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Vegan Jumeokbap Korean Rice Balls 3 Ways

Make your next lunch box or picnic extra special with these Jumeokbap three ways! These Korean rice balls are the perfect grab & go meal and I made three flavors - filled with chickpea "chuna" mash, coated in teriyaki nori, and my personal fave, kimchi vegan cheese!
One common confusion would be, what's the difference between Jumeokbap and Onigiri? Jumeokbap and onigiri are both rice ball dishes, but they come from different culinary traditions and have some differences in their preparation and ingredients.

Jumeokbap is a Korean rice ball dish, you can usually find the various ingredients such as vegetables, meat, or seafood mixed IN the rice, and then shaped into balls, sometimes with fillings, sometimes without. 
Onigiri, on the other hand, is a Japanese dish that consists of cooked short-grain rice that is shaped into a triangle or oval shape and often has a filling such as salmon, pickled plum, or tuna. The rice is usually seasoned with salt and wrapped with a sheet of nori seaweed.
I love both dearly and have made variations of both a lot. These three types of jumeokbap in this recipe are my recent go-to lunch.

Regarding types of rice, short grain white rice is your best bet when it comes to making rice balls. I do not recommend brown rice, long grain rice, wild rice, or grains like quinoa because none of them are "sticky" and they simply won't hold together, they will just fall apart like sand.
However, if you really want to incorporate some other types of grains, you can mix some with the short grain white rice.

INGREDIENTS:

Base rice mixture - 
2 cup cooked short grain white rice
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
2 teaspoon toasted white sesame seed
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1-2 teaspoon sesame oil
Cooking oil
Optional, crispy seaweed for coating

Chuna filling -
1 can chickpea, drained
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoon homemade vegan mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoon crushed crispy seaweed

Kimchi cheese -
1/3 cup chopped kimchi
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese, or as much or as little as you want

TO MAKE:

- Saute the carrots and cucumber with a drizzle of oil in a pan until just soft;
- Mix the sauteed vegetables, cooked rice, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds together, cut and fold to mix everything evenly;
- Make the chuna filling but mashing the chickpeas, then fold in the rest of the ingredients:
- Take about 1/4 cup of the rice mixture, press firmly with your hands, and poke a dent in the center;
- Add fillings to the dent you created, then add more rice mixture to cover the fillings;
- Press again with your hands, as firmly as you can, to enclose the fillings and shape the rice balls, set aside;
- Repeat this process until you use up about 2/3 of all the rice mixture, I crushed some teriyaki crispy seaweed and coated half of the chickpea-filled rice balls with it;
- To make the kimchi cheese flavor, in pan, add a small drizzle of oil, saute the kimchi until slightly caramelized;
- Add in the vegan cheese, cook until they are all melted nicely;
- Add the kimchi cheese mixture into the remaining rice mixture, mix well, and shape into balls;
- Serve warm or chilled, enjoy!


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