Easy Japanese Spicy Tuna Onigiri

Spicy Tuna Onigiri: A protein-packed delight with the perfect blend of tuna and spice. Quick, easy, and utterly satisfying.

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Enjoy this delicious Spicy Tuna Onigiri—a yummy Japanese rice ball. It’s a tasty mix of spicy mayo, tuna, and nori for a flavorful bite. Make it at home with ease to experience a touch of Japan in your kitchen!

The image depicts a hand holding a rice ball filled with tuna in the center, with sesame seeds sprinkled on top, and bitten in half. In the background, there is a plate of tuna onigiri, a bottle of sriracha sauce, and a sunflower.

This quick and easy onigiri recipe is not only a culinary treat but also a reliable go-to for its simplicity and universal appeal. Prepared with basic ingredients, these protein-packed balls promise a satisfying bite, making them an excellent choice for both busy families and solo adventurers in the kitchen.

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VIDEO: Watch us make the recipe

Why this recipe works 

Try this Japanese Rice Dish a tasty combo of spicy tuna filling and seasoned rice. It’s easy to make with pantry basics, perfect for a quick meal or snack. The spicy kick adds a hint of flavour. Like your fave Tuna Potato Fritters, they might become a household go-to, bringing joy to every bite. Dive into the simple, tasty happiness of Asian cuisine!

Ingredients to make Spicy Tuna Onigiri

  • Sushi rice – This is a short-grain rice variety that becomes sticky when cooked. It’s seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to give it a distinctive taste and texture for sushi and onigiri.
  • Canned tunaProvides a protein-rich filling for the onigiri. It’s often flaked and mixed with other ingredients to create a spicy centre. In this recipe, it is best to use canned tuna rather than cooked tuna, with it being more convenient to use.
  • MayonnaiseAdds a creamy texture and a subtle richness to the spicy tuna mixture. It helps bind the ingredients together and contributes to the overall flavour.
  • Sriracha sauce – It is a hot chilli sauce that brings spiciness to the dish. The amount used can be adjusted to control the level of heat.
  • Sheets of nori (seaweed) – These are dried seaweed sheets commonly used in Japanese cuisine. In this context, they are likely used to wrap the onigiri or bring flavour elements. They add a subtle oceanic taste and a bit of crispness. You can also use Shredded Seaweed Flakes or Furikake, a great addition to the rice balls.
  • Onion flakes – These are dried and crushed onion pieces, and greatly contribute to the recipe.
  • Sesame seeds -Either white or black, they are used to add nutty hints and a bit of crunch. They are often toasted to enhance their aroma. Sprinkling them on the onigiri adds a delightful texture.

Substitutions

Most of the main ingredients are simple and easy to get if you’re missing some. In many of my recipes, I provide alternative options, and here are a few for this one:

  • Rice: Quinoa, couscous, or cauliflower rice can be alternatives if you’re looking for low-carb options. Each has a distinct texture, so choose based on your preference.
  • Canned Tuna: Cooked and shredded chicken, cooked and flaked salmon, or even cooked and mashed chickpeas can be used as a non-seafood alternative.
  • Mayonnaise: Greek yoghurt, sour cream, or a mixture of mustard and a bit of olive oil can provide a creamy texture with a different flavour profile.
  • Sriracha Sauce: Any hot sauce of your choice can work, such as Tabasco, Sambal Oelek, or a homemade chilli paste. Adjust the quantity to match your preferred level of spiciness.
  • Sheets of Nori (Seaweed): Collard greens or large lettuce leaves can be used as a wrap or you can skip the wrapping altogether and create open-faced onigiri.
  • Onion Flakes: Freshly diced onions, green onions, or chives can be used as alternatives. You can also use onion powder if you prefer a milder flavour.
  • Sesame Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or chopped nuts can provide a similar crunchy texture. If you want to skip seeds altogether, however, the dish will still be flavorful.
The picture shows a plate with tuna rice balls topped with sesame seeds, a little bit of spicy mayo, and onion flakes. There's also a bottle of sriracha sauce and a sunflower next to it.

Variations

Feel free and use whatever ingredients you have. This way, you might find new recipes to add to your favourite list. Here are some different ways you can make Spicy Tuna Onigiri Balls:

  • Avocado: Add diced avocado to the spicy tuna mixture for a creamy and fresh twist. The buttery texture of avocado complements the heat of the tuna.
  • Soy Sauce Glaze: Brush the onigiri with a soy sauce glaze before serving. This adds a savoury umami flavour.
  • Pickled Radish: Place a small piece of pickled radish or daikon in the centre of the tuna mixture. It adds a burst of tanginess and colour.
  • Cucumber: Mix finely diced cucumber into the spicy tuna for a refreshing and crunchy element.
  • Teriyaki Twist: Brush the onigiri with a teriyaki glaze for a sweet and savoury kick. This variation brings a different dimension to the dish.
  • Mango: Add small cubes of ripe mango to the spicy tuna mixture. The sweetness of mango adds an interesting twist!

