Classic Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Roll)

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Classic Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Roll)

Kimbap, sometimes spelled gimbap, is rice, meat, usually beef, and vegetables rolled in seaweed and grilled.

As a kid, when we would take family road trips in our VW Hatchback, my mom would always put kimbap in a huge tupperware and put it in our old Igloo fridge, along with the Coke bottles.

We never stop at gas stations or restaurants to eat. We stopped at rest stops, filled our bellies with kimbap and a Coke, and were ready to go!

Unknown origins, delicious morsel

For centuries, Koreans rolled bap (Korean for "rice") and banchan (Korean side dishes) in gin (Korean for "dried seaweed" and sometimes spelled kim).

What goes inside the roll has always varied. It is the most colorful and delicious food.

Is this the origin of kimbap?

Or perhaps it evolved during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the first half of the 1900s, eventually becoming the version here considered to be classic kimbap.

Regardless of how kimbap came to be, it is one of the most popular Korean foods, often part of a traditional boxed lunch called a dosirak, a picnic, snack, or travel meal.

Classic Kimbap Ingredients

Kimbap uses sheets of toasted seaweed; the packaging is sometimes labeled as nori.

The rice is always seasoned with sesame oil, and popular filling ingredients include boiled carrots, cucumbers, hard-boiled egg strips, a protein such as steak or spam, and fresh or pickled vegetables such as danmuji.

It is a perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors. You won't even need sauce.

What is Danmuji?

Danmuji is a bright yellow pickled daikon radish. The pickle brine has rice vinegar, sugar, spices, and turmeric, for an iconic yellow color.

It is poured over sliced daikon, sticks or even left whole. This bright, sour-sweet pickle is popular as a banchan or as an ingredient in kimbap.

You can find danmuji in most Asian markets. I shop at my local Hmart.

It is marketed in refrigerated packages, whole, sliced or cut into long strips, suitable for kimbap.

Once opened, the remaining danmuji will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Transfer to an airtight container with the original brine and keep refrigerated.

How to make Korean spiced rice

To make kimbap rice, cook medium-grain rice as desired, but with a few tablespoons less water than you would otherwise.

My mom always did this so the rice would stick together but the individual grains would have a bit of flavor and texture.

While the cooked rice is still hot, drizzle with sesame oil and a little salt. Mix well so that the sesame oil coats the rice evenly.

Cover with a towel and let cool while you prepare the other ingredients.

How to cook rice on the stove

Tips for Making Kimbap

Once you learn how to do it, making kimbap is easy and fun.

Make sure you have all the fillings prepared and on hand before you begin.

Keep a small container of water nearby to wet your fingers.

This will prevent the rice from sticking to the spoon and to your hands. You will also need water to moisten the gin.

Use a bamboo or silicone mat to help you apply even pressure as you roll.

Take out the mat as it rolls so you don't accidentally wrap it in the kimbap! Not that he ever did. Is in!


Marinate the meat:

In a medium bowl, add steak, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and garlic.

Mix well and cover with plastic wrap. Let it marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.

Season the rice:

In a large bowl, add the freshly cooked rice, sesame oil, and salt.

Mix with a large spoon until the rice is evenly coated with the sesame oil. Let it cool.

Cook the spinach:

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large container with ice cold water and place it next to the stove.

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for about 15 seconds. Use tongs to transfer spinach to ice water to stop cooking.

Once cool, use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible.

Transfer to a medium bowl and add the sesame oil and salt. Arrange the seasoned spinach on a large plate.

Cook the carrots:

Heat a large skillet with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Sauté carrots for about 1 minute until slightly soft. It will not be soft and cooked.

Mix with a pinch of salt. Place the cooked carrots next to the spinach.

Cook the meat:

Place the same skillet you used to cook the carrots over medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.

Sauté the marinated meat until cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Place the cooked meat next to the spinach and carrots.

Assemble the kimbap:

You can place the danmuji strips on the same large plate with the fillings.

Fill a small bowl with water to wet your fingers.

Having all the ingredients ready and together will make putting together the kimbap much easier.

Place a gin leaf, shiny side down, on the treadmill.

Use your fingers to spread about 3/4 cup of rice evenly over the kelp, leaving about an inch of bare edge on top.

Lightly moisten your fingers with water to prevent the rice from sticking to them. Dip a finger into the water and lightly moisten the edge of the seaweed.

This will help seal it after rolling it up.

Add the fillings:

Place about one-sixth of the prepared carrots, spinach, meat, and danmuji in the center of the rice; they will be in a strip from left to right.

Wrap the kimbap:

Lift the end of the mat closest to you to fold the gin over the filling, squeezing gently and evenly.

Fold the filling in with your fingers and continue rolling and squeezing until you reach the end of the roll. Pull the end of the mat out and over the roller.

Press the moistened edge to seal it, seam side down.

Brush the outside of the roll with a little sesame oil.

Cut and serve the kimbap:

Roll up the remaining kimbap. The gin will become more flexible as it sets, making it easier to cut.

Use a sharp knife to cut the kimbap into 6-8 pieces. Serve at room temperature.

Kimbap is best served immediately after preparation.

In the unlikely event of leftovers, store in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer.

Let them come to room temperature before eating; otherwise the rice will be hard.

My mom used to dip leftover kimbap into the pajeon batter and fry it in oil like a treat!

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