Not going to lie: The first time I saw kimbap (gimbap) at a food fair, I mistakenly thought I was just looking at a wide sushi (or makimono) roll. When I ordered it, it tasted different—but in a good way. Cut to a few years later, I find out it’s a super common on-the-go meal for both kids and adults in Korea. A lot of the kimbap rolls you see probably have white, short grain rice, but many have tried making these with brown or multi-grain rice. There are also several recipes out there, all of which are delicious in their own right, but kimbap is typically seasoned with salt and sesame oil. If you’re just about to buy ingredients to make kimbap at home, go for thicker seaweed sheets; you’ll need this to hold the rice and other ingredients in place.
Another wonderful thing about this popular food is you can have fun with it. Technically, you can try any filling you want, but if you want a classic kimbap first, go for: yellow pickled radish, fish cake, carrots, spinach, eggs, and beef. I know, ang dami pala, no?
How to make kimbap: Beef Kimbap recipe
You can obviously use any type of beef you want, but this recipe by Korean Bapsang is one of the easiest, most comprehensive guides to follow if you’re attempting to make kimbap for the first time. It also allows you to adjust the flavor of your ingredients because her instructions are so specific.
- 2 cups uncooked short grain rice
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Salt, to taste
For the beef:
- 8 ounces of beef, cut into 1/2 inch-thick long strips
- 2 tsps soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice wine
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
For the vegetables:
- 8 ounces of spinach
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch thick long strips
- 5 yellow pickled radish strips, 1/2-inch thick
- Salt, to taste
For the fish cake:
- 1 sheet fish cake, cut into one-inch thick strips
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 eggs
- Freshly cooked rice is best when it comes to making kimbap. Cook yours in less water than usual.
- Prepare the beef. If you haven’t yet, cut it into strips that are about half an inch thick. Season it with the five ingredients: soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, and minced garlic. In a medium-sized pan, cook the beef in high heat for two to three minutes or until it looks ready.
- Next, get your spinach ready. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. At the same time, prepare iced water on the side. Briefly immerse your spinach in the scalding water for a minute (blanching) before cooling it off in the cold water. Drain your spinach before seasoning it with sesame oil and salt.
- Cut your carrots into strips before frying it in a pan until it’s softer. Add a pinch of salt before setting it aside.
- There’s a good chance you won’t be making your own yellow pickled radish. So if they aren’t in strips yet when you bought them, just cut them into sizes that’ll fit your kimbap.
- Slice your sheets of fish cake into strips. Heat up some oil in a pan to fry your fish cakes with soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil for two minutes or until it’s soft.
- When all your ingredients are ready, get the rice out of the cooker and mix it with sesame oil and salt. Make sure it’s evenly flavored. Doing this also cools down the rice, which makes it better for use.
- Take a nori sheet, with the makintab side facing down. Use a bamboo mat for rolling if you have one, but you can also just do this on a cutting board. Spread the rice evenly on a sheet.
- One by one, lay each ingredient on top of the rice, towards the bottom of the sheet. Lift the bottom and tuck the fillings with your fingers before rolling the entire kimbap away from you. Make sure you’re being firm as you roll, tightly closing the kimbap. Brush sesame oil to the outside before using a sharp knife to cut the kimbap into bite sizes.
You can have so much fun making kimbap at home. Here’s a recipe for a vegan kimbap where they use similar vegetables plus burdock roots, which you can buy at Korean marts, tofu, and cucumbers. Another recipe for tuna kimbap naman includes tuna, kani, perilla leaves, and burdock and other vegetables. So let us know what kind of kimbap you decide to make!
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