I am calling these Korean rice rolls “sushi” because at first glance, they do resemble the Japanese rolls that Westerners associate with sushi. But kimbap (or gimbap) is not considered fine or fancy fare in Korea, it's actually picnic and snack food that you eat with your hands. Traditional fillings include seasoned vegetables, egg, meat and/or imitation crab, but these days anything goes. From Seoul to NYC, fillings range from cheesy to spicy to fresh. Kimbap is like the Korean version of a sandwich- you can change the filling to fit any diet, palate, or occasion.
Kim or gim means dried seaweed in Korean, and bap or bop means rice. Chamchi (tuna in Korean) is filled with tuna and other vegetables, kimchi kimbap features kimchi as one of its stars, Chungmu kimbap is a rice-only roll from the city of Chungmu in Korea.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Dried seaweed (nori)- 4 sheets
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp salt
- TRADITIONAL FILLINGS
- 1 carrot, julienned
- cucumber, cut into long strips
- 2 eggs
- beef (bulgogi)
- 1/2 pound of spinach, parboiled
- pickled radish, cut into strips
- imitation crab (optional)
- fishcake (optional)
- ALTERNATE POPULAR FILLING SUGGESTIONS:
- smoked salmon and cream cheese
- kimchi and cheese
- spam, mayo, and veggies
- ham and cheese
- tuna salad with romaine lettuce and cheese
- fresh or seasoned vegetables for vegetarians
- When rice is almost cooled, mix with sesame oil and salt.
- Stir fry carrots briefly with a dash of salt.
- Stir fry cucumber with a dash of salt.
- Whisk eggs until evenly yellow and fry into flat omelet.
- Cut cooked egg into long strips.
- Cook bulgogi according to recipe directions.
- Using a bamboo sushi roller or a piece of tin foil, lay the dried seaweed shiny side down.
- Spread about ½ cup of rice onto 2/3 of the seaweed, leaving the top 1/3 bare (if you moisten your fingers or a spoon to pat down the rice, you'll get less of a sticky mess).
- Lay the first ingredient down around 1/3 of the way up from the bottom of the seaweed.
- Lay the other fillings down on top.
- Roll from the bottom (as if you're rolling a sleeping bag), pressing down to make the fillings stay in.
- As you continue to roll, pull the whole thing down towards the end of the bamboo mat.
- Spread a tiny dab of water along the top seam to hold the roll together.
- Set aside and continue with other seaweed sheets.
- Cut each roll into 7-8 pieces.
* In the photo here, I cut the seaweed in half to make bite-size rolls for my children.