Monday, May 10, 2010
Could Korean Rice Balls be the next Pinkberry?
Most certainly not. For one thing, Pinkberry's popularity seems to be waning. Also, I love a rice ball as much as the next Famima addict, but these Korean fillings in rice balls are just ok. So why am I reviewing them? Because of their novelty. I usually can't get enough of these rice and seaweed snacks often filled with goodies like tuna mayo or kombu seaweed that’s been cooked in a soy sauce-based sauce until tender and salty.
The ones I recently found at a Korean market were filled with spicy beef, Korean BBQ and kimchi BBQ. The products were dubbed "triangular kimbab," named after the Korean-style seaweed rolls usually filled with beef, egg, carrot and spinach (another snack/meal I absolutely love). Ok, the flavors weren't all that, unfortunately, but they're acceptable if you were to crave some kick. The spicy beef and kimchi BBQ were both plenty spicy if not particularly memorable.
The Korean BBQ filling was just ground beef that had been purportedly marinated in Korean BBQ sauce but it tasted pretty bland and quality of the beef wasn't great. Just a hint of saltiness and sweetness without much flavor.
There is a careful method to assembling this great invention without touching the seaweed with your hands for hygienic reasons.
These things also keep pretty well so I usually don't refrigerate them and that way, avoid tough, cold rice and filling. They don't microwave well either so it's best to eat them before having to throw them in the fridge.
I'm pretty sure Koreans traditionally served rice balls without seaweed but I could be wrong. My memories of rice balls were literally spheres (not triangular) stuffed with ground beef and some finely minced carrots and such, with rice that had been flavored with salt, sesame seeds and a hint of sesame oil.
Somebody needs to come up with better alternatives to these babies, especially for those who don't have Famima at their door step or want something more than just tuna mayo as their filling.