This is your sign to make these easy kimchi rice balls filled with gooey, melty mozzarella cheese – Kimchi Cheese Onigiri!
While experimenting with my Kimchi Fried Rice Jumeok Bap, I had a lot of leftover kimchi fried rice. I also had a lot of leftover mozzarella cheese… so I attempted to make this! In my first attempt, I added mozzarella cheese in the middle of my Jumeok Bap. Due to the size, I wasn’t able to add enough cheese to have that all-important gooey-ness… so I made my ball bigger so it can hold more cheese. Science.
The initial shape was a boring round disc shape, but then I realise I could shape it into an onigiri shape… and ta-da, we got ourselves some kimchi cheese onigiri! I did a quick google search, and chanced upon this gorgeous recipe to reference from Doobydobap! In that recipe, the onigiri rice balls were grilled in the oven. I chose to pan fry mine instead since I find it a lot quicker and easier, since my pan would already be out. I also included instructions on how to bake this in the oven or air fryer below.
Why you will LOVE Kimchi Cheese Onigiri
- EASY to make: You need very few ingredients to make this, and it comes together very quickly!
- Easy to keep!: Make a batch, and store in the fridge! This keeps surprisingly well for those emergency snack times.
- Kimchi + Cheese = PERFECTION: Spicy and tangy kimchi against the creamy flavour of the cheese… how do you say no to this addictive flavour combo?
Ingredients for Kimchi Cheese Onigiri
You can follow the kimchi fried rice recipe I made for my Jumeok Bap, but I modified this recipe slightly. I added garlic, and omitted spring onions since I find it gets overcooked when pan-frying or grilling the onigiri later on. I also made the mixture and combined it to my rice, instead of making kimchi fried rice in the pan. I find it helps to combine the rice with the kimchi mixture much easier and better.
- Cooked sushi rice: Sushi rice or short grain rice will hold its shape better than long-grains.
- Kimchi, chopped
- Shredded mozzarella cheese: you can use any cheese of choice, but mozzarella is the go-to here for its mild flavour and creaminess! Of course, that pull-factor helps the aesthetics too.
- Light Soy Sauce
- Gochujang: This adds some salt and umami to the fried rice.
- Honey: I love using this for sweetness, you can sub with sugar.
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
How to Make Kimchi Cheese Onigiri
1. Make Kimchi Rice
Stir fry some kimchi first, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the seasoning ingredients, and combine with the kimchi to create a saucy kimchi mixture. Turn off heat, and allow to cool slightly before adding to rice. Add sesame oil and sesame seeds, and stir to combine evenly.
2. Make Onigiri!
To make the onigiri, grab a palm-ful of rice and shape it flat on palms. I recommend wearing gloves for easier handling of rice, otherwise, have a bowl of water on hand to lightly wet hands so rice do not stick on hands.
Grab about a tablespoon of mozzarella cheese, and place it in the middle of the rice. You might be tempted to, but do not add too much cheese! You might not be able to close the onigiri tight if there is too much filling.
Grab another palmful of rice, and place it over the cheese. Carefully mould the rice close, covering the cheese. I like to shape it into a ball first, before lightly flattening it. This makes it easier to shape into the onigiri shape.
3. Pan Fry the Onigiri
Heat some oil in a pan, and once hot, turn the heat down to low! Gently place the onigiri in the pan, and let it heat up for 4 minutes, before *gently flipping over to the other side and allow to heat for another 4 minutes.
or Bake the Onigiri in the oven or air-fryer
Preheat oven or air fryer at 200°C/400°F. Bake onigiri for 15 minutes. Use the broil setting if available, to get a nice char on the onigiri.
More Recipes Like This:
Kimchi Cheese OnigiriCourse: Recipes
2 cups cooked sushi rice
1/2 cup kimchi, chopped
1 tsp gochujang
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
oil, for frying
- Add oil to a pan and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add kimchi and stir fry until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add gochujang, soy sauce, honey and stir to combine with the kimchi. Once you get a saucy kimchi, turn off the heat and let cool slightly.
- Add kimchi mixture to cooked rice, and top with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Stir to combine evenly.
- Grab about 2 tablespoons of rice, or a palmful, and place in the middle of one hand. Lightly press and cup it to form a well.
- Take 1 tablespoon of cheese and place in the middle of the rice.
- Take another palmful of rice, and place over the cheese. Then shape the rice into a ball, making sure that no cheese is spilling out.
- Lightly flatten rice ball into a disc shape, before shaping it into the onigiri shape.
- Heat some oil in the pan – you can use the same pan used to cook the kimchi mixture. Once hot and over low heat, place the onigiri and heat for 4-5 minutes. Flip over to the other side, and allow to heat for another 4-5 minutes. There should be a nice char on each side of the onigiri.
- Take off the pan, and serve immediately!