10 Triangle kimbap and Onigiri Fillings

10 Triangle Kimbap and Onigiri Fillings: Emily Recommends (XVII)

For this ‘Emily Recommends’ series, we will take a look at different triangle kimap and onigiri fillings. If you want to check out past series posts, look at our 15 Korean Street Food Recipes and our 10 Rice Bowl Recipes.

Onigiri, also known as omusubi or rice balls, is a Japanese simple meal made from white short-grained rice formed into a triangular shape. Often, it is then wrapped in nori (the Japanese word for seaweed). 

On the other hand, triangle kimbap is the South Korean equivalent made using a mold to shape fillings and rice into a triangle which is then wrapped in kim (the Korean word for seaweed). The Korean version is based on Japanese onigiri which was introduced to South Korea in the 1990s. 

While the basic premise is the same, the fillings are very different and lean on the typical flavors of each culture. In this week’s ‘Emily Recommends’ series, we decided to introduce some different triangle kimbap and onigiri fillings! 

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Onigiri Fillings

First, before we start, if you want to learn how to make and form a rice ball, I recommend checking out the blog No Recipes. Marc, the author, has an in-depth explanation of how to mold the rice and recommendations for a few different onigiri fillings. 

1. Sake Onigiri

The sake version of rice balls usually refers to onigiri with a particular style of salmon prepared with salt and Japanese sake. The word for this style of salted salmon is ‘shiozake’ or ‘shiojake’. In Japan, they eat shiozake on its own as a filet or mixed with other ingredients to make another dish such as fried rice or rice porridge. 

Sake onigiri happens to be one of the most popular versions available in Japan. The salty and fishy flavor of the salmon acts as one of the most perfect onigiri fillings. The Japanese typically crumple up the shiozake salmon into little pieces and add them to the rice. Once added, they form the mixture into a rice ball shape. 

Shihoko, who runs the blog Chopstick Chronicles, has a wonderful recipe. You can find her recipes for shiozake and sake onigiri via the links below. Also, we added a link to the home page of her website. 

A shot of salmon 'sake' onigiri. Salmon inside rice with a seaweed sheet attached.
Photo Credit: Chopstick Chronicles
Salmon Is One of the Most Popular Onigiri Fillings!

2. Miso Yaki Onigiri 

Yaki onigiri refers to rice balls that are grilled. Yaki means ‘grilled’ in Japanese. While there are many different types of yaki onigiri, the miso version is a favorite amongst the Japanese population! 

For those outside of Japan, miso seems to be well known because of miso soup in Japanese and sushi restaurants. In Japan, the use of miso expands much further than just soup. Proof is with these miso yaki onigiri’s. 

While many onigiri have the extra ‘special’ flavoring added into the rice as a filling, the miso flavoring is added on the outside of the yaki onigiri to add a caramelized flavor. To make miso yaki onigiri, you must brush the miso mixture onto the rice ball before grilling in a pan.

In the end, we recommend looking at Nami’s recipe from her blog Just One Cookbook! She gives detailed step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the rice ball and the miso! Finally, you can find her recipe and website via the links below! 

An overhead shot of grilled miso yaki onigiri on a black plate. Yaki onigiri fillings are on the outside of the rice ball.
Photo Credit: Just One Cookbook
Miso Yaki Onigiri!

3. Mentaiko Mayo Yaki Onigiri

Mentaiko refers to Japanese marinated pollock or cod roe. Typically, you can find mentaiko in the refrigerator or freezer at an Asian grocery store (H-mart is a good example). To prepare mentaiko, you must remove the roe from the protective skin. Then, you can combine the mayonnaise with the roe to make a delicious paste! 

Once again, the Chopstick Chronicles has a delicious version of this onigiri. Mentaiko Mayo makes a uniquely flavored yaki onigiri. We hope you enjoy this style of onigiri filling! Lastly, we linked the recipe below.

A side shot of mentaiko mayo yaki onigiri. The dish roe top the rice ball.
Photo Credit: Chopstick Chronicles
Mentaiko Mayo Yaki Onigiri.

4. Plum Onigiri

Probably one of the most popular and traditional onigiri fillings in Japan would be pickled plum. 

The word for pickled plum in Japanese is umeboshi. In Japan, umeboshi is a traditional condiment often eaten with a bowl of rice. 

When making onigiri, the Japanese often chop up the umeboshi and add it into the rice. Once added, they form triangular rice ball shapes with their hands before serving to eat. Onigiri tastes the best when eaten on a picnic. Who wouldn’t you want to eat a perfectly shaped plum onigiri on a nice spring day?! 

You can find a recipe for plum onigiri on Nami’s website Just One Cookbook. Finally, find the links below!   

Side shot of plum (umeboshi) onigiri. The onigiri sit on a blue/green plate. Tiny slices of pickled plum are mixed in with the rice to make this plum onigiri filling.
Photo Credit: Just One Cookbook
Plum (Umeboshi) Onigiri

5. Tenmusu Onigiri

When the Japanese say ‘tenmusu’, they are using a shorthand word for a rice ball with deep-fried shrimp tempura as the filling. The word tenmusu comes from two words: ‘tempura’ and ‘omusubi’. The tempura refers to the deep-fried shrimp while the omusubi refers to the rice ball. 

