Japanese term for triangular rice balls traditionally wrapped in seaweed.


What I love and admire about Japanese food is that most dishes are fresh and healthy. Minimal ingredients are used without using many spices or herbs, which allows each ingredient to shine.





  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of cilantro, to taste
  • 2 scallion leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 standard avocado, cubed*
  • 1/2 standard cucumber, cubed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce, optional

Directions for Preparation:

  1. Steam rice. I used this helpful guide for the perfect sushi rice. Do not stir rice until fully cooked.
  2. Once rice has steamed, pour in rice wine vinegar. Move rice to a larger bowl and set aside. Let cool.
  3. Dice garlic, cilantro and scallions, and cut cucumber and avocado into small chunks. Immediately dress avocado with lemon juice so it does not spoil. *See photographed guide below photo guide below on how to properly cut an avocado.
  4. Toast sesame seeds. Place on a baking tray and put in oven at low heat. Let toast about 10 minutes or until seeds become fragrant.
  5. Once rice has cooled, begin to assemble the onigiri!

Use the photos below as a guide.

Directions for how to extract avocado:


Cut avocado around the seed, split halves and extract seed with knife. Throw seed away. Slice squares into the avocado halves, but be sure not to break through the skin.


Using a large spoon, slide spoon between the avocado meat and the skin. Scoop!


Pop the avocado out of the skin. Boom!

Directions for Onigiri Assembly: 

  1. If the rice mixture is not sticky to touch, add a splash more rice vinegar.
  2. Spread out a large piece of plastic wrap evenly on cutting board.
  3. Add a large spoonful to the middle of the plastic wrap.
  4. Layer avocado, scallions, garlic, cilantro and red pepper flakes. Add another spoonful of rice on top of vegetables.

DSC_0037  DSC_0039

5.  Fold the four sides of saran wrap upwards, like this:


6. Pinch the top in one hand…


7. Spin the rice ball until the cling wrap is tight and the rice is closely packed.


8. Shape the ball into a triangle. Unwrap from cling wrap carefully and roll in sesame seeds.


Ta da! Serve with gluten-free soy sauce if desired. Makes 4 servings.

3 thoughts on “Onigiri: Vegan & Gluten-Free

  1. Pingback: Recept: Onigiri | De Groene Meisjes

  2. Oh my, will definitely try that out 🙂 Can you share your favourite anime movie names?.. I happen to be fan of those.. especially – Myazaki.. but ran out of what to watch recently… thanks 🙂

  3. My husband and I are on our 3rd month of being vegan. My husband watches a lot of anime and just like your 7 year old self, he enjoys looking at the food the characters eat! Will try your recipe! Thanks,

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