Trail runners often ask me what they should eat when they have upset stomachs caused by too much sun (heat exhaustion) or too much sugar (nausea, vomiting or diarrhea). The answer is rice balls (onigiri).
I eat rice balls when I need a quick pick-me-up, and I also eat them when I can’t eat anything else. They are portable so you can take them in your pack, or store them in your aid station drop bag. American ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek (in his book Eat & Run) says white rice is:
- Great for cooling your body
- Packed with carbohydrates
- Soft and easy to digest
- A great source for electrolytes and salt
Rice balls can be made in any size or shape, and can be eaten plain or with seaweed for added flavor.
1 cup Japanese rice (we use Kokuho Rose)
1 1/4 cups water
Nori seasweed (we use Costco’s Kirkland Roasted Seasoned Seaweed)
Cook the rice in water using a rice cooker, or on the stovetop (bring to a boil over high heat, cover pan and simmer for 25 minutes). Remove from heat to cool slightly.
Rice can be formed into any shape you want … three common shapes (rectangles, triangles, round balls) are in the photo below.
- Fill a small bowl with water and wet both hands.
– If you are using a plastic container (i.e, rectangle or triangle) to shape the rice, wet the sides of the container (water helps to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands or the container).
- Salt your hands.
– If you are using a plastic container, salt the the bottom of the container.
- Use your hands to form the rice into a bite-sized ball.
– If you are using a plastic container, press the rice into the container. Salt the top of the rice and then flip over the container to release the rice. If necessary, cut the rice to the desired size.
- If desired, wrap the nori sheets around the rice. If two pieces of nori overlap, use water to seal the two edges together.
- Store the rice balls in a container or ziploc bag.