A recipe for Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Rice! Rice is simmered in carrot juice and decorated into Jack-O-Lanterns with pieces of nori and green onion.
Happy Halloween everyone! I first came across the idea for these Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Rice Balls over on Apron Strings and loved the idea of adding some natural orange color to onigiri-style rice balls for such a fun seasonal treat.
To decorate the carrot rice in the shape of pumpkins, take a handful of the warm rice and form into a ball. For a more uniform shape, you can wrap the rice in plastic to easily shape and tighten. If desired, press a string into the sides of the ball from top to bottom to create ribs or ridges on the rice for a more pronounced pumpkin shape.
Use a craft knife, paring knife, scissors, or stencils to cut desired jack-o-lantern shapes out of nori. Press green onion pieces into the top of each pumpkin to make a stem.
A Few Tips
The pinch of sugar is optional, but I usually add it to help round out the flavors of the carrot juice and salt. After simmering, taste the cooked rice and adjust the salt and sugar as needed.
Some recipes add a little tomato paste or ketchup to create a more pronounced orange color.
The first time I made the Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Rice, I used a craft knife to cut out the faces from a sheet of nori. If you do this, make sure the knife is very sharp to keep it from catching on the nori and tearing. I now have a Halloween-themed onigiri set with Jack-O-Lantern-shaped punches specifically for the nori.
Don’t have nori? You can also make the Jack-O-Lantern faces with pieces of olives.
To form the stems, I gently pressed 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) green onion pieces into the top of each pumpkin. Other options include steamed green beans, green bell peppers, or even celery.
The Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Rice is best served immediately. For any onigiri that you want to prepare the night before, wrap the formed rice balls in plastic and wrap additionally with a kitchen towel to help keep the outer layer of rice from drying out and getting hard while in the refrigerator.
Looking for more Halloween recipe ideas?
Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Rice Recipe
Adapted from Apron Strings
Jack-O-Lantern Carrot Rice
- 1 1/2 cups (315 grams) uncooked Japanese short grain rice
- 2 cups (473 milliliters) carrot juice
- 1 cup (237 milliliters) water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pinch sugar optional
- 2 sheets nori
- 1 green onion
To make in a rice cooker:
- Combine the rice, carrot juice, water, salt, and sugar. Cook according to manufacturer settings.
To make in a saucepan:
- Bring carrot juice, water, salt, and optionally sugar to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until all the liquid has absorbed (without removing lid), about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, remove cover, lightly fluff with a fork, and allow to cool just enough to handle.
- Use a craft knife, paring knife, scissors, or stencils to cut desired jack-o-lantern shapes out of nori.
- Discard the white and light green sections of green onion. Cut the dark green blades into 1 inch (2.5 centimeter) pieces.
- Place a small bowl of water next to work surface. Wet hands and form handful-sized scoops of rice into a ball. If desired, wrap the rice in plastic wrap to help form a round shape.
- Optionally, use a string to press into the sides of the ball to make the ribs of the pumpkin (ridges running from top to bottom).
- Carefully press the cut out nori pieces in desired pattern on the front of each ball of rice.
- Gently push the end of the green onion piece into the top to make the stem.
- Serve immediately.