A simple and delicious snack, side dish, picnic meal, lunchbox staple, and more — Jumeok Bap (Korean Rice Balls) always taste good!
If you love all the flavor and easy simplicity of Kimchi Fried Rice, let me introduce another way to enjoy it: Kimchi Jumeok Bap!
All the tasty pleasure of Kimchi Fried Rice. All the fun and gratifying texture of rice balls. YUM!
What is Jumeok Bap?
Jumeok Bap is a savory Korean rice ball. In Korean, Jumeok means “fist” and Bap means “rice.” Jumeok Bap means rice that is sized and/or shaped like a fist.
Korean Rice Balls are a popular snack, side dish, or lunch box item. They are simple to make and pleasurable to eat because of their satisfying texture. Instead of individual rice grains, you bite into a toothsome, chunky morsel of rice. Hearty and densely packed, rice balls have a satisfying heft and weight.
Just as there are many different ways to make fried rice, there are many different ways to season Jumeok Bap. Think of the main ingredient — rice — as a blank canvas.
Classic fillings for Jumeok Bap: canned tuna, cooked veggies, corn, ham, spam, ground meat, nori, etc. The fillings are also simple to vegan-ize or vegetarian-ize.
For Kimchi Jumeok Bap, the main flavoring is kimchi! Simple and delicious!
- Short Grain Rice. Also called sushi rice. Short grain rice is sticky and perfect for rolling into Korean rice balls. (And Gimbap!)
- Kimchi + Kimchi Juice. Adds lots of flavor and probiotic goodness.
- Gochujang + Fish Sauce. The easy flavor boosters.
- Sugar. A little sweetness to round out the acidic bite of kimchi.
- Sesame seeds. Adds lots of texture and flavor.
- Sesame oil. Don’t add too much! A little bit for flavor and nutty aroma makes a big difference.
- Furikake. Typically, roasted and crushed Nori (Gim) is added to Korean rice balls. Furikake is an easy swap. A generous sprinkling of Furikake adds tons of flavor. Also, texture! Furikake is a Japanese condiment made with nori, sesame seeds, salt, and a variety of other dried ingredients. My favorite kind (Seto Fumi) includes bonito flakes and dried egg yolk. Delicious!
- In a non-stick pan, add kimchi, kimchi juice, and gochujang.
- Cook until soft, caramelized, and dark orange in color.
- Add rice and sesame seeds. Mix well. Taste and season with fish sauce, sugar, and salt (if needed).
- Transfer rice to a large bowl and cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Time to make Jumeok Bap! Using disposable food service gloves, roll rice into balls. Make sure to press tightly with both hands.
- Roll in furikake. Sprinkle more on top. Enjoy!
- Slightly warm rice works best. Warm rice sticks together better. Leftover rice also works, as long as it’s heated until slightly steaming. The heat will make the rice stick together better.
- Use disposable food service gloves. Short grain rice is very sticky. Disposable food service gloves prevent rice from sticking everywhere! If you don’t own them, liberally wet your hands with water. Prep a small bowl of water next to you and rub palms with water before and while rolling.
- Chop filling ingredients into small pieces. Smaller-sized ingredients make everything hold together better. If the filling is too chunky, the rice ball will fall apart.
- Consider size. Although many Korean Dramas show Jumeok Bap rolled as large as a baseball, I’ve found that smaller ones stick together better. Smaller, golf-shaped sized ones are also easy to pop into your mouth whole. For beginners, I recommend smaller rice balls. But if you enjoy larger rice balls, take a square of nori to hold everything together as you eat. So much easier!
- Don’t be afraid to really press the rice balls together! The rice balls stick together better when compacted tightly. Cup and press into balls with the palms of your hands.
How do I eat Jumeok Bap (Korean Rice Balls)?
Simply pick up with your hands or chopsticks and enjoy! You don’t need utensils, although some people prefer using chopsticks. To make things less messy, pick up the rice ball with a square of roasted nori.
Serve as a snack, light meal, side dish, or picnic box item. There’s no wrong way to eat it!
Help! Why aren’t my rice balls sticking together?
Short grain rice is the secret to making rice balls that stick together. The short grains are plump and slightly sticky. Don’t use long grain rice — it’s too fluffy and won’t hold together! Instead, everything will fall apart. There’s not enough starch in long grain rice to act as “glue.”
Also, heat to activate the starchy “glue” in short grain rice. Warm rice is much easier to roll into balls. And pack tightly with your hands!
If the rice balls are still falling apart, I suggest omitting the sesame oil completely and cutting the kimchi into very small 1/4-inch pieces.
What is the difference between Jumeok Bap and Japanese Onigiri?
Japanese Onigiri and Jumeok Bap are similar, but not exactly the same. They are both seasoned rice balls. But there’s slight differences between the two.
In general (but not always), Onigiri is triangular with fillings placed in the center of the rice ball. Jumeok Bap is round like a ball with the fillings mixed throughout and a dusting of crushed Gim (roasted seaweed) on top. They are similar but not exactly the same.
How do I store Jumeok Bap? How long will it last?
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Rice balls also freeze well, up to 1 month.
Other rice recipes you may enjoy:
- Spam Kimchi Fried Rice
- Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice
- Tornado Egg Omelette with Ginger Fried Rice
- Korean Purple Rice
- Kongnamul Bap (Soybean Sprout Rice)
- Spicy Tuna Gimbap
Kimchi Jumeok Bap (Korean Rice Balls)
- non-stick pan
- disposable food service gloves
- large, shallow bowl
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 cup kimchi + juice
- 1-2 tsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste) (depending on spicyness preference)
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 3 cups short grain rice (cooked)
- 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- In a small bowl, add kimchi and kimchi juice. Use scissors to snip into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat non-stick pan on medium heat with 1 tsp sesame oil. Add kimchi, kimchi juice, and gochujang. Cook down until caramelized, soft, and golden orange in color, about 5 minutes.
- If using cold rice: add cold rice and sesame seeds. Continue cooking, making sure to break down the rice chunks with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Mix well until the rice grains are well coated and uniform in color, about 5 minutes. Season with fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a pinch of salt if needed.
- If using warm rice: Turn off the heat and add warm rice and sesame seeds to the cooked kimchi. Mix well with a fork or chopsticks until rice grains are well coated and uniform in color. Season with fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a pinch of salt if needed.
- Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly, about 5 minutes. The rice should be warm but cool enough to handle.
- Using disposable food service gloves, roll rice into balls. Make sure to press tightly with both hands. Set aside on a plate.
- Roll rice balls in furikake. Sprinkle more on top. Enjoy!