Almost instant Riceball(주먹밥 Joomukbap)

Joomukbap using TJ's Onigiri
Joomukbap using TJ’s Onigiri

This is the quickest and easiest way to make Joomukbap if you don’t have the time or don’t want to get into making the rice, etc.  My trick is to use Trader Joe’s frozen Yaki Onigiri (Baked Japanese Rice Triangle)! I posted the full recipe of the Korean Samgak Joomukbap recently so if you want to make some authentic Korean Joomukbap, please refer to my previous post. But I’m sure you will agree that in reality we are always short on time in the morning! I have to confess, I ended up making this version for my daughter quite a few times or maybe more than a “few times”… ;)

Now, if you have the fillings already made, it takes only about 5 min. Even if you don’t have the fillings made, you can still choose some of the quicker options such as Spam and Tuna with Mayo (refer to my Samgak Joomukbap posting)  and make Joomukbap in 10 min or less. So always have this as a backup in your freezer for desperate times when you didn’t get to prepare the rice in advance or if you just got up too late in the morning.

So hopefully you have a Trader Joe’s store nearby – here’s what the package looks like and you should find it in the frozen section.


Trader Joe's Onigiri
Trader Joe’s Onigiri

1. Follow the package instructions and defrost the rice triangle pieces in the microwave. If you don’t already have the fillings made, follow the instructions on my previous Joomukbap post and make the fillings.

2. When the rice pieces are warmed up, make a hole in the middle and put the fillings in.

Joomukbap with ground beef(left) and spam(right)
Joomukbap with ground beef(left) and spam(right)

3. Cut up some pieces of Kimbap Kim (Seaweed/Nori) and wrap the rice pieces or spread shredded Kim on the outside. Or you can also coat with Babiran seasonings or other Furikake type flakes.

cut up Kimbap Kim(Nori)
cut up Kimbap Kim(Nori)

4. When you pack the rice pieces for lunch, individually wrap them in plastic wrap. This keeps them moist and also easy to eat.

Some additional filling ideas: Myulchi Bokkeum(멸치볶음), Artificial Crabmeat in Mayo(오양맛살), Shitake Mushrooms stir fried in soy sauce, mirin and sugar.

Different kinds of Joomukbap

Enjoy your lunch!

Korean Rice Triangles(삼각주먹밥 Samgak Joomukbap)

Korean Riceballs
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!