Having some leftover rice and a few other ingredients that needed to be used up led to this recipe called jumuk bab, literally translated as “fist rice.” Fist rice? Funny name I know, but there is a simple explanation behind the name. It comes from humble beginnings when Korea didn’t have the luxury to make fancy snacks and meals, but instead focused on providing basic sustenance for people. These days, however, when families have remaining rice and whatnot ingredients available to them, people would just form them into balls using their hands for easy, convenient travel food or lunchbox additions. As for me, I didn’t make these guys as a snack or anything, but instead was given the task of making another side dish for our guest the other night. And with most of my recipes, I gave the recipe a little twist by foregoing the simple hand-rolled version and adding something that Koreans really like—Spam. I am not a Spam fan (tongue twister, anyone?) personally, but the saltiness of the Spam pieces contrasted nicely with the unseasoned rice balls, and even better, they were well-received by the taste testers.
Jumukbab is great for picnics or anytime you need something on the go. It doesn’t take very long to make, and depending on what ingredients you have available, you can mix n match to your liking. In many ways, this is the ugly version of Korea’s more popular finger food kimbab (rice rolled in seaweed) albeit you can purchase the latter ones at restaurants.
“There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves.” ~Thomas Wolfe
Servings: 2 people
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 4 cups of cooked rice
- 6 slices of ham
- 1/2 carrot, finely diced
- 1/2 cup red cabbage, finely diced
- 3 rolls seaweed sheets, cut into thin strips
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- salt to taste
- Finely dice the veggies, set aside. Sauteing the diced vegetables is optional for those wanting a softer texture to the rice balls.
- Heat a non-stick fry pan or skillet over medium heat and add a small amount of oil. After cutting Spam into thin pieces, cook them until browned, set aside on paper-towel lined tray.
- Make sure the cooked rice is set to cool at least several minutes before combining them in a mixing bowl. Once cooled, add the diced veggies, crushed seaweed and sesame oil to the mix and combine thoroughly. The rice can get really sticky, so running your fingers through water will help prevent sticking.
- To make the rice pieces, scoop up some rice and pack into the Spam container until filled tightly. Place a Spam piece on top of the rice and then set the container down backwards to remove the compressed rice. With a thin strip of seaweed, wrap it around the spam rice piece until secure. If you have a hard time getting the rice out of the container, rubbing some olive oil inside the can before adding the rice will help.
*Here are some other ingredients that suit jumukbab just as well: sautéed kimchi, ground pork, paprika, corn, peas, any type of bean varieties, and Japanese rice flavoring packets. Go crazy and mix n match ingredients to your liking!