Onigiri are Japanese rice balls often filled with umeboshi (pickled plums) which is a kind of plum, kombu, and many other fillings.They're popular items at convenience stores and in lunch boxes. But these onigiri are special. Aside from their spicy, savory coconut and pea filling, they're rainbow-colored through the use of natural food coloring. If you take these for your lunch, those beautiful colors are guaranteed to grab attention.

Rainbow Onigiri With Coconut and Pea Filling [Vegan]

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For the Filling:

  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
  • Scant 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups cooked sushi rice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Seasoning of choice, like furikake
  • Nori (toasted seaweed), to seal the onigiri

For the Natural Food Coloring:

  • Spirulina powder or matcha powder, to make green
  • Turmeric, to make the yellow
  • Turmeric and spirulina, to make light green
  • Beet powder, beet juice, or gochujang, to make red
  • Turmeric and beet powder, to make orange
  • Boiled purple cabbage, to make purple
  • Water the purple cabbage was cooked in, to make blue


To Make the Rainbow Rice:

  1. If you're making purple and blue rice, first boil the cabbage.
  2. Cook the sushi rice. If you're making blue rice, separate 1/2 cup of rice and cook it in the water you used to boil the cabbage.
  3. Once the rice is cool enough to handle, separate into five portions and add the colors of your choice to each portion. Do this gradually, until you achieve your desired vibrancy with each color.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes. Now add the garam masala, gochugaru, sugar, and peas. Add about half a cup of water and the coconut cream, then cook it for another 7 minutes or so until the sauce becomes thick.
  2. Once the mixture cooled down, add it to a blender or mash it until you get a thick and chunky sauce, leave some texture. Keep in mind that the filling should be quite thick, otherwise, it will spill out of the onigiri.

To Make the Onigiri:

  1. You can make them by hand by wetting your hand and taking a small portion rice, making a well for the filling, and then closing it to encase a teaspoon of the filling within the rice and shaping the ball into a triangle. Seal with nori.
  2. If you have an onigiri mould, you can also use this instead.


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