Race Ready Rice Balls

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This certainly isn’t an original idea. Half the world has been “fueling” on rice for generations. However it was definitely new to me back in 2015 when I got the chance to run the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji. I have a bit of a tricky stomach on race day. It’s not as bad as some but definitely more susceptible to souring, especially in the heat, than say my husband’s for instance. UTMF was my second hundred, and I was a bit concerned about how my stomach would fair running 106 miles around Mt Fuji in Japan. In my first, the Wasatch 100 my stomach suffered. Just ask my pacer how she kindly carried an open can of coke for a few miles of walk jogging so I could drink it mostly flat. While taking 32 hours to circumnavigate the sacred mountain, I had a lot of opportunity to experiment. I wasn’t having my greatest running day but thankfully my stomach was doing well, so try I did and I discovered that rice and miso soup work really well for me. I have since made these rice balls for many adventures; long days in the canyon, the Zion Traverse, and a few races including last week’s Bryce Canyon 50. Added bonus, they are very gentle on the stomach after finishing an event to get a few calories on board, and my crew at my last hundred ate the extras as snacks. In fact last weekend Rob gobbled up the leftovers in the late afternoon waiting for dinner.

These come together in minutes once the rice is ready and I’ve found they travel well and last a few days once made. You can certainly fill them with anything that sounds appetizing, and another option is to sprinkle with sesame seeds. I like to make them about 1/4 cup size as this is as much as I want to eat on the move at one time, but experiment to find a size that works for you. Soy sauce vs. salt would also be delicious. Note that I use plastic wrap so they are sealed and ready to throw in a pack to eat later. You could also of course take a more traditional approach and form by hand without the wrap.

Two important points here:

* Use Japanese or sushi rice and work with hot rice.

Ingredients/Materials to make around 8 small balls:

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 4-8 tablespoons Pickled ginger – I like to buy a container of sushi ginger and it’s easy to find at most grocery stores
  • water
  • salt
  • sugar
  • plastic wrap
  1.  Make rice – I have to say I love the ease of a rice cooker and after our trip to Japan we bought the one pictured. Perfect rice every time! Allow rice to cool just slightly.rice
  2. Lay out a piece of saran wrap – alternatively you can lay it in a small bowl or cup.
  3. Wet hands and sprinkle a few drops on the plastic, sprinkle on a little salt and sugar to taste.rice-2
  4. Use a quarter cup measuring cup to scoop rice and place on the plastic.
  5. Poke a small hole in the middle, and insert your filling, I like to use 1/2- 1 tablespoon pickled ginger.
  6. Gather the sides of the plastic, and twist and squeeze to get out all the air and form the rice into the shape you want. (I always use too much plastic, as I’m afraid of having too little, so you can use less than in the photo)
  7. Seal it up by wrapping the end around the base or tying a small knot and you are good to go!rice-9
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