Recipe: Jumeokbap

BY: Sandra Violet Clark

Jumeokbap, translated as “fist rice,” is a classic snack or easy meal in Korea.

They’re little fist (or smaller) sized balls of rice mixed with a variety of fillings. Tuna is a favorite flavor and easy way to use canned tuna in a fun, tasty way in this tweak on the rice ball favorite. The addition of greens is my way to boost the nutrition and flavor. I’ve taught these to kids and adults alike in cooking classes and they are a hit and make a fantastic packable lunch. 

Favorite sources: Check out Kim’s Asian Mart on 4th Street for an amazing selection of mix-ins and other Asian staples (the soy sauce options! the kimchi!). Vue Farms at the Davis Farmers Market has the freshest and most diverse variety of Asian greens in town. I especially love the mild and delicious sweet potato greens that are hard to find elsewhere.

30-Second Cooking Lesson: Neutral oils are not created equal (and avocado is my favorite one).

A good rule of thumb for picking out a healthy neutral oil is to choose something that is naturally oily when you smash it; like nuts and seeds. Other things like corn require a LOT more processing to create the oil you see on the shelf. Canola and vegetable oil have a fraught history and I opt otherwise when I can. Great options include sunflower, safflower, peanut, and even grapeseed oil. Avocado oil is newer on the scene. It has a rich, almost creamy quality and high smoke point, so it’s delicious for all cooking and no-heat dishes.  Like olive oil, its unsaturated among the healthiest fats available. It’s a wonderful, nearly neutral oil (the buttery avocado taste is still detectable to me). You can buy a big bottle from Costco or Trader Joe’s at a great price. It’s become a staple in my kitchen.


25 minutes
Serves 4

1 tbsp. neutral oil
½ cup chopped greens (bok choy, sweet potato greens, kale, spinach, etc.)
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 c. cooked rice (white or brown)
1 (4 oz. or ½ cup) can tuna 
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. hot sauce or to taste

  1. Warm oil to medium high heat. Add greens, smashed whole garlic clove, sea salt and cook to wilt, about 1-5 minutes depending on the firmness of greens. Turn off stove, add sesame seeds and allow flavors to combine and cool for 5 minutes. 
  2. While skillet cools, drain tuna. In a medium-bowl, combine drained tuna with mayonnaise, and rice. Remove garlic and discard and add the skillet mix of oil, greens, sesame seeds to the tuna-rice mix. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking with soy and hot sauces. 
  3. Using damp hands, scoop and shape the mix into balls. Alternatively, you can pack the mix firmly into a container and flip to mold the rice instead. Cover and refrigerate, or serve immediately.

Bonus Points: 

SWAP canned tuna for ½ cup cooked and seasoned vegetables, eggs, meat, tofu or kimchi. Or make a double batch and try multiple flavors. 
ADD up to a tablespoon citrus zest, crushed nori, minced pickled radish, dried fish, and/or chilies to boost the flavor to your liking. It’s a great way to play with odds and ends and condiments. Boost nutrition by using a vegetable or meat broth in place of the water when cooking rice.
ONIGIRI (Japanese Rice Balls) keep the  rice and fillings separate. Shape the rice into a cup then fill with tuna mix, cinch rice up around to seal and a bit more rice on top to encase.  Fold a strip of nori from one side and up the other make a handhold to finish. 

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