Place the rice in a medium saucepot. Rinse the rice several times, pouring off the water and excess starches. (It’s best to do this is a bowl or pot, not a colander, so the rice grains don’t break.)
Place the sauce pot with the clean drained rice over high heat. Add 2 ½ cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and let the pot sit and steam another 10 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork. Then gently mix in the furikake and salt.
Use your hands, or Onigiri molds, to press the rice into balls or various shapes. If using molds, you might need to spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the pressed Onigiri on parchment or wax paper.
If desired, cut nori sheets and press the seaweed sheets against the Onigiri for decoration. You can also cut and decorate with sushi ginger or smoked salmon. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
We made traditional triangles with a nori strip garnish on the bottom, and balls with nori rings and a ginger garnish. To make the pandas, we skipped the furikake and added extra salt to taste, to keep the color clean and white. You can find all sorts of Onigiri molds at local Asian markets and on Amazon.These will keep well for at least a week. To store Japanese rice balls in the fridge, first, let them cool completely before covering them with a layer of plastic cling wrap. You can have all of the Onigiri on a plate covered with a single piece of plastic, or wrap each individual ball for longer storage.