How to make this recipe

These Tuna Mayo Rice Balls are super easy to make with very few ingredients. You only need 5 simple things and a couple of minutes to put them together. They’re perfect for a quick snack, meal or finger food!

Take a look at this step-by-step guide to making this delicious homemade recipe. The photos make it easy to follow along.

A picture of food on a table. There's a bowl of tuna, a bowl of rice, a bowl of seaweed cut into small pieces, and a tuna onigiri on a plate.

Step 1: Prepare all the ingredients required by the recipe, so everything is at hand.

In the picture, there's a table with different bowls. One has tuna, another has rice, and there's also a bowl with seaweed cut into small pieces. On a plate, there's a rice ball called onigiri with tuna inside. In the middle, a hand is holding a square piece of plastic wrap with cooked rice on it.

Step 2: Place some cling foil in your hand, and add sesame seeds. Take a bit of rice, and flatten it on your palm over the sesame seeds.

In the picture, there's a table with bowls of tuna, rice, and seaweed cut into small pieces. There's also a plate with a special Japanese rice ball called onigiri with tuna inside. In the middle, someone's holding a square piece of plastic wrap with cooked rice, seaweed pieces, and a spoonful of tuna mixed with onion flakes on top.

Step 3: Place spicy tuna on rice, add nori strips, and sprinkle with onion flakes.

In the picture, you can see a table with different bowls and plates. There's a bowl of tuna, a bowl of rice, and a bowl of seaweed cut into small strips. On a plate, there's a special rice ball called onigiri with tuna inside. In the middle of the table, there's a hand holding a round-shaped onigiri wrapped in plastic wrap to make it look like a ball.

Step 4: Gently bring the rice around the filling, shaping it into a ball.

The picture shows a plate with tuna rice balls topped with sesame seeds, a little bit of spicy mayo, and onion flakes. There's also a bottle of sriracha sauce and a sunflower next to it.

Step 5: Place a dollop of spicy mayo and sprinkle extra onion flakes on each onigiri.

The image depicts a hand holding a rice ball filled with tuna in the center, with sesame seeds sprinkled on top, and bitten in half. In the background, there is a plate of tuna onigiri, a bottle of sriracha sauce, and a sunflower.

Step 6: Serve these spicy tuna onigiri balls as a delicious snack, lunch, or picnic treat.

A full list of ingredients and instructions can be found in the recipe card below.

Leftovers and storage

These rice balls are best consumed when fresh, although if you make too much you can store them in the refrigerator. Be aware that the rice will dry out if not stored accordingly.

  • Place the onigiri in an airtight container or place them individually in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate within 2 hours of preparation to maintain freshness.
  • If you plan to consume the leftovers within 1-2 days, refrigeration is sufficient to maintain their freshness.

Recipe FAQs

For this recipe, it is best to use Sushi Rice, as this type of rice has a sticky texture when cooked. This stickiness is essential for onigiri, as it helps the rice hold together and maintains its shape when moulded into balls.

While sushi rice is the traditional choice for onigiri due to its sticky texture and seasoned flavour, you can experiment with other types of rice for different textures and tastes. Here are some alternatives:

  • Short-Grain Rice: Short-grain rice varieties, such as Arborio or Calrose rice, can work as alternatives. They are stickier than long-grain rice but may have a slightly different texture.
  • Medium-Grain Rice: Medium-grain rice, like Bomba or Valencia rice, can also be used. It’s stickier than long-grain rice but less sticky than traditional sushi rice.
  • Sticky Rice (Glutinous Rice): Sticky rice is a glutinous rice variety that becomes very sticky when cooked. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisines and can be a good substitute for sushi rice.
  • Brown Rice: While not as sticky as white rice, brown rice adds a nutty flavour and extra nutritional benefits. Keep in mind that the texture will be different, and it may not hold together as well.
  • Black Rice: Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, has a nutty flavour and a chewy texture. It can add a unique twist to onigiri but may not stick together as well.
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is a versatile and nutritious alternative. While it won’t be as sticky as rice, it works well as a healthier option.
  • Cauliflower Rice: For a low-carb option, consider using cauliflower rice. It won’t be the same as traditional rice, but it can be shaped into onigiri and offers a light, fresh taste.

Wet your hands with water or a mixture of water and a bit of salt before handling the rice. This helps prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.

Tabasco, Sambal Oelek, Kewpie Mayo or any hot sauce of your choice can be used as a Sriracha substitute.

