Kimchi Jumuk Bap (Kimchi Rice Balls)

Kimchi Rice Ball |

Jumuk + Bap = Fist + Rice

A friend of mine once asked me what jumuk bap meant. I told her that it directly translated to “fist rice.” She thought it weird, but I never once questioned the reason behind it. It was always very clear to me. It’s usually about the size a small fist. And you have to theoretically make a fist-motion in order to form these suckers. Apparently, that astute observation and explanation didn’t convince her. Whatever. No jumuk bap for you little lady!

All kidding aside, jumuk bap has humble beginnings. It was originated due to necessity and convenience for those who had to travel long distances. It was something that was portable and convenient for travelers for sustenance with very little bulk and weight. It was also economical and easy to make. In its original form, it usually just consisted of rice and salt (probably as a preservative). Over the years, it’s become more of a casual, but fancier, fare made with ground meats, salmon, vegetables, or other mix-ins and fillings. It’s now really re-invented itself into fun finger food. For example, rice balls can be really fun served as appetizers for parties or other gatherings.

That’s exactly what I decided to do. I made small, kimchi-rice, bite-sized rice balls to serve as appetizers. And I made them with seaweed strips for easy handling. Your guest can pick them up by the seaweed strip and just pop them in their mouth! They will love these unique appetizers. You can also roll them in toasted sesame seeds. I started to do it, then thought better of it. Did I really want inebriated people carrying around sesame-seed-dusted rice balls on a tiny appetizer plate? Not unless I wanted to spend the next few weeks picking up sesame seeds from the sofa cushions and the rug. 😉

You can always make them bigger, if you want to serve them as a meal; process is the same. Just use more of the rice mixture. They are enjoyable all the same.

Kimchi Jumuk Bap (Brown Rice) |

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Kimchi Jumuk Bap (Kimchi Rice Balls) Recipe
Makes about a dozen appetizer-sized rice balls
1/4 cup chopped kimchi
1 tsp gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
1/4 cup frozen corn or combination of corn and sweet peas
2-3 cups steamed short-grain rice
2 tsp flax seeds, ground
1 sheet toasted seaweed
1 tsp rice vinegar (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)


  1. While the steamed rice is still warm, add ground flax seeds and vinegar to the rice (if using). Mix well. Allow to cool enough to handle.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of pan. Add kimchi to the pan and saute. Once the kimchi starts to turn translucent, add gochujang. Stir. Add frozen corn (or corn and peas). Stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
  3. Add the kimchi mixture to the rice. Mix well. Salt to taste if necessary. Wet your hands with water. Scoop up about 2-3 TB of the rice mixture and form into a ball. Repeat with the rest of the rice balls. If you are using brown rice, it will be more difficult to shape them due to their tendency to separate. If you’re using brown rice, rip a strip of saran wrap. Add about 2-3 TB of the mixture to the saran wrap. Pull the saran wrap around the rice mixture. Shape them into balls. Twist the excess saran wrap to close. Repeat with rest of rice mixture. Allow them to sit for about 15-20 minutes in the fridge.
  4. Cut the seaweed into thin long strips. It should easily stick. If desired roll them in toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Cook’s Note*:

I use ground flax seeds – totally optional – for their health benefits (omega-3 and fiber) as well their binding qualities.

Short-grain rice or sushi rice should be used. They are stickier in nature and easier to shape. If you are using brown rice, make sure to use short grain and/or brown sweet rice.

If you want a gluten-free option, skip the gochujang.

If you have the time and/or the inclination, please read on.

heart_18 Gomo
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I still consider myself a pretty newbie blogger. When I first started, I had no idea there was even a food-blogging community. I just started the blog to archive what I was eating for me and my family – family food album of sorts. But a few months after I started my blog, my sister-in-law insisted I sign up for Google+. I signed up, but I wasn’t active at all. I wish I had been. Because when I started getting to know some of the bloggers, I found many of them to be very supportive.

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award (for new or new-ish blogs) a few times over the years. But I haven’t been able to pass on the love due to a crazy schedule that I was juggling. I don’t want to wait longer to pay it forward. So I will name the blogs that frequent on a regular basis, regardless of the age of the blog. So this isn’t for Liebster purposes, but to show my love for these blogs.

