Kimbap is a Korean dish made from steamed white rice and various other vegetable and/or meat ingredients rolled in a sheet seaweed paper. Japanese futomaki and sushi rolls share similar concepts, but they are different in that Kimbap does not use sushi rice (no vinegar) and that the ingredients are usually cooked (no raw fish).
Kimbap is considered to be one of the best fast foods available for anyone on-the-go or catering to outdoor events. There are restaurant franchise specializing in such Kimbap and can come in all forms and shapes. You can roll pretty much anything in Kimbap including Kimchi, tuna, and bulgogi, cheese and the list goes on. Growing up in Korea, Kimbap has been one of the classic “to-go” foods for all ages. If you grew up with Koreans, you will have most likely tried some form of Kimbap.
Key characteristics of successful Kimbap:
- Kimbap stays tight and stable, not falling off or seaweed paper peeling off.
- Yummy ingredients are nicely located in the center, not running away toward the edge.
- Each ingredient, including rice, is seasoned.
Serving Size: 2 people
Total Time: 30 minutes
2 cups of white rice
5 sheets of seaweed paper a.k.a. nori (kim 김)
1 bundle of spinach
5 sticks of imitation crab meat
5 strips of pickled daikon radish a.k.a. takuan (dahn-moo-jee 단무지)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of salt
Preparation / Cooking
Rice – Make steamed rice with less than normal amount of water (~95%) and keep it warm in the rice cooker until we’re ready to roll. While rice is cooking, make the rest of the ingredients ready.
Spinach – Blanch in boiling salt water for 10 seconds. Rinse with cold water and drain.
Carrot – Julienne thinly and stir-fry in hot pan with vegetable oil. Add 2 pinch of salt.
Egg – Beat eggs and season with 2 pinch of salt. Heat the pan, add vegetable oil and wipe out the excess oil from the pan with paper towel. Lower the heat and add the egg mixture to cover the whole pan. It’ll be easier to use a small pan to make the thick layer. Otherwise, carefully roll the egg layer from one end to the other end to make a thick layer.
Imitation crab meat – Grill on the pan for a couple of minutes.
Picked radish – Mine was already cut for Kimbap purpose, but if yours is not, cut it to long strips.
1. Transfer rice into a large bowl. Season with the sesame oil, salt and sesame seeds. Gently mix the rice to season evenly and also to let the steam out. Leave the rice to cool off for about 5-10 minutes. Rice should be warm but not steaming hot because the hot steam may break the seaweed paper.
2. Cover the bamboo mat with plastic wrap. I learned this from my mother, and it really helps!
3. Spread rice on the seaweed paper to fill about 2/3. According to your preference, spread rice thinly or thickly. Mine was relatively thin, about stacking 3 grains of rice.
4. Stack the ingredients in the lower part. Do not spread them around but put them tightly close to each other.
5. Start rolling slowly. Occasionally press and squeeze to keep the shape tight. Repeat the roll-press-roll-press process. When you reach toward the end, wet the edge of the seaweed paper to create “glue.”
6. Apply sesame oil on the surface. Cut Kimbap with very sharp knife (to me, Kimbap making day = knife sharpening day) and apply sesame oil to your knife blade. Make it 1/3-1/4 inch thick, or whatever fits your mouth – yummy yum.