The Ingredient To Amp Up Spicy Tuna Onigiri

There are plenty of great ways to make your budget stretch when it comes to canned tuna. This nutritious protein can pair well with all sorts of other ingredients and dishes such as pasta, among others. It also benefits from quick additions like herbs or mayonnaise to make a complete and filling meal or snack without a serious price tag.

One place where tuna really gets to shine is in onigiri. For those that have never had the snack before, My Healthy Japan explains onigiri are a type of Japanese rice ball. Often found in Japanese bento boxes, sold in specialty shops, and even vending machines, starchy short-grain rice is seasoned and wrapped around an interior stuffing to create a quick and portable lunch. Because the food is commonly found and easily transported, it's a favorite for school lunches and hungry travelers.

A popular onigiri variety, if you really want to take your spicy tuna onigiri to the next level you should try including a zesty ingredient.

Lemon brightens fishy flavors

According to Sift and Simmer, spicy tuna onigiri only takes a few ingredients to pack a powerful flavor punch. Canned tuna, red pepper flakes, mayo, green onions, and sriracha are mixed together to make the filling for the onigiri, while white rice, furikake, sesame seeds, and nori make up the exterior shell. But to really make the most of this simple dish, you should try adding some lemon to your spicy tuna onigiri.

The bright acidic notes of citrus cut through the other elements of the filling to make something greater than the sum of its parts. As for how you go about doing so, there are a few different ways: Bon Appétit recommends adding a generous amount of lemon zest (about one large lemon worth), but if you're not a fan of lemon zest — or using a zester — you can follow Sift and Simmer's example and mix in a little lemon juice for a similar zip.

Citrus has been well known as a great pairing for fish like tuna for a long time. The Seafood Nutrition Partnership says that this is because citrus helps brighten many flavors, and lessens the more unappetizing fishy notes that are present in some filets. Seattle Times says that the citric acid in lemon juice also helps break down fats and proteins like those found in tuna and mayonnaise. This helps the ingredients in this onigiri meld together, and become something truly spectacular.