I would like to thank the blogs that have nominated me over the past year or so:

1. To Food with Love – Beautiful Asian(-centric) Food Blog
2. Kavita’s Kitchen – Indian Food Blog (no longer posting)
3. Healthy Epicure – Great French Healthy Recipes Blog
4. Bitter Baker – Amazing Baking Blog

The following are the four blogs that I visit on a regular basis. There are many more, but I can’t list them all! And I will have to do a separate post on the plussers I’m obsessed with. 😉

1. Sandra’s Easy Cooking: Sandra was probably one of the first bloggers I met through Google+. So I guess you can call her my first blogger friend. She is super supportive of all bloggers – especially the new ones. She has a wonderful blog full of great simple recipes.
2 Just One Cookbook: Nami has a beautiful Japanese cooking blog. And she makes some really mean rice balls as well.
3. MJ’s Kitchen: MJ has a great southwestern flavored blog. She loves spicy foods as much as I do as evidenced by her many recipes that include chile.
4. Behgopa – This IS actually a new blog. I found out about this blog, because she leaves the sweetest comments on my site. It’s not strictly a recipe blog. But it is a food blog full of humor with recipes. You should go check it out and show her some love!

Ok, Sandra is probably saying, “I’m your first blogger friend? Girl, what were you doing for the first year of your blog?!” Well, I was being a bad, anti-social blogger living in her cyber cave – fending off cyber attacks with her virtual lightsaber. 😛 Wow, awkward. That was so stupid nerdy even for me.

I blame it on sleep deprivation. Yeah… I’m sticking with that.


24. May 2013 by gomo
Categories: Appetizer, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grains, Kimchi, Korean Food, Main Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | 26 comments

Comments (26)

  1. Hi Gomo! Thank you for including me on your list! I feel honored. It’s been about three months now for me. Getting to know the food blogging community has been fun… many great food bloggers out there. Yeah I don’t really post recipes. Maybe I will in the future, but for now, it’s more about sharing stories about my culinary experiences (including the crazy things that happen in the professional kitchen).

    I haven’t had jumokbap in ages. I remember packing these when going on road trips. They are convenient to munch on when on the go. And yeah, Jumok bap has come a long way since its humble beginnings. I can’t eat it without the toasted sesame seeds though lol. But true…they can be a pain to clean up after.

    • You’re so welcome! It’s my pleasure. When I first started blogging, I didn’t even know there was such a community. All I did was post my recipes, and share with my family and friends! But I did end up meeting some great people along the way.

      I forgot all about jumuk bap until a few years ago when my mom made some for me as a snack. I tend to get migraines if I’m hungry; and she thought it would do the trick to sate my hunger until a real meal. Not only did it work, I enjoyed it so much that I now make it often. When it’s just me and the family, I add sesame seeds. But I don’t trust my wino friends with them. 😉 Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

  2. I always find that smaller things are tastier 😉 These look super delicious though! How do you get involved on Google+? I’ve been using it to share my things, but how do you join a blogging community?

    • Hi Grace! That’s what I do. I just started sharing things on G+ and just meeting people through interacting with them on my (or their) posts. I wasn’t talking about a particular group per se. But there are communities you can join within G+.

      I tend to like fingers foods at parties. It’s just easier and less awkward to eat! These were quite tasty. Thanks Grace! 🙂

  3. Oh, I love these rice balls! I actually bought a jar of Kimchi the other day to make your Kimchi Bulgogi Rice Bowl which I’ll be making next week, but I might have to set aside 1/4 cup for these. They looking quite yummy! Thanks so much for the award Darlin! That means A LOT to me. You are definitely deserving of this award many times over because you are a “sweetheart, a friend”. Congratulations! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

    • Thanks MJ! I must say that I’m a bit ashamed of not paying it forward for so long. And I still didn’t do it properly! But the blogs that I follow on a regular basis are the established ones. What can I say, the heart wants what the heart wants. 😉

      I hope you like the kimchi bulgogi rice bowls. It’s such a Korean comfort food. I hope you are doing well and have great long weekend!

  4. Super cute kimchi rice balls!!!! These are perfect for potluck and sides for bbq party and ALL occasion! I grew up with rice balls in my lunch box, and it has a sentimental feeling. I love your kimchi rice balls. Adorable<3

    Thank you for your kind mention, and I'm so happy to have met you! Sandra is also my first friend I made, and it's been 2.5 years since I know her. She's a very special person, and I know exactly how you mean! I hope all of us can meet somewhere one day… 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend! xoxo

    • Thanks Nami! I love these for just about any occasion too. Convenient and Tasty. Can’t ask for much more than that!

