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I credit our friends Bryan and Jenn for my sushi infatuation. The last time they came to visit (they live a state away), we went out and loaded our table with all manner of rolls and nigiri. I was hooked. So when the ever creative Heidi at 101 Cookbooks posted the recipe for her Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls, it gave me an idea. Why not make brown sushi rice balls? They would have endless flavor combinations and be easier than the traditional rolling process.

Sushi rice mix
Sushi rice mix

Adding toasted seaweed to the rice mixture gives just the right amount of good-fishy flavor to the little balls.

And filling them is the fun part:

sashimi grade ahi tuna + avocado + spicy mayonnaise

avocado + spicy mayonnaise + pickled ginger

sashimi grade ahi tuna + avocado + pickled ginger


How about sashimi grade salmon, crab, or even solid rice balls topped with a thin slice of ahi or salmon (similar to nigiri); you see where I’m going with this. So many options!

Scooping rice ball
Rice ball ready
Rice ball
Sushi Balls and Seared Tuna

More Must-Try Appetizers

Brown Rice Sushi Balls

Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Calories: 77
Servings: 14 rice balls
Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks You can enjoy these right after you make them or chill them for later. They’re conveniently portable if you take care to keep the container upright (otherwise bring a fork). 🙂


For the rice balls:

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice (or brown sushi rice) prepared according to package directions and cool enough to handle comfortably
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons minced toasted seaweed I used Annie Chun’s sesame seaweed snacks
  • 1 ounce toasted almonds finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives divided

For the spicy mayonnaise:

  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 1 dash soy sauce
  • 1 dash lemon juice

Some filling options:

  • small cubes of avocado tossed with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown
  • tiny cubes of sashimi grade ahi tuna or salmon
  • pickled ginger
  • spicy mayonnaise recipe above

For dipping (optional):

  • 2 parts soy sauce to 1 part sesame oil
  • soy sauce + wasabi paste to taste


  • Line a container or platter with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Combine all rice ball ingredients – reserving 1 tablespoon of the chives for garnish – in a large bowl. Season to taste with fine sea salt.
  • Line a small, deep cup with plastic wrap. Scoop in enough of the rice mixture to fill about 2/3 full. Make an indentation in the center of the rice and fill with your choice of ingredients (see suggested combinations above). Gather the plastic wrap straight up from the sides and use your fingers to gently cover the filling with rice. Lift the ball from the bowl and gently twist it, letting any air escape. Use your fingertips and opposite palm to shape a round ball (see photo above). Gently remove the ball from the plastic wrap and place in container or on platter. Repeat with remaining rice mixture (you’ll get the hang of it after a few balls). Sprinkle with reserved chives for garnish.


Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Laura says:

    Looks like so much fun to make with my kids!

  2. anerdcooks says:

    Such a neat way to enjoy sushi! My husband and I are hooked on it, too. In fact, we’re heading out tomorrow to gorge ourselves ;). I’d love to try this out some day!

  3. Jenny says:

    These look fantastic! I’ve been trying to track down sushi grade salmon, could you let us know where you were able to find your? 🙂

    1. Marissa says:

      We have a great fish monger in town. I would talk to someone at the fish counter where you shop and ask them about it – they may be able to get it for you even if they don’t usually stock it. Good luck!

  4. Sarah (Thyme) says:

    My kids had so much fun making these when we lived in Japan. This would be a school activity for fun and I was a helper in the classroom with the kids. My son is now 15 and STILL makes these balls for lunch.

    1. Marissa says:

      What a great idea to do these with kids! I love that your son still makes them on his own…