Yes, onigiri can be enjoyed cold, especially if it’s well-seasoned and has flavorful fillings. Store them in the refrigerator and take them out when ready to eat.

Yes, you can make onigiri without a mould. A handy alternative is using cling film to shape them into convenient balls. Just place a portion of seasoned rice onto cling film, add your desired filling, then gather the edges of the film, twisting to shape it into a ball.


Looking for more? Check out +20 Best Mains Easy Recipes


Ingredients

  • 300 g sushi rice cooked
  • 280 gr cans tuna in oil or brine
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce 
  • 3 sheets of nori seaweed, cut into small strips
  • Onion flakes (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
A picture of a plate on a table with baked salmon and prawn sushi cups. The dish is topped with green onions, avocado pieces, spicy mayo, and sesame seeds.
Baked Salmon and Prawn Sushi Cups

Method

  • Cook the sushi rice according to the package instructions and let it cool slightly. Gently mix it with 3 tsp rice vinegar.
  • In a bowl, mix the tuna, mayonnaise, and Sriracha sauce until well combined.
  • Prepare a small piece of cling foil and place it in your hand. Spread some sesame seeds out on the cling foil.
  • Grab a small amount of seasoned rice and flatten it on the palm of your hand over the sesame seeds.
  • Spoon a little bit of the spicy tuna mixture onto the centre of the rice.
  • Add some strips of nori sheet and sprinkle some onion flakes on top of the tuna mixture.
  • Gently fold the rice around the filling, shaping it into a rectangle or ball.
  • If desired, wrap a strip of nori around the onigiri for extra flavour and to make it easier to hold.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining rice and tuna mixture.
  • Add a small amount of spicy mayo on top of each onigiri, sprinkle with extra onion flakes, and ENJOY! 

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Did you make this Spicy Tuna Onigiri recipe? Share your experience by rating it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and dropping a comment below. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and fuels my passion for creating recipes!

Recipe

In the foreground, a plate displays a rice ball generously sprinkled with sesame seeds, revealing a tantalizing tuna filling. Adjacent to it, a plate of tuna onigiri adds to the culinary array. In the backdrop, a bottle of sriracha sauce stands beside a vibrant sunflower, completing the picturesque scene.

Spicy Tuna Onigiri

joinyourlife4u
Create tasty Spicy Tuna Onigiri at home! Mix spicy mayo and tuna, shape into rice balls, wrap with nori, and enjoy a flavorful Japanese snack. Simple to make and delicious to eat!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Party Food, Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4
Calories 196 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 300 g sushi rice cooked
  • 2 80 gr cans tuna in oil or brine
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce adjust to your spice preference
  • 3 sheets of nori seaweed, cut into small strips
  • Onion flakes (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Cook the sushi rice according to the package instructions and let it cool slightly. Gently mix it with 3 tsp rice vinegar.
  • In a bowl, mix the tuna, mayonnaise, and Sriracha sauce until well combined.
  • Prepare a small piece of cling foil and place it in your hand. Spread some sesame seeds out on the cling foil.
  • Grab a small amount of rice and flatten it on the palm of your hand over the sesame seeds.
  • Spoon a little bit of the spicy tuna mixture onto the center of the rice.
  • Add some strips of nori sheet and sprinkle some onion flakes on top of the tuna mixture.
  • Gently fold the rice around the filling, shaping it into a rectangle or ball.
  • If desired, wrap a strip of nori around the onigiri for extra flavor and to make it easier to hold.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining rice and tuna mixture to make more onigiri
  • Add a small amount of spicy mayo on top of each onigiri and sprinkle with extra onion flakes.
  • Serve the spicy tuna onigiri as a delicious snack, lunch, or picnic treat.

Notes

Step-by-Step Guide: You’ll find a helpful step-by-step guide to making this recipe on my blog. The photos make it easy to follow along.
 
Substitutions & Twists: I’ve listed some great substitutions and variations in the post above, so you can customize the dish to your liking.
 
Storage: This spicy tuna onigiri can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. 
 
Tip 1: Use the right type of riceSushi rice is the traditional choice for onigiri due to its sticky texture and seasoned flavour. 
 
Tip 2Choose a quality Canned Tuna  – Having the best ingredients will help the recipe become tastier. In this case, a good quality canned tuna will add more flavour to the dish. 
 
Tip 3Consume while fresh  -Tuna onigiri is best consumed fresh as it retains its ideal texture and flavours. The rice maintains a satisfying stickiness, and the filling stays moist, offering a delightful contrast in each bite.
Keyword appetiser, Asian cuisine, Easy Snack, Homemade Onigiri, Japanese rice balls, Nori Wrap, savoury tuna recipe, Spicy Mayo, spicy tuna onigiri

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I actually think I can make these! They’re adorable. I would make with white rice and quinoa so appreciate the other options!