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Rice Rivalry: Japanese Onigiri Competition This Weekend

Photo via Girl in Black on Flickr
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This Sunday, the Japanese American National Museum will host their annual New Years celebration with a free day of Japanese premium rice tasting, education, and onigiri making with Japanese food writer and home cooking teacher, Sonoko Sakai.

If you're not familiar with onigiri, or omusubi as they are also called in Japan, take a look at this video from the BBC. The country's ancient emphasis on food presentation has been transformed into these stylish little balls of rice, whose popularity has increased in part due to their popularity in manga and anime.

Moms take their rice balls so seriously that they enroll in classes to out-do the other moms. Pandas, Hello Kitty, Michael Jackson, teddy bears, and pianos are just some the beginning of the designs that these crafters can make out of these balls of rice adorned with nori and sesame seeds. Sometimes it takes up to two hours to create them.

Of course, if you want to learn to make your own -- or practice a little bit before the big event -- one of our favorite blogs, Just Bento, has a little how-to on the matter.

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According to Just Bento, the keys to making an award-winning onigiri are good rice, properly washed and cooked, and sufficient salt to flavor the onigiri -- either on the outside if making the usual type of onigiri, or with a salty filling inside, or salty enough sprinkles.

The Japanese rice demos and tasting will go on from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the competition going from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For more info visit their site.