Korean Rice Triangles(삼각주먹밥 Samgak Joomukbap)

Korean Riceballs


When my daughter was in high school, I think I made Joomukbap at least 3 times a week for her lunch. Because of her intolerance to gluten (although she tested negative for Celiac disease, we know for sure that she did not do well with gluten foods), we had to come up with lunch menus that were gluten free. So Jumukbap (주먹밥 – literally means “fist-rice”) was a great gluten free lunch that could keep her satisfied throughout the day. She loved how she could sometimes sneak in a Jumukbap in the morning in between classes, especially if she didn’t get to have a good breakfast – which is often the case with busy high school students.

The recipes introduced here are a combination of my sis#3’s recipe and mine. Making Jumukbap is not too hard or too time consuming if you plan ahead a little. You can cook the rice in the rice cooker the night before or if you have a fancier rice cooker with auto cook feature, you can have it set to cook before you even get up in the morning. And some of the fillings can be made the night before which will also save time!



Option A: 2 C of white rice(short grain) + 1/2 C of sweet rice

Sweet rice and white rice

Left: sweet rice, Right: regular short grain rice

Option B: 2 1/2 C of white rice(short grain) – choose option B if you don’t like the stickiness of the sweet rice or don’t have the sweet rice

Seasoning for Rice:

  • 1 T sesame oil to taste
  • 1 tsp salt (good quality sea salt)


Fillings - Spam, Ground Beef, Seasoned Seaweed

Fillings – Spam, Ground Beef, Seasoned Seaweed(Laver)

  • Spam(Use 25% less sodium)
  • Seasoned ground beef
  • Tuna with Mayonnaise
  • CJ Rice Seasoning(밥이랑 Babirang)
  • American processed cheese
  • Seaweed (김 Kim)


1. Wash 2 C regular short grain rice and 1/2 C sweet rice together, rinse and drain.  The amount of water needed to cook sweet rice is less than regular rice and we also want the rice to be less mushy or drier, so use less than usual amount of water when cooking the rice. If you have a rice cooker, just add enough water to reach 2 1/2 C water mark. If you are using a pot, just add 2 1/2 C water. If all else fails, a Korean way to roughly measure water level is to lay your hand on top of the rice and see if the water reaches your knuckle area. The picture below is the water level for cooking regular rice. For Joomukbap or Kimbap, the water level should be a little lower – about 1/2 inch below the knuckle.

measuring water level for rice

using hand to measure water level for rice

2. While the rice is cooking, prepare any one or more of the filling(s) or seasonings below:

i. Seasoned ground beef – Cook 3 oz of ground beef in a pan with 2 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of mirin (rice wine), 1/2 tsp of garlic powder (or fresh chopped garlic), sprinkling of black pepper and toasted sesame seeds. Stir fry while breaking up the beef to ensure even cooking and seasoning. Beef can be cooked the night before and kept outside for next morning. To keep it over a day, keep it in the fridge but be sure to heat it up in a pan before you use it.

ii. Spam – Cut spam  into 1/2 in thick slice and then into strips or squares depending on the size of your rice triangle.  Fry and brown spam in the pan while sprinkling about 1/4 tsp of soy sauce and Korean chili powder(gochoogaroo) per each slice (makes up about 1/3 C). Unfortunately, spam doesn’t do too well when kept overnight so it’s best to cook it fresh when you are making the Joomukbap.

spam cooked in soy sauce, chili powder

spam cooked in soy sauce, chili powder

iii. Tuna with Mayo – Mix 4 tsp of Mayonnaise with 1/2 can of 6.5 oz canned Tuna meat. Sprinkle some black pepper. Tuna (just like tuna salad) can be made ahead and kept in fridge to be used straight as the filling.

Tuna with Mayo

Tuna with Mayo

iv. American Processed Cheese – strange as this may sound, processed cheese goes really well with rice so try it! Just cut it into pieces and put inside the rice.

american processed cheese

american processed cheese

2.When rice is cooked, cool the rice by spreading it out on a plate. Rice should not be too hot when making Joomukbap. While the rice cools, season rice by sprinkling 1 T sesame oil and 1 tsp salt. Use good quality sea salt if you can. Mix gently with a spatula to season the rice. Do NOT mix the rice too much – I made this mistake once and the rice just got too sticky :(…Taste the rice and adjust seasoning.

cooling rice

rice cooling on plate

3. There are basically two kinds of Joomukbap. One kind has fillings such as spam, cheese, tuna and beef inside. The other kind is when the rice is seasoned overall and then shaped into a ball.

To make Joomukbap with fillings, wear plastic gloves (this stops the rice from sticking to your hands) and pick up a handful of rice and shape it into a triangle. Then make a well in the center and put your filling in.

Prepare rice for filling

Prepare rice ball for filling

Joomukbap with spam

Joomukbap with spam

Cover the filling with more rice and form it into a triangle as shown below:

Riceball with filling inside

Rice triangle with filling inside

Now you can coat the Joomukbap with a strip of seaweed. You can use a strip of  roasted seaweed (Chosun Kim 조선김) or unroasted seaweed for Kimbap (Kimbap Kim김밥김 or Nori for Sushi) and wrap it around the middle part of the rice triangle.

Kim(Seaweed) cut in strips

Kim(Seaweed) cut in strips

To make Joomukbap without fillings, you can use one of the seasonings below:

i) CJ Rice Seasoning Babirang – Mix Babirang with rice and form the rice into a triangle. There are many furikake type of rice seasonings available but so far, this is my favorite. Buy the vegetable (야채)  flavor. There are other flavors but they are not as good.

CJ Babirang

CJ Babirang

CJ Babirang on rice

CJ Babirang on rice

ii) Seasoned Ground Beef – Instead of putting the beef as a filling, you can also mix in with the rice.


There are other variations – sauteed mushrooms in soy sauce, cut up pickled radish(단무지 Dahnmooji), and much more.. but this blog is getting too long as it is so I think I will save that for next time. Enjoy!


Would LOVE to hear from you!