Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cream Pan's Salmon Onigiri - Tustin

We all know that Cream Pan makes the best strawberry croissant Orange County has ever seen. But the bakery does amazing things with its savory items too.

Among others, they've got crustless sandwiches using pristinely white, Wonder Bread-like loaves of their own making; weird but delicious dinner rolls stuffed with yakisoba noodles; and ham and cheese folded inside the buttery creases of their crisp croissants. The latter is perfect for breakfast with a scalding cup of strong black tea.

But I contend that the best savory thing Cream Pan makes requires no baking and no flour. It instead relies on the staple starch of Asia: rice.

It's called onigiri, and it is what a sandwich would look like if you made it out of Asia's most important crop. Most Japanese-to-English translations define onigiri as a rice ball; but that's slightly inaccurate as most are triangular, not spherical.

And also, there's almost always nori involved. The nori's utility is twofold. It adds a fishy, fresh-from-the-sea flavor, while also giving the eater a place to grip without getting sticky rice fingers.

You can find onigiri almost anywhere bento boxes are sold. Mitsuwa Market sells it in their fridge at the back of the store. But if you get the salmon onigiri there, you'd need to squint to find the small marble-sized chunk of fish they embed in the center. Rice comprises most of its volume. Each nibble taken makes you wonder, "How many bites does it take to get to the salmon center of Mitsuwa's salmon onigiri?"

But Cream Pan? They do one better -- they mix the salmon meat into the rice before sculpting. The result? Salmon and rice in every bite -- every mouthful a perfectly proportioned ratio of the two ingredients. The first chomp is as wonderful as the last.

Of course, if you don't want to plunk down the $2 for the treat, onigiri is one of the few Cream Pan items a home-cook can easily duplicate in their own kitchen (I've tried making their strawberry croissant myself and concluded it's cheaper to buy it).

The ingredients and method to assembly is as simple as this: mix rice and cooked salmon, form triangle.  

But in case, you need more specifics, I have included a video instructional on how to make different styles of onigiri courtesy of my favorite YouTube cooking show: Cooking with Dog.

And if a dog can do it...

Cream Pan
(714) 665-8239
600 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780

TK Burgers


At 6:17 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

I love onigiri but had no idea the nori was to avoid sticky fingers. Ingenius!

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Dennis K. said...

Hi MM, I love onigiri and I also really enjoy all the Cooking With Dog clips! Cheers.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger christoofat said... that first pic took me a few minutes to figure what exactly I was looking at! LOLOL

At 8:41 AM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Wow! Looks great. I haven't made onigiri before but now I know how to make it. The cooking with dog clip is so funny! Nice accent, and I like how the dog stands so still. It almost seems like the lady next to him is his worker and he is the boss.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


It's something someone Japanese told me once. And when I thought about it, it made sense!


"Cooking with Dog" should put out a DVD with a title menu that you can click and choose. I would totally buy it!


*so ashamed* it was a baaad pic wasn't it? Especially with that plastic wrap and the garish light of the sun reflecting off of it. I should've taken off the saran wrap and held it on its nori belt, like the way it was intended!


Amazing how they get the dog to sit still isn't it? As if cooking isn't hard enough!!!

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Marvin said...

I had never heard of or seen cooking with dog, and now you've got me hooked! I just spent the last five minutes completely entranced by a poodle.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

I love onigiri. Especially salmon onigiri. So do my boys. The Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights,Illinois sells fresh made onigiri at one of the places in their food court, and it is just perfect! Now, we get it at any one of the local Japanese places in town. I like it for a light meal. William and Xander devour a few in a sitting!

At 12:11 AM, Blogger Menu Taster said...

Yum - samlon onigiri. It's even better grilled at yakatori places. If you're in Japan, you can find this convenient food item everywhere, which go for $1. I love eating these as a quick breakfast. I'm glad you've shine some light on these tasty treats.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I have to scratch what I said about "Cooking with Dog" being my favorite YouTube cooking show. I need to revise it to say that "Cooking with Dog" IS my FAVORITE COOKING SHOW!

I only wish other cuisines follow this style.

Incidentally, I was instantly hooked too. Here's a post I wrote back in October 2008


I bet your kids prefer these over sandwiches! As do I!

Menu Taster,

I've yet to have it grilled, but yes, that does sound good! Crispy rice...mmmmmmm.

At 10:12 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

I wondered how the onigiri there was. Nice to know it's actually filled with meaty goodness, unlike those stupid triangles at Mitsuwa. Maybe I'll pick one up this weekend when I stop in.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

You know it might help if I actually looked like myself if I'm going to come by and comment. ;)

At 8:09 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Hey Ms. M!


I was there this morning and it was too early for them to put it out. But if they had them, I would've grabbed me an armful.

We are in agreement: These are far superior from Mitsuwa's! Though Mitsuwa's does have that innovative plastic wrapping around the nori to keep it crisp until you actually eat it, it doesn't make up for the lack of flavor.

P.S. I like your new avatar pic.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

Thanks E. It was from the happiest 4 days of my life thus far (though this week? it ranks WAY UP THERE). The photo is a good reminder of where I'm headed.

Confession. I am a retard about the onigiri at Mitsuwa. I can never open the package right. I am so smart but have no common sense sometimes, I'm tellin' ya...

At 12:14 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I'm ever so glad to hear that! (The part about this week being good, not the nori wrapper thing)...though, I admit, it took me a while to get the instructions down too. At first it was like threading a thread into a needle with greased chopsticks. Later, I got wise, and more importantly patient! Patience Daniel-san, I'd hear Mr. Miyago say, focus and tear at the dotted line!


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