Kim-bap is a Korean version of sushi roll. It literally means “dried laver” (kim) “rice” (bap). To be honest with you, I don’t know which came first, the Japanese version or the Korean. I’m tempted to say Japanese, but you never know. Kim-bap tastes drastically different from the Japanese sushi rolls. While the Japanese prefer subtle and almost bland flavours (which isn’t necessarily bad), Koreans like bold and almost punch in your face flavours. Kim-bap definitely has more flavours depending on what you put in as fillings. I’m not the best kim-bap roller, but my children love kim-bap. I rarely make this because it’s a bit time consuming, but when I make these, I make extra so the left overs can be made into Kim-bap Tempura!
Word of advice, kim-baps and any other sushi rolls are best when eaten on the same day when they are made. During Winter time, you can keep them in a cool place (not in the frig because the rice will become hardened) until the next day, but that’s it, after the 2nd day, it won’t taste the same. Also, there are many variations of kim-bap and how to make these delicious rolls, this is just one way of making it, and even though it’s a bit time consuming, it’s a simple version.
4 cups of short grained rice
4-1/4 cups water
Takuan (pickled radish) – you can buy this at Korean/Japanese markets
2 cans tuna
8-10 sheets of sushi nori (seaweed sheet)
mayo, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and salt
(** the amounts shown here are not the exact amounts, you’ll have to play with the amounts, use this as a guideline).
Rinse the rice and soak for about 30 minutes. Either cook the rice in the rice cooker or in a heavy pot over medium low heat. For sushi style rice, I prefer the rice cooker.
Beat the egg, and make 2-8 inch size omelets
The fillings I chose are spinach (wash and blanch the spinach. Drain the water and squeeze out extra water out from the spinach. Add about 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds). Eggs (cool down the folded omelets and cut them into finger size slices). Julienne the carrots and sauté few minutes. Slice the takuan the same size as the eggs. Tuna (drain the water and add about 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise – instead of tuna, if you prefer non-vegetarian filling, you can add ham, bulgogi – Korean style grilled beef, or other meat filling).
When the rice is done, add about 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and about 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Gentle mix (don’t press on the rice when you mix). Let it cool slightly and spread some rice over the nori sheet leaving about 1/2 inch space around the nori. I usually use the sushi roller (the bamboo slate you see under the nori), but you don’t need one.
Arrange the fillings as shown on this photo. You probably will have to practice couple of times until you can roll so that when you slice the rolls they look semi decent Slice the roll into 1/2 inch slices – it helps to wet the knife and slicing into kim-baps.
My opinion: As you see in the photos, I mostly used mixture of brown/white and red rice. The very first photo, I arranged the kim-bap using the mixed rice, but also white rice (I guess for presentation purpose). Kim-bap is one of my comfort food, I can easily buy kim-bap at the Korean market or at the Korean restaurants, but as always, food tastes better when made at home.