      You’re so welcome! I don’t think I would be as active on certain social media platforms if not for people like you and Sandra. My default and inclination is not to do it. 🙂 And I’m so glad to have met both of you. I hope we can all get together one day too. I hope you are having fun with your family this weekend!

  5. The idea of fist rice makes total sense! Same thought process as ice cream or fish sticks. 😉 Super recipe – love the kimchi in these! I’ve not heard of these before, but definitely need to try them – thanks so much.

    • Thanks John! So glad we are in agreement. My friend did eventually end up agreeing with me though… after I withheld these from her. Never claimed I was mature! 😀 You can make them with just about any mix-ins as long as the rice to mix-in ratio stays about the same. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  6. Mmm, why have I never tried these before?! Kimchi is one of my favorite flavors! And you did a beautiful job with the presentation, bravo!:-)

    • Thanks Jess! It’s not something that’s offered at your average Korean restaurant. They are more reserved for the casual Korean grub type of a place. I don’t think there are any in NYC. They are easy to make though. Give them a try at home! 🙂

  7. Love this! I may just have to make this for dinner tonight!

  8. You’re very smart/organised to think ahead of actual cooking! It didn’t even cross my mind about the potential mess that sesame seeds will create on my carpet/sofa etc. 🙂 I feel like going for a picnic.

    • I think I’m just realistic about folks when wine is flowing! 😀 The weather is finally nice enough here to go on picnics. I’m definitely taking advantage of it. Thanks Sue!

  9. It’s amazing how satisfying and even soulful a simple ball of rice can be. I fell for the Japanese version many moons ago. Am addicted to them now. Can’t wait to try this Korean version with the kick of spice.

    • You should give these a try. They are so easy to make and, yes, so wonderful in their simplicity. They definitely have a spicy kick. 🙂 Thanks Carolyn!

  10. Aaa, you’re so sweet!! Thanks for the link love 🙂 Your blog is absolutely one of my favorites, and each and every single one of the recipes that I’ve tried from your site has been great! I make the green smoothie every day 🙂

    • You’re so welcome Yvonne! Thanks for thinking of us in the first place and for your kind words. 🙂 One of my new year resolutions was to bake more this year. My lack of patience is not the best thing when it comes to baking. I’ll be visiting your site often to get some tips!

  11. I am already in love with the Japanese rice balls and have never suspected Korean rice balls exist. It sounds too good to be true! Kimchi rice with lots of other delicious ingredients, formed into a cute round ball? I will be making these very very soon! Thank you for one more inspiring recipe.
    (I had a good laugh reading about the sesame seeds. As a sesame seeds addict, I would probably be tempted to put them into AND around the balls, so I am very grateful for your warning: if I ever serve them at a party, I don’t want to find sesame seeds all around the house….).

    • Thanks Sissi! I love these things for their versatility, convenience, taste, and the fun-factor. You can basically put anything in them. Just make sure there’s enough of the rice to act as glue. 🙂

      Sesame seeds are deceptively “bouncy.” I made some sesame-rolled rice balls once for a friend, and I found the seeds in the weirdest places when I was cleaning! 😀 Not doing that again. Hope you’re having a great week!

  12. You made me laugh so much and thank you for including me, as well as Nami. Like she said we clicked from the the moment we started to talk and I feel the same with you…so thank you for being not only supportive blogger but a friend too.
    On the other note your kimchi jumuk bap looks amazing, I actually did made something similar before, but never made it into fist size, it was more like put in the bowl and eat…but this is fantastic idea for guests or take to picnic. I love the addition of flax seeds, and corn.

    Oh and (Girl*) I am glad you came out of the shell and started to share these amazing recipes. xo

    • You’re so welcome Sandra! You, Nami, and a few others have really provided me with a lot of encouragement. I’m so glad I met you guys, and consider you all friends. And thanks! These rice balls are great for so many occasions. They are so much fun to eat too. Thanks again for your kind words! <3

  13. Hey, I reeeeeeally, really love this site. Finally I found recipes in the style I searched for: healthy, korean and they can be modified (I’m a vegetarian).
    So can I use your Quick Oi Kimchi Recipe for this?

    best regards <3

    • Thank you so much Miyu and welcome!!! Oi Kimchi isn’t normally used in Kimchi fried rice dishes. And in this case, it may even cause the rice balls to fall apart. You can, however, use the cucumber (cut into smaller pieces) as a filling, kind of like umeboshi in Japanese rice balls. If you decide to do that you can just use sushi rice, instead of kimchi fried rice. Either way, it will be good; I love rice balls! Have a great weekend!

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