Cooked Japanese rice is seasoned with rice vinegar (yes, like sushi rice), formed into balls, wrapped in bacon, broiled, brushed with teriyaki sauce and broiled a second time. The inspiration for these teriyaki bacon rice balls?
Okay, so, it was the day we went to Fushimi Inari. I discovered an alley lined on both sides with food stalls and I started browsing them. The first thing I saw was dango but they were large and because they are made with glutinous rice flour, I figured they would be too filling and I probably wouldn’t be able to try any other food on display. I skipped the dango, regretfully.
Three stalls farther into the alley, I saw one of the most stunning street food I have ever encountered. Rows of meat wrapped rice balls that came in different flavors — plain, ginger, kimchi, with cheese, with green onion mayonnaise or with seasoned cod roe mayonnaise.
I was really tempted. But the rice balls were large. About three inches long and two and a half inches thick. If I ate one, I’d have space in my stomach for drinks and nothing else.
So, like the dango, I skipped the meat wrapped rice balls. I never stopped thinking about them though and I promised myself that we would make a home version — with bacon because, well, why not? Thinly sliced pork belly is good; bacon is better.
My daughter, Alex, made these delicious teriyaki bacon rice balls a few nights ago. They’re smaller than the ones at Fushimi Inari so you can enjoy more than one without feeling bloated.
Teriyaki Bacon Rice Balls
- 2 cups newly cooked Japanese rice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 8 rashers belly bacon
For the teriyaki sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup mirin
- ¼ cup sake
- Spread the hot rice on a tray, drizzle in the rice vinegar and stir gently until cool.
- Form the seasoned rice into eight balls.
- Preheat the broiler (top heat of the oven) to 400F.
- Wrap each rice ball with a bacon rasher.
- Arrange the bacon wrapped rice balls in a tray lined with non-stick paper or a silicone mat, and broil for about 20 to 25 minutes until the edges of the bacon are lightly browned.
- While the rice balls are in the oven, boil together all the ingredients for the teriyaki sauce until reduced in half.
- Take the rice balls out of the oven and brush generously with teriyaki sauce. Do this three or more times to allow the bacon to absorb the sauce.
- Put the rice balls back in the broiler and cook for another five minutes or so or until the teriyaki sauce caramelizes.
- Optionally, sprinkle the teriyaki bacon rice balls with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
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