Baked Mushroom-Sesame Rice Balls

Recipe byMark Bittman

This spin on onigiri, Japanese sticky white rice balls, combines the earthiness of brown rice and mushrooms with the crunch of a sesame seed crust. The key is cooking the rice until it releases all of its starch, then chilling it in the fridge so you can easily roll it into balls before baking. Proceeds support American Red Cross's efforts on the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.


Photo credit: Matt Klein.


  • 1 1⁄2 cups short grain brown rice
  • Salt
  • Boiling water, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 8 ounces fresh shiitake or button mushrooms, chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup sesame seeds or finely chopped nuts, plus more as needed
  • Soy sauce, for passing at the table


  1. Put the rice in a large pot along with a big pinch of salt. Add enough water to cover by about 1 1⁄2 inches. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more boiling water if the rice begins to stick to the bottom, until the grains are very tender and burst, about an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
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Proceeds support the American Red Cross's efforts on the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Learn more.

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