They’re such a fun departure from the typical snacks and side dishes that you’re used to. One try and you’ll be hooked on these bite-sized savory treats!
During our exploration of Korean recipes these past few months, we fell in love with Korean rice balls. A great leftover rice recipe, these little snacks are made with only a few ingredients and come together in no time.
The best word to describe them is “poppable”, as in every time I pass a plate of them on the counter, I pop one into my mouth! Fun to make, fun to eat – my kind of snack! Let’s get into it.
What is Jumeokbap?
The literal translation of jumeok bap is “fist rice”. That’s right, these golf ball-sized rice snacks are formed by squeezing the rice in your fist. The warmth of your hands will mold the rice ball to the perfect shape.
A staple in Korean food culture, jumeokbap can consist simply of seasoned rice, seaweed and soy sauce or it can be stuffed with a variety of savory fillings like tuna, bulgogi or even pickled vegetables like kimchi.
Similar to Japanese onigiri, these hand-shaped rice balls differ because they are not wrapped in seaweed and instead incorporate seaweed into the rice mixture.
What’s in this Korean Rice Ball Recipe
For this recipe, we’re making two different variations of the Korean rice ball – the basic rice ball and the spicy tuna rice ball.
Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need to form both recipes:
- Short grain rice – the pillar of both the Korean rice ball and the Japanese rice ball, short grain white rice is very starchy and sticky. My recommendation is to find sushi rice at your local grocery store.
- Nori – we want to crush these seaweed sheets into flakes. If you can find seaweed flakes already packaged, even better. But if you’re crushing the nori yourself, the best way is to use a food processor so you get nice, fine flakes.
- Sesame seeds or furikake – Furikake is a dry seasoning blend that contains seaweed flakes, fish flakes, sesame seeds and salt. It’s an awesome kick of flavor to sprinkle onto rice bowls, salads and noodle dishes. If you don’t have furikake, using plain sesame seeds is a good substitute.
- Soy sauce – to keep this recipe gluten free, use gluten-free soy sauce
- Sesame oil – a little goes a long way to hold these rice balls together
Here’s what you’ll need to make Korean tuna mayo rice balls:
How to Make Korean-Style Rice Balls
Make the Rice
You’ll want to make the rice and let it cool to room temperature so that you can handle it without it burning your hands.
Make the Rice Balls
This is so easy! Just combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set up a small bowl of water to dip your hands in. Using wet hands, form the balls.
At this point, you can choose to roll them in additional nori flakes or sesame seeds or just leave them as-is.
If you want to stuff these Korean rice balls with spicy tuna, simply start with half the amount of rice in your hand and form a small disc.
Put a little bit of the tuna mixture on top of the rice and place more rice on top. Then roll the rice ball in your hands to seal the edges around the tuna mixture.
How to Serve Korean Rice Balls
These simple rice balls make a delicious snack, tasty side dish or creative appetizer for Asian-inspired main courses. Their mild flavor makes them a great complement to spicy foods. They’re also a great picnic meal to bring along to parties and potlucks!
Serve the seaweed rice balls alongside roasted salmon with a green salad, or roll them in different furikake mixtures and sprinkle with chopped green onion to make a pretty appetizer platter.
The tuna rice balls make a light, protein-rich lunch on the go. Enjoy them with a side of kimchi for a healthy midday meal!
Variations and Substitutions
This Korean rice ball recipe is so versatile and customizable. The options are endless! Here are a few of my favorite twists:
- Kimchi Rice Balls: Incorporate the iconic Korean ingredient, kimchi, that adds a punch of spicy, fermented goodness to the rice.
- Bulgogi Rice Balls: Marinated and grilled bulgogi beef or tofu can be a scrumptious filling in these rice balls.
- Vegetarian/Vegan Korean Rice Balls: Try filling these rice balls with a combination of sautéed vegetables and extra firm tofu for a plant-based option.
How to Store Korean Rice Balls
Korean rice balls are best enjoyed while they’re fresh. If you do have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Be sure to allow them to come to room temperature before enjoying them again.
You could also give them a quick zap in the microwave to take the chill off.
When you make this Korean rice ball recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more Korean recipes, try these:
- Korean Fried Chicken with Soy Garlic Sauce
- Korean Vegetable Pancakes
- Chicken Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl)
For more rice-forward recipes, try these:
- Falafel Rice Bowl with Tahini Sauce
- Spicy Tuna Mayo Onigiri Recipe (Japanese Rice Balls)
- Indian Ginger Chicken & Rice
Easy Korean Rice Ball Recipe (How to Make Jumeokbap)
- 1 5 oz. can oil-packed tuna
- 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1/2 tsp. sriracha
Rice Cooker Instructions
- Place 2 cups of uncooked sushi rice into the rice cooker. Pour in 3 cups of water. Turn on the rice cooker. Once the rice cooker turns itself off, let the rice steam for 10-20 minutes. Remove the lid and let the rice cool before forming the rice balls.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the 2 cups of sushi rice using a rice paddle or wooden spoon. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook rice, covered, 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Allow the rice to cool until you can safely handle it.
Making the Rice Balls
- Combine the tuna, mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
- Crush the nori: place nori sheets into a food processor and pulse until fine. Alternatively, place nori into a Ziploc bag and crush them by hand.
- Combine the cooked rice, sesame seeds, soy sauce and sesame oil in a large bowl. To make the vegetarian rice balls: with wet hands, form golf ball-sized portions with the rice mixture. Roll in nori flakes.
- To make the tuna-filled rice balls: with wet hands, form rice into a small disk. Top with a small amount of tuna mixture. Place another disk of rice over the tuna and roll the rice ball to seal the edges.