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
- 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.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.