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Gojuchang Glazed Kimchi Cheese Rice Balls aka Yaki Onigiri

These Yaki Onigiri, aka grilled rice balls, are the perfect love child between Korean food and Japanese food. They are like kimchi fried rice stuffed with melty vegan cheese, pan-grilled till golden brown and crispy, then glazed with a sweet and spicy Gochujang sauce, they are quite literally a flavor bomb that delivers layers of different textures and tastes.

When is 1 plus 1 greater than 2? When you combine the best Korean flavors - Gochujang and Kimchi and the iconic Japanese snacks - Yaki Onigiri. You've probably had or seen Yaki Onigiri at Izakaya restaurants, aromatic, earthy rice balls grilled to form a golden crispy crust, then glazed with a sweet and savory soy sauce mixture, they are a fabulous little snack to have with a few drinks. I also love them for a picnic or lunch box as they are so convenient to eat.

Traditionally, Yaki Onigiri is often made plain, without any stuffing, but sometimes can be stuffed with pickled plum, kombu, salmon, etc. For this fusion version with a Korean twist, I mixed some sauteed kimchi in the rice to add more flavor and some juicy bite and then stuffed them with shredded vegan cheese, which will melt during the grilling process.

And finally, instead of a soy sauce glaze, I used a Gochujang glaze to really highlight that sweet, spicy, and sticky flavor combo. To say they are finger-licking good would be, well, dead on accurate ;)

Watch the video below for a little ASMR food porn and if you have any questions or recipe requests, come find me on Instagram and Tiktok



INGREDIENTS:

2 cup cooked short grain white rice

1 cup napa cabbage kimchi

4 tablespoon shredded vegan cheese

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon gochujang paste

1 teaspoon golden syrup

2 nori strips


For the glaze -

1 teaspoon gochujang paste

1 teaspoon golden syrup

2 teaspoon coconut amino


TO MAKE:

- Coarsely chop the kimchi, then transfer to a food processor, pulse a few times till they're broken apart into small pieces, do not blend;

- In a nonstick pan, heat the sesame oil, fry off the garlic for 1 minute till aromatic, then add the kimchi, stir and cook till most liquid is gone;

- Meanwhile, mix together the gochujang, soy sauce, and golden syrup, pour the mixture into the kimchi pan, mix well;

- Cook over low heat till the mixture is thickened and not much liquid left, if the kimchi mixture is too wet it will cause the rice balls to fall apart later;

- If you're making rice fresh, start working on it while it's still warm (don't burn your hands ofc!), DO NOT wait till it's completely cooled down, and if you're using leftover rice, make sure heat it up sufficiently first, working with cold rice is like trying to shape sand;

- Mix the kimchi with rice evenly, wet your hands to prevent sticking, then place a handful of rice onto your palm, press firmly into a ball;

- Flatten the ball with your other hand, and create an indentation in the middle, add about 2 tablespoon vegan cheese, cover with more rice, and press firmly again into a ball, apply some pressure here to make the rice balls sturdy, so they don't fall apart in the pan;

- Then use the curve between your thumb and index finger to shape the rice balls into triangles, you can also flatten them a little and just leave them round;

- Clean the nonstick pan you cooked kimchi in, heat another drizzle of oil over medium-high heat, place the rice balls in, let one side completely crisp up and become golden BEFORE you flip! Takes about 4 - 5 minutes for the first side;

- Once the bottom is golden crispy and sturdy, carefully flip and let the other side crisp up;

- Meanwhile mix together the glaze ingredients till smooth;

- When the second side is golden crispy, brush on some glaze on the top side, flip, and lower the heat to low, the glaze burns quite easily so you only need about 1 minute per side;

- Brush the glaze onto the other side, flip again, and cook for about 1 minute or so;

- So in total, we only flipped the rice balls THREE times, if you flip them too often they could easily fall apart;

- Wrap the nori strips onto the rice balls while they're still hot, serve immediately, enjoy!


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