Korean Rice Balls (Jumeokbap 주먹밥)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 20/06/2023 Updated: 30/11/2023
Prep 5 minutes
Total 15 minutes
Korean rice balls or Jumeokbap 주먹밥 are a made with short grain white rice that are rolled into compact balls filled with tuna. These seaweed covered rice balls are a popular flavorful snack that are perfect for picnics or as a on the go snack!
Korean Rice Balls (Jumeokbap 주먹밥)

Korean rice balls or Jumeokbap 주먹밥 are made with short-grain white rice that is rolled into compact balls filled with tuna. These seaweed-covered rice balls are a popular flavorful snack that is perfect for picnics or as an on-the-go snack!

A plate with several seasoned korean rice balls on it.

Korean rice balls or Jumeokbap 주먹밥 are quick and easy to make as an on-the-go snack or lunch. These sticky rice balls are made with flavored short-grain sticky rice which are then filled with tuna mayo and coated with seaweed seasoning. These Korean rice balls are the ideal snack to make for picnics, special events, or as an on-the-go snack. The best part about this easy Korean rice ball recipe is that you can create it from start to finish in under 15 minutes!

This jumeokbap recipe can be easily customized too with different fillings! If tuna rice balls are not your thing, you can substitute the filling with bulgogi, kimchi, or seasoned vegetables. You can check out your options in the substitutions and additions section below. If you are looking for more small bites recipe ideas, check out our tuna onigiri, Vietnamese shrimp toast, and spicy tuna crispy rice.

Someone holding up a korean rice ball with a seaweed snack.

What are Korean Rice Balls (Jumeokbap 주먹밥)?

Jumeokbap 주먹밥 directly translates to “fist rice.” The name stems from the shape of the rice ball that resembles a fist. Korean rice balls are a common item in a dosirak, or a packed meal, that is often served as a light meal, snack, street food, or accompanying a spicy dish.

Jumeokbap originated in the 1990s when Japanese cuisine spread to Korea and onigiri was popularized. These rice balls are typically made with various fillings such as tuna mayo, bulgogi, kimchi, or seasoned vegetables.

Several korean rice balls on a plate ready to be served.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make! These seaweed rice balls are made with simple yet flavorful ingredients which can be easily created in under 15 minutes!
  • Perfectly Portable. These tuna rice balls are the epitome of convenience. They’re bite-sized which makes them easy to carry and enjoy on the go, for a picnic or a quick snack.
  • Bursting with flavor! These tiny compact rice ball treats are so satisfying and packed with delicious savory flavors.
Holding a korean rice ball with a bite out of it to show the tuna filling.

Kitchen Equipment

This Korean rice ball recipe only requires a few items of staple kitchen equipment listed below.

  • Rice Cooker or Pot: You will need either a rice cooker or a pot to cook your rice.
  • Mixing Bowls: You will need two different mixing bowls to season the rice and to season the tuna filling.
  • Measuring Cup: To make evenly sized rice balls, use a 1/3 cup measuring cup so that all the seaweed rice balls are uniform.
  • Plastic Wrap. using plastic wrap to form the sticky rice balls helps prevent the rice from sticking to your hands!

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this Korean rice ball recipe at your local Asian grocery store or online.

  • Short Grain Sushi Rice: short grain or medium grain sushi rice has more starch than long grain rice jasmine rice making them sticker which binds together to create a round shape.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: a touch of toasted sesame oil brings a nutty roasted flavor to the sticky rice and prevents the Korean rice balls from sticking to your hands.
  • Tuna: Tuna is the main base of these seaweed rice balls. You can swap out the tuna filling for the alternative fillings listed below.
  • Kewpie Mayonnaise: Kewpie mayo has a tangy, sweet umami flavor. It is creamier and richer in flavor than regular mayonnaise since it is made with egg yolks instead of the whole egg.
  • Salt and Pepper: salt and pepper season the tuna filling.
  • Furikake Seaweed Seasoning: seaweed seasoning is typically made up of seaweed flakes, sesame seeds, salt, sugar, and bonito flakes. It adds another layer of flavor and also helps
  • Seaweed sheets or seaweed snacks: a small sheet of seaweed aids as a mechanism to help hold your tuna mayo rice balls.

Substitutions and Additions

The beauty of this jumeokbap recipe is that the filling is completely customizable! Here are some different filling ideas for creating your own delicious Korean rice ball recipe below.

  • Bulgogi
  • Korean bbq marinated Chicken or Pork
  • Tofu
  • Kimchi or Kimchi and Cheese
  • Spam
  • Dried Anchovies
  • Fish Cakes
  • Seasoned Vegetables: mushroom, spinach, bell peppers, squash, cauliflower, carrots, etc
  • Cheese
  • Spice: if you’d like to make a spicy tuna filling, go ahead and add a splash of sriracha to your filling mixture.

How to Make Korean Rice Balls

Here are the steps on how to make this jumeokbap recipe!

