Korean Rice Rolls (Kim Bap)
Kim Bap is a staple of Korean cuisine, and it’s basically like sushi but with different ingredients and no raw fish. I grew eating my mom’s kim bap, and this is her recipe!
My mom visited me last week, and when we weren’t out, we were at home cooking up a storm of good food.
My mom was so funny about the blog stuff…all along the way she exclaimed over and over again “TAKE PICTURE!!!” LOL.
For those of you who don’t know, my mom grew up in South Korea.
Being raised by a Korean mom and an American dad was a really cool experience and I feel blessed to have been exposed to Korean culture (especially since the food is amazing).
My mom not only knows how to make some incredible Korean dishes, but also did some short culinary school programs in Italy and France, so this lady really knows how to cook across the board.
This dish may look foreign to you (I mean, I guess it does sort of look like sushi, except there is no raw fish and the ingredients are different), but if you trust my taste in recipes and are looking to try something unusual, you should give it a try, because I would want this to be in my last meal on Earth.
It’s dang good, and a good example of something equaling more than the sum of its parts.
It may not seem like anything in here is all that special, but when you pair the right flavors and textures together, you get something magical.
This dish may look complicated, but it’s really just a series of little steps (sort of like mise en place) before you can roll all the good stuff up.
You cook up all the ingredients individually, and have them ready to go on a plate so you can roll it all up.
Start by covering a bamboo mat with a sheet of seaweed and a small layer of rice.
Notice the gentleness of my mom’s hands in this picture. She says not to smash the rice, but rather to gently spread it around with your fingertips. If you smash it, the rice will get gluey.
Smooth over the top of the rice with a spatula, with a gentle hand.
Then lay out all of your ingredients onto the rice, and start rolling.
Roll it up tightly. This will take some practice. It always needs to be tighter than you think to stay together.
And now it is ready to slice. Make sure you use a super sharp serrated knife, so you don’t have to smash the rolls. Try not to push down with any pressure, let the teeth of the knife saw the pieces off.
If you want to make inside out kim bap, after you’ve smoothed out the rice, flip it over, and put all the ingredients on the seaweed, then roll it up and slice.
Korean Kimbap Rolls
- 1 oz package of seaweed (nori)
- 2 cups white sushi rice
- 14 oz package mini cucumbers
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 4 medium carrots
- 5 extra large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- olive oil for sauteing
For the bulgogi style beef:
- 1 lb top sirloin thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions green part only
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp red wine
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/3 of a kiwi chopped
- Make the bulgogi beef by marinating the top sirloin with the scallions, garlic, red wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and kiwi. The reason we add the kiwi is to tenderize the meat. This is a little trick that my mom uses for all her red meat. Let it marinate in the fridge for 2 hours, but no longer, because the kiwi will break down the meat too much.
- On to the rice. I have a ricer cooker, so I cooked the rice in there according to the rice cooker’s directions. If you don’t have one, you can also cook the rice in a saucepan, just cook it according to the directions on the rice package. Let the rice cook while we work on the other ingredients, and we’ll come back to it later.
- Cucumber time. Quarter them up and scrape the seeds out with a knife. Soak the cucumbers in the rice vinegar, and sprinkle them generously with salt on both sides. We are not only seasoning the cucumbers and drawing the moisture out, but we will use this liquid to season the rice later on.
- Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water for 15-30 seconds or so. Drain, and reserve. Spinach is done.
- Peel and quarter up the carrots, and saute them over medium high heat in 2 tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt until they are tender but still have some crunch, about 5 minutes. Remove the carrots, and cook the marinated beef in the same pan, being careful not to overcook the meat.
- In a nonstick pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, and cook the eggs until it firms up into a big egg pancake. Remove the egg pancake from the pan, and slice it vertically into long strips.
- Lastly, the avocado. Just cut it up into long strips and set aside.
- Pour the juices from the cucumber into the rice, and season the rice with 1 tbsp sesame oil and salt, to taste. When you have all your veggies and beef ready to go, it’s time to make the kim bap! There are special bamboo mats that are made for rolling up sushi and kim bap. They are cheap (this one is $2.99 and free shipping), and easy to find. Lay your seaweed out onto the mat, and spread your rice out evenly. Make sure not to handle the rice too much or it will get gluey.
- Smooth over the top of the rice with a spatula, with a gentle hand. Lay out all of your ingredients onto the rice, using 2 layers of carrots, and 1 for everything else. Make sure to roll it up as tightly as you can, then slice with a super sharp serrated knife.
- If you want to make inside out kim bap, after you’ve smoothed out the rice, flip it over, and put all the ingredients on the seaweed, then roll it up and slice.