For this type of onigiri, you start by frying battered shrimp. Once you fry the shrimp in oil and let it slightly cool, you place it inside the rice and form it into a ball. Typically, you place seaweed around the rice for this type of onigiri. 

We recommend checking out Nami’s recipe from her blog Just One Cookbook for this recipe. You can find the links for her website and recipe below! 

A side shot of tenmusu onigiri on an oval plate. The fried shrimp onigiri fillings stick out the top and seaweed wraps around the rice.
Photo Credit: Just One Cookbook
Tenmusu Onigiri

Do You Have Favorite Onigiri Fillings?

We hope you enjoyed the list of onigiri fillings we offered above! In the end, do you have a favorite? 

If you would like further fillings, make sure to check out Nami’s blog Just One Cookbook and Shihoko’s blog Chopstick Chronicles! After all, they have the largest database of different onigiri filling recipes by far! 

Next, let’s look at different Korean triangle kimbap fillings! 

Triangle Kimbap Fillings

Like we stated above, triangle kimbap developed from Japanese onigiri. Even so, much of their triangle kimbap fillings come from pre-existing Korean flavors and dishes they had already developed. Let’s look at some typical Korean triangle kimbap fillings!  

6. Tuna Kimchi Triangle Kimbap (Chamchi) 

Online and in South Korea, tuna kimchi triangle kimbap probably rules as the most common version available. Koreans readily use both ingredients in much of their cooking. For example, check out Korean tuna mayo rice for a quick tuna based Korean lunch!

To make the filling, you fry up equal parts kimchi with canned tuna. Really, it is that simple! If your kimchi is too sour, add a bit of sugar. If the kimchi doesn’t have enough spice, add a bit of gochugaru. Finally, you can find our recipe and triangle kimbap instructions via the link below! 

Triangle kimbap lined up on a wooden tray.
Photo Credit: Carving A Journey
Triangle Kimbap

7. Spicy Pork Stir Fry Filling

The Korean population often enjoys a spicy kick to their food–triangle kimbap is no exception. Spicy flavors are very unique to Korean rice balls as the Japanese do not often enjoy extreme spice levels in their food. 

For this recipe, I recommend checking out the Youtube channel Aeri’s Kitchen. She gives you step-by-step video instructions on how to make the triangle kimbap filling and how to shape the kimbap! 

Youtube Credit: Aeri’s Kitchen
Spicy Pork Stir Fry Triangle Kimbap!

8. Tuna Mayo Filling 

While Koreans enjoy tuna mixed with kimchi for triangle kimbap, they also enjoy tuna mixed with mayonnaise. This version of triangle kimbap tastes the most similar with certain flavors of Japanese onigiri! 

Like the tuna kimchi triangle kimbap, tuna mayo takes very little effort or time to make. You just need to add some canned tuna together with some mayonnaise! Depending on your preferences, you can also add some salt, pepper, and/or sugar! 

In this case, we recommend checking out JinJoo’s recipe on her blog Kimchimari. For her blog post, she actually has a few different fillings you can try out! Also, she made hers without the dried seaweed exterior. So, if you want the dried seaweed, you can look at our post to learn how to fold the seaweed.

A photo of three triangle shaped rice balls--each ball has a different flavoring. Once has seaweed, one has carrots, and one has beef.
Photo Credit: Kimchimari
Triangle Shaped Korean Rice Balls.

9. Bulgogi Filling

In Korea, bulgogi is also a very popular filling. Typically, when making kimbap at home, people use leftover bulgogi from a past meal. They do not make bulgogi just for traditional or triangle kimbap. 

We recommend trying to make bulgogi for dinner and then use the leftovers as fillings for your triangle kimbap! When adding bulgogi to triangle kimbap, remember to remove any excess liquid. Your triangle kimbap may fall apart if you have any liquid from the bulgogi. 

In this case, we recommend checking out Sue’s bulgogi recipe from My Korean Kitchen. Once made, you can easily add it to your triangle kimbap. Finally, learn how to fold triangle kimbap via our post!

A white plate filled with Korean bulgogi. Kimchi and lettuce are served on the side.
Photo Credit: My Korean Kitchen
Bulgogi–Perfect Filling for Triangle Kimbap!

10. Spam 

Koreans also enjoy adding spam to their triangle kimbap. In this case, you do not need a recipe because it is so simple! Start by slicing spam into thin pieces. Then, pan fry the spam until both sides get golden brown. Finally, chop the spam up into tiny pieces.

You then add the spam onto the center of your rice and form your triangle kimbap. This version takes very little time to make and acts as the perfect meal to eat while at your desk. For a further variation, fry up some minced kimchi with the spam! 

Do You Have a Favorite Triangle Kimbap Filling? 

Triangle kimbap typically uses simple and cheap ingredients. These meal replacements can be found at convenience stores all across South Korea! Do you have a favorite filling?

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We Hope You Enjoy Eating These Triangle Kimbap and Onigiri Fillings!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com. We love hearing from you! We hope you enjoyed learning all about different triangle kimbap and onigiri fillings! Also, if you would like a further article about Korean and Japanese food, try check out our article, ‘Kimbap vs Sushi: What Is the Difference?’

Finally, we also love hearing from you through our social media! You can follow us at @carvingajourney on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. In the end, if you like articles like these, you can subscribe to our blog by joining our mailing list.

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