The word “best” is extremely subjective, but I’d like to call this the Best Kimbap according to my tastes. This kimbap recipe is more of a homage to the type of kimbap I grew up eating ever since I was a baby. Kimbap is extremely portable. I remember always packing kimbap when I went on field trips, when I had to prepare school lunches, and sometimes I would have it as a snack for whenever I got hungry!
Kimbap is a popular street food in Korea, and you can customize it with so many different ingredients. Some popular ingredients used are kimchi or bulgogi, eggs, spinach, carrots, and pickled radish. A lot of street vendors have some pre-made and sliced into rounds while other places tend to leave them whole. There’s no rhyme or reason why some are sliced and some aren’t—it is all about personal preference. Whenever I saw kimbap left whole, I always dubbed it as the “Korean burrito.”
The great thing about making kimbap is that it's extremely versatile. You start off with a base of nori and rice, but afterward, you can add whatever ingredients you want. I chose to keep my ingredients simple in this kimbap, but I made sure it was extremely flavorful. You can find all these ingredients in your local Asian grocery store. Feel free to experiment by adding or taking away any ingredients that do not suit your preferences. Don’t forget to purchase a bamboo mat so that you can roll your kimbap! —Catherine Yoo
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- makes 4 rolls
strips danmuji (pickled radishes)
packed baby spinach (about 3 ounces)
plus ½ teaspoon sesame oil, divided
canola oil, divided
julienned carrots (about 2¼ ounces)
kimchi, no liquid, coarsely chopped (about 6 ounces)
freshly cooked short-grain rice
Nori Komi Furikake (black sesame rice seasoning mix)
sheets roasted nori
- Drain the danmuji and arrange on a large plate or platter (you will use this plate to put all your prepared components).
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the spinach for 1 minute. Rinse the spinach in cold water and squeeze out as much liquid as you can with your hands. Place the spinach in a small bowl; season with salt and ¼ teaspoon of the sesame oil. Transfer the spinach mixture to the same plate as the pickled radishes.
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs with ⅛ teaspoon of the salt. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, warm ¼ teaspoon of the canola oil. Pour in the egg mixture. Rotate the pan so that the egg mixture is thinly spread out. Cook, without touching, until the bottom of the egg is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Cover the pan and remove from the heat. This will let the residual heat cook the other side of the egg. Once cooked, place the egg onto a cutting board. Roll the egg into an omelette shape and slice into ½-inch-wide strands. Unfurl the strands and transfer to the plate.
- In the same skillet over medium-low heat, warm the remaining ¼ teaspoon canola oil. Add the carrots; season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, until cooked through but still have crunch. Transfer to the plate.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, cook the kimchi, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the sesame oil, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until the kimchi becomes somewhat wilted and translucent. Transfer to the plate.
- Fluff the cooked rice and mix in the furikake and the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil by slicing the rice with your spoon so that it doesn’t get too sticky. (If you can’t find furikake, you can substitute it with toasted sesame seeds and a pinch of salt and sugar.)
- Place a bamboo mat shiny side down; arrange a sheet of nori rough side up on the mat with the longest side facing you. Pour about 1 cup of rice onto the nori and spread out, leaving a quarter of the top of the long side empty. Place a couple pieces of rice on the very top of the nori so that later, when you roll the kimbap, it stays together.
- Leave about 1 inch of rice on the bottom and start to lay each component of the kimbap horizontally across the rice, working your way to the top. Use one strand of pickled radish, a few egg strands, carrots, spinach, and kimchi.
- Start rolling the kimbap from the side closest to you, lifting up the bottom of the seaweed and folding it over to cover the components. Use your fingers to tuck everything in. Make sure to apply constant pressure to the bamboo mat so the filling stays in place. Continue to roll until you reach the end of the sheet. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of nori and the remaining ingredients.
- Place the kimbap seam side down and brush a little sesame oil over the rolls to coat. Slice the rolls into pieces about ½ inch wide. If the blade of the knife gets too sticky, rinse it with water and dry the knife before continuing to slice. If you aren’t serving immediately, make sure to cover in plastic wrap.