By Cynthia Lair
Rice balls travel well in a lunch box or backpack, and give children the nutritional boost they need to stay on the go.
3/4 cup brown rice
1/4 cup sweet brown rice
1 1/2 cups water
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup brown sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
To make rice:
Because boiled rice will not hold together to form balls, it is best to pressure-cook it. Rinse and drain rice. Place rice, salt, and water in pressure cooker. Close cooker, place on medium heat, and bring up to pressure. When cooker is up to pressure, you'll hear a gentle, steady hissing sound. Lower heat and time for 35-40 minutes. Remove cooker from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally or by running cold water over the top. Allow rice to cool to room temperature before making rice balls.
To make sesame salt:
Rinse sesame seeds and drain through a fine strainer. Put seeds in a skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium heat. Toast seeds, stirring constantly until they begin to pop, change color slightly, and give off a toasty aroma. Put toasted seeds and salt in a suribachi (a serrated ceramic mortar) and grind with a pestle, or grind seeds and salt together in a blender or food processor. This condiment can be stored in a sealed container and used to flavor many foods (I like it on popcorn).
To make rice balls:
Spread about 1/3 cup sesame salt on a plate or shallow baking pan. Moisten hands with water, then gather a small handful of cooked rice. Press your hands around the rice, packing it into a ball about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Roll the ball in the sesame salt, covering all sides. Repeat until rice is used up or the desired number of balls is obtained. Rice balls will keep for 5 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. For added flavor, make a tamari-ginger dipping sauce by adding 1 teaspoon grated ginger to 1/4 cup tamari and 1/4 cup water.
Preparation: 20 minutes (if rice has already been cooked)
Makes 12-15 rice balls, 1 cup sesame salt