If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, you’ve probably heard of onigiri and musubi.
These two rice ball dishes are often used interchangeably, but there are actually some subtle differences between them.
Understanding the differences can help you better appreciate the unique flavors and textures of each dish.
Onigiri, also known as omusubi, is a traditional Japanese dish made from white rice that’s been shaped into a triangle or cylinder and wrapped in seaweed (nori).
The filling can vary, from salted salmon to pickled ume, and the dish can be found in restaurants worldwide as well as in Asian convenience stores as a quick bite.
Musubi, on the other hand, is a Hawaiian adaptation of onigiri that features a rectangular shape and is often filled with spam, teriyaki chicken, or other meats.
While the two dishes share some similarities, such as their use of rice and seaweed, they have distinct differences in terms of shape, filling, and cultural origins.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of one dish or simply curious about the differences, read on to learn more about onigiri vs musubi.
What Is Onigiri?
If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, you’ve probably heard of onigiri. Onigiri is a popular snack that is made with white rice, often shaped into a triangle or cylinder, and wrapped with a sheet of nori (dried seaweed). It is a staple food in Japanese convenience stores, and you can also find it in many Japanese restaurants worldwide.
Onigiri is usually filled with a variety of ingredients, such as pickled ume (Japanese plum), salmon, tuna, or kombu (kelp). The filling can be mixed with the rice or placed in the center of the rice ball. Onigiri is often seasoned with salt or other condiments, such as furikake (a Japanese seasoning made with dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate).
Onigiri is a versatile snack that can be eaten at any time of the day. It is often consumed as a quick breakfast or lunch, and it is also a popular snack for picnics or on-the-go meals. Onigiri can be eaten cold or hot, depending on your preference. Some people like to grill or pan-fry their onigiri to give it a crispy texture.
What Is Musubi?
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you might have come across a popular snack called musubi. Musubi is a Japanese-inspired dish that is popular in Hawaii and is often made with Spam. Yes, you read that right, Spam!
Musubi is essentially a rice ball, similar to onigiri, but it is usually rectangular in shape and is topped with a slice of Spam or other fillings such as teriyaki chicken, egg, or even avocado. The rice is often seasoned with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin, giving it a slightly sweet and savory taste.
While musubi is a Hawaiian snack, it has its roots in Japanese cuisine. In fact, musubi is simply the Hawaiian name for onigiri, which is a popular snack in Japan. However, the Hawaiian version of onigiri has evolved over time and has become a unique dish in its own right.
Similarities Between Onigiri And Musubi
When it comes to onigiri and musubi, there are more similarities than differences. Here are a few:
- Both are made of rice – The main ingredient in both onigiri and musubi is rice.
- Both are portable – Onigiri and musubi are both easy to eat on the go, making them a popular choice for a quick snack or lunch.
- Both can be filled – While traditional onigiri fillings include salmon, pickled plum, or tuna, musubi can be filled with a variety of ingredients, such as Spam, teriyaki chicken, or egg.
- Both are shaped – Onigiri and musubi are both shaped into a triangular or rectangular shape, making them easy to hold and eat with your hands.
Despite these similarities, there are a few differences between onigiri and musubi that set them apart. Keep reading to find out more.
Differences Between Onigiri And Musubi
If you’re new to Japanese cuisine, you might be wondering about the difference between onigiri and musubi. While both dishes are made with rice and often have similar fillings, there are a few key differences that set them apart.
Firstly, the shape of the two dishes is different. Onigiri is typically triangular or oval-shaped, while musubi is rectangular. This difference in shape is due to the way the rice is formed and wrapped around the filling.
Secondly, the way the rice is seasoned is different. Onigiri is often seasoned with salt and sometimes mixed with other ingredients like furikake (a seasoning made with dried fish, sesame seeds, and other ingredients). Musubi, on the other hand, is often seasoned with a sweet soy sauce mixture.
Finally, the way the two dishes are wrapped is different. Onigiri is often wrapped in nori (dried seaweed), while musubi is wrapped in a strip of nori that is tied around the middle to hold the filling in place.
Onigiri Vs Musubi: How To Choose Between Them?
Now that you know the differences between onigiri and musubi, you might be wondering how to choose between them. Here are a few things to consider:
- Taste: Onigiri and musubi both have a similar base of rice, but the fillings and toppings can differ. Onigiri can have various fillings, such as pickled plum, salmon, and tuna mayo, while musubi is often filled with spam, teriyaki chicken, or other meats. Consider your taste preferences when choosing between the two.
- Convenience: Onigiri is often sold at convenience stores in Japan and can be eaten on the go. Musubi is also a popular snack food that is easy to eat while walking around. Consider which one is more convenient for your lifestyle.
- Price: Onigiri and musubi can vary in price depending on where you buy them and what fillings they have. Onigiri tends to be cheaper, while musubi with fancier fillings can be more expensive. Consider your budget when choosing between the two.
Ultimately, the choice between onigiri and musubi comes down to personal preference. Both are delicious and can be enjoyed in different situations. Try both and see which one you like best!
Onigiri And Musubi FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about onigiri and musubi:
What is the main difference between onigiri and musubi?
The biggest difference between onigiri and musubi is their name. Onigiri is a word primarily used in the West of Japan and musubi in the East when referring to rice balls. But if you were to order either at a restaurant, you would be presented with the same dish.
What are some common fillings for onigiri and musubi?
Onigiri and musubi can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including:
- Umeboshi (pickled plum)
- Teriyaki chicken
- Spam (for spam musubi)
Are onigiri and musubi typically eaten hot or cold?
Onigiri and musubi can be eaten either hot or cold, depending on your preference. Grilled onigiri taste their crispy and crunchy best when they are served hot.
What is the best way to store onigiri and musubi?
Onigiri and musubi should be consumed within a few hours of being made. If you need to store them, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to a day. If you want to freeze them, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, remove the plastic wrap and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until heated through.
Are onigiri and musubi gluten-free?
Onigiri and musubi are typically gluten-free, as they are made with rice and fillings that are usually gluten-free. However, some fillings may contain soy sauce or other ingredients that contain gluten, so it’s important to check the ingredients before consuming.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.