  1. Make the tuna filling. In a medium mixing bowl, add the drained canned tuna Japanese mayo, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine. Set aside.
  1. Season the rice. In a large mixing bowl, add the warm rice, sesame oil, and salt. Mix to combine. Set aside to cool.
  1. Assemble the rice. Place a piece of plastic wrap over a 1/3 measuring cup and fill it with the seasoned rice. Pull the rice out with the plastic wrap then flatten the rice into a thin disk.
  1. Add the filling. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the tuna mixture into the rice and then wrap the rice around the filling. Twist the plastic wrap at the top to tightly create the shape of a ball.
  1. Coat. Lightly roll the sticky rice ball on a plate of seaweed seasoning. Pair with a square of seaweed and enjoy!
A korean rice ball after being rolled in seaweed seasoning.

Tips for the Best Korean Rice Balls

  • Rice selection: use short-grain Korean rice or sushi rice for the right amount of stickiness and texture to create the sticky rice balls.
  • Rice preparation: make sure to wash your rice until the water runs clear to prevent the rice from becoming overly sticky. Once cooked, let it cool slightly before forming the balls.
  • Use plastic wrap or food-safe gloves: the best way to prevent the rice from overly sticking to your hands is to use plastic wrap or gloves when forming the jumeokbap.
  • Press firmly. When forming the tuna rice balls, make sure to press the rice firmly to ensure the sticky rice ball holds its shape.
  • On-the-go storage: if you plan on enjoying these seaweed rice balls later, wrap them individually in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

Storage Instructions

I recommend consuming your Korean rice balls within 6 hours since the rice will stiffen as it cools. However, you can also store any jumeokbap in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freeze: if you’d like to make these tuna mayo rice balls in advance, wrap each rice ball with plastic wrap and store it in an airtight freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight before reheating.

Reheat: Since the rice will harden over time in the refrigerator, sprinkle a few droplets of water over the riceballs, microwave covered until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What is the difference between Onigiri and jumeokbap?

The Japanese onigiri and the Korean jumeokbap are both made with seasoned sticky short-grain rice and are both created to be packed for transport. The main difference between the onigiri and jumeokbap is its shape where the former is traditionally a pyramid and the latter, a sphere.

What type of rice do you use for Korean rice balls?

Short-grain Korean rice or sushi rice is the best type to use since it has more starch than Jasmine white rice. This makes it sticker and helps the rice balls hold their shape.

What kind of fillings can I use for Korean rice balls?

You can fill your own seaweed rice balls with the listed tuna mayo filling, or substitute it with bulgogi, stir-fried vegetables, kimchi, cheese, etc. You can be creative with it.

Can you make Korean riceballs vegetarian or vegan?

Yes of course! You can easily swap out the tuna mayo filling for a plant-based filling such as seasoned vegetables or tofu.

Other Tasty Korean Recipes to Try

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Several korean rice balls on a plate ready to be served.

Korean Rice Balls (Jumeokbap 주먹밥)

4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Assembling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Korean rice balls or Jumeokbap 주먹밥 are a made with short grain white rice that are rolled into compact balls filled with tuna. These seaweed covered rice balls are a popular flavorful snack that are perfect for picnics or as a on the go snack!
Servings: 3 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Seasoned Rice

Tuna Filling

Garnish

Instructions

  • Make the tuna filling. In a medium mixing bowl, add the drained canned tuna Japanese mayo, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine. Set aside.
  • Season the rice. In a large mixing bowl, add the warm rice, sesame oil, and salt. Mix to combine. Set aside to cool.
  • Assemble the rice. Place a piece of plastic wrap over a 1/3 measuring cup and fill it with the seasoned rice. Pull the rice out with the plastic wrap then flatten the rice into a thin disk.
  • Add the filling. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the tuna mixture into the rice and then wrap the rice around the filling. Twist the plastic wrap at the top to tightly create the shape of a ball.
  • Coat. Lightly roll the sticky rice ball on a plate of seaweed seasoning. Pair with a square of seaweed and enjoy!

Notes

  • Rice selection: use short-grain Korean rice or sushi rice for the right amount of stickiness and texture to create the sticky rice balls.
  • Rice preparation: make sure to wash your rice until the water runs clear to prevent the rice from becoming overly sticky. Once cooked, let it cool slightly before forming the balls.
  • Use plastic wrap or food-safe gloves: the best way to prevent the rice from overly sticking to your hands is to use plastic wrap or gloves when forming the jumeokbap.
  • Press firmly. When forming the tuna rice balls, make sure to press the rice firmly to ensure the sticky rice ball holds its shape.
  • On-the-go storage: if you plan on enjoying these seaweed rice balls later, wrap them individually in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
  • Storage Instructions. Korean rice balls are best consumed within 6 hours since the rice will stiffen as it cools. However, you can also store any jumeokbap in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 558mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 34IU | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




  1. 4 stars
    Can u give instructions on how to cook the rice from scratch? What is the ratio of rice to water when cooked in the rice cooker?