Meharizushi are onigiri rice balls wrapped with a large pickled takana mustard leaf that are very popular in the Kumano district of Wakayama. Takana (Brassica juncea) is a vegetable with large green leaves that are pickled with salt. The salted greens are then squeezed and marinated with mirin and soy sauce. The seasoned green leaf is used to wrap onigiri rice balls.
Originally meharizushi was a simple traditional lunch for people working in the mountains or out in the fields. Long ago the size of the meharizushi was very big. One of the theories to the origin of the name is that the meharizushi was so big that when it was eaten one would have to open up their mouths very wide and their eyes would also open up big. Another theory is that the meharizushi was so delicious that it made your eyes open wide.
Meharizushi is also eaten in the mountain villages of neighboring Mie and Nara prefectures. In the old times rice was a source of nutrition. Meharizushi was an ingenious way to eat rice. Takana pickles have umami in the mirin and soy sauce. It’s a delicious onigiri.RECIPE_HEADEND