So what does Kimbap – Seaweed Rice Roll remind me of? Picnics (소풍 sopung)!!! School picnic was probably my most favorite day of all my school days when I was little. When it was time for school picnic, I could hardly sleep the night before because I was so excited. Now, mind you, the excitement had nothing to do with any of the fun(?) games that were played at these picnics. Actually, I hated the games because I was terrible at them and I was always the slowest. I usually came in last for every race or game. But just the thought of sitting under a tree with all my friends and eating all the yummy foods was exciting enough to keep me awake.
Kimbap (김밥) or Gimbap, Yubu chobap(유부초밥), myeolchi bokkeum ( 멸치볶음) and jangjorim (장조림) were all.. oh so perfect.. for picnics. But now that I think about it, I liked my brother’s picnics even BETTER because then I could just go with mom, eat Kimbap for lunch, relax and do nothing else. No stressing out about having to play games which was a must at my own school picnic. Drop the Handkerchief (손수건 돌리기 sohnsugeon dolighee) was one game we ALWAYS played and I HATED IT!!! I was always the slowest runner in the class… I was never any good at these games and often times, when I lost, they made me sing in front of the class which was simply mortifying. Wow.. this brings back memories..
Enough..Let’s get back to Kimbap! So some people think Kimbap or Gimbap is Korean version of a sushi roll because it uses the same bamboo mat and looks similar to sushi. But there are records in the history books from Chosun dynasty (which is before Japan’s invasion of Korea) that mention wrapping rice with Korean gim/kim. I guess no one can say for sure. The ingredient that goes into Kimbap totally varies from family to family but I’d say there are 3 most common versions that I ate throughout my childhood.
- our family version: ground beef + spinach + carrots + egg + danmuji
- burdock root version: ground beef + burdock root + carrots + cucumber + egg + danmuji
- quick and instant version: ham/fish cake+ carrot + cucumber + egg + danmuji
I like version 1 and 2. I don’t like 3 because it uses instant meat and also it just does not taste as good. Since then there are now so many new combinations – some that include pork bulgogi and even American cheese.
During my stay in Korea, my favorite Kimbap place was Kim seon saeng (김선생). It’s a franchise but they had one of the best kimbap and used organic ingredients, so it was even better. Recipe below has ingredients enough to make 2 kinds of kimbap. You can omit burdock root and cucumber OR omit spinach instead.
Servings 3 Cooking Time: 1 hr Difficulty: Moderate Ingredients
- 3 Cup short grain rice (uncooked)
- seasoning for rice
- 2~3 T rice vinegar
- 1 T + 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 bunch spinach
- 1/4~1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed sesame seeds
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 cucumber – optional
- 1 large carrot or (1 small orange and 1 small purple)
- 1 T oil
- 1 burdock root (우엉 wooeong) – optional
- 1 C water
- 2 T dark soy sauce (jinkanjang)
- 2 T sugar
- 1 T mirin or rice wine
- 3~4 eggs, salt
- 8 oz (250 g) ground beef
- 3 tsp dark soy sauce (jinkanjang)
- 1 T rice wine
- 1 T tsp sugar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 T chopped garlic
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1 pack pickled daikon radish (단무지 Dahnmuji)
- 6 sheets dried seaweed (김 gim, kheem) or nori sheets
- 1 bamboo rolling mat
- Wash rice and cook (use less water than usual to make drier rice).
- Wash, peel burdock root and cut into lengths of the kimbap/Sushi bamboo mat.
- Cut burdock into thin strips –
- In a pan, add burdock root and 1 C water and bring to boil. Lower to med heat and cook for 5 min.
- Add soy sauce, sugar and mirin to pan and simmer for 10 more min. or until the sauce has almost evaporated like below: Let it cool.
- Wash spinach, blanch them in salted water. Put blanched spinach in cold water to stop further cooking. Squeeze excess water from spinach and season with salt, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
- Julienne cucumbers and carrots. I used color carrots again 🙂 Purple and orange. They are yummy and good for you!
- Sauté carrots in oil and season with salt. Cool.
- Whisk eggs, season lightly with salt and pour eggs into oiled frying pan over medium low heat. Wait a couple min until the edges are cooked.
Fold both sides (1/3 width) into the center.
If this is too much trouble, you can also just use a smaller pan and make thicker round omelette without folding over. The reason for folding here is twofold :), one to make it into a rectangular shape and the other is to make it thicker.
- Once omelette has cooled down, cut into strips.
- By now, the rice should be cooked. Mix vinegar, sugar, salt and season the rice by mixing it altogether. Cool in a large bowl. Rice should not be hot when you make the kimbap.
- Season ground beef with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, wine and black pepper. Sauté until fully cooked.
- Open package of pickled radish – Dahnmuji (단무지) and drain the liquid. Gather all ingredients and now we are ready to make some gimbap!
- The hardest part about kimbap is making the roll. It will take a few tries to perfect it. Don’t be discouraged if it comes out too loose in the beginning or if you end up with lazy eyed kimbap (where the stuffing is off center! yikes! ). It won’t affect the taste. :)) So here’s how you make gimbap using bamboo rolling mat.
- Finish the kimbap by brushing the outside with sesame oil. It will keep the kimbap moist and shiny.
- Cut kimbap into 3/4 in (2 cm) thickness. Wipe your knife with water or sesame oil before cutting to keep your knife from getting too sticky. Repeat every few slices.
- Serve with some gochujang if you like things a little spicy. Kimbap will get dry quickly so keep covered until ready to serve.
Hope you can go for a picnic!!! Suggestions for serving/storage
- Serve with some miyeok kuk or miso soup
- Kimchi, myeolchi bokkeum, jangjorim all go great with Kimbap!
- Store leftover Kimbap in fridge and reheat (see my Hot Kimbap post)