I love Korean food. I like the glares I get from my husband when I whip out a jar of spicy, funky kimchi at dinner. I love stopping at the Korean grocery store on my way home from work to get banchan to snack on with Z. And I really love kimbap. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on kimbap, but I know enough not to call it Korean Sushi. You have the basic similarities: rice + filling + seaweed roll, but that’s about it. Kimbap is very versatile, and you can add anything you want to personalize the experience. The one thing that doesn’t seem to vary is the addition of picked radish.
I found this at our local Korean grocery store, but it should be available at any well-stocked Asian grocery store. These are sliced, but you can also buy whole pickled radishes. While shopping, pick up some kimchi or other banchan to go into your rolls. Save yourself some time, and add a new flavor. If not, leftover bulgogi works great, or vegetables slightly sauteed with sesame oil and sesame seeds. For this version, I included radish, cooked spinach from the banchan bar and crab sticks. To make this family friendly, try teriyaki chicken and sliced cucumber along with the radish.
Unlike sushi, kimbap does not contain soy, and isn’t meant to be dipped, so make sure that you add enough salt to the rice. Like sushi, you roll these with a mat. If you haven’t done this before, check out this Youtube video.
2 cups of cooked sushi or other short grain rice (follow the instructions on the package, but I find a 1 cup:1.25 cup rice:water ratio works best)
sesame oil – 1 – 2 tablespoons
2 tsp of salt, more or less if you prefer
Korean pickled radish
1 package of seaweed sheets
Any filling that you want
Sushi rolling mat
While the rice is cooking, prep your fillings.
Put cooked rice in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and sesame oil. This is a great opportunity to use a spray bottle, if you have one, because it makes it really easy to distribute the oil evently. Gently mix the rice and add more salt and sesame oil as you go. Let the rice cool down enough that it is comfortable to touch.
Put your mat on a flat surface, so that lines are horizontal. The seaweed goes on top of the mat, shiny side down, with the lines going horizontally like the mat. Using a spoon or a rice paddle, scoop rice onto the seaweed, along the bottom closest to you. The amount you use will vary depending on how many fillings you add, but you can see what I did below. Layer your fillings on top of the rice and roll.
Once your rolls are made, slice them into individual pieces. If it starts sticking to your knife, spray or wipe the blade with sesame oil.
I know it might seem like a lot of work, but it isn’t very time consuming AFTER the rice is cooked. Once you get the rolling technique down, they go very quickly. I knocked out 4 rolls in about 10 minutes, and that’s while talking to a toddler!