Foray Into Korean Cooking, Part I

J is Korean, so while visiting his parents this summer, I was exposed to lots of delicious Korean food I had never tried before. So delicious, in fact, that I’ve begun to crave some of these foods. Now I could have just found the nearest Korean restaurant, probably somewhere in Oakland, and just gone to fill my craving there. But being me, I decided to try and make some of it myself.

First up on the list: KIMBAP
Kimbap is basically Korean sushi. From what I was told, I can pretty much put whatever I want into the roll, just so long as it has the basics of seaweed (kim) and rice. J’s mom made me some very tasty kimbap filled with pickled radish, cucumber, carrot, cheese, and sausage. SO DELICIOUS. I tried to replicate this with carrot, cucumber, spam, and chili pickled radish.

I was sadly unable to find yellow pickled radish at 99 Ranch Market, so I settled for chili pickled radish, which was okay, but really didn’t provide the tang like I wanted. So, here we have some “thinly” (aka my lazy version of julienned) sliced cucumber and carrots. I sauteed the carrots with a little bit of sesame oil for maybe 2 or 3 minutes just to take the bite out of straight up raw carrots. I also slightly browned the spam after the carrots, as “raw” spam freaks out my family.

Steamed rice spread evenly over the seaweed, then sprinkled with some sesame oil and salt. I would have added sesame seeds but I’m out right now.

Lining up the delicious filling. If you can’t tell, I way over filled this one, you’ll want to put in less of your filling. This roll fell apart because it was too full.

Final product. Delicious kimbap!

Kimbap Recipe

4 Cups Steamed Rice, cooled [just leave it in the rice cooker, but have the rice cooker off – if it’s too warm still it will “melt” the seaweed]
4 or 5 pieces of seaweed (kim)
Sesame Oil
2 carrots, julienned, and briefly sauteed in sesame oil
1/2 large cucumber, julienned
Pickled yellow radish, or any kind really
1/2 can of SPAM, or any kind of meat really, bulgogi anyone?
Other Optional Fillings: Egg, spinach, cheese, kimchi, imitation crab, fishcake, tuna salad.

Advisable: Bamboo sushi mat. But I imagine you can probably roll them without it, I just find it easier to help the roll keep its shape.

Steam your rice, once it is cooled, drizzle in about 1 tsp sesame oil (or more, depending on your liking – but remember, a little goes a long way for sesame oil as the flavor can be overpowering), along with a sprinkling of salt and sesame seeds. Place a piece of seaweed shiny side down on the bamboo mat. Spread rice evenly along the seaweed, leaving about a 1/2 inch border of space around the top and sides of the seaweed square, and about 1 whole inch of space at the bottom, for rolling purposes.

Place your desired fillings in a nice line at the bottom of the rice square you’ve just made. Begin the rolling process by taking that “empty” bit of seaweed at the bottom and wrapping it as tightly around the filling as possible. Proceed to roll tightly, using the bamboo mat. Use the mat to make the roll firm and help it keep its shape. You can always use extra rice to “glue” the roll together if the seaweed isn’t staying.

Now on to slicing…

Important: You need a very sharp knife to slice the roll into bite sized pieces. I used a so-so knife which resulted in one of my rolls completely being destroyed. I happily ate this mess as I made the rest of my kimbap. :] However, this kind of mess is not conducive to easy eating, which is an added bonus of kimbap.
Also, when slicing into bite sized pieces, make sure the seam of the roll is on the bottom, it will assist in keeping the shape of the roll.

And voila, you have kimbap! A ready-to-eat snack, a quick lunch, or whatever. Dip in your favorite sauce if you would like, or eat it plain. I prefer plain.

Tip: The rice tends to dry out quickly, even when stored air-tight, so try to eat within a day or two.

Recipe – a combination of J’s mom and myself.

I’m happy to say that both my boyfriend and his mother said my kimbap looked legit. And I’m happy to say both my family and I found it to be quite delicious. Though I have to say I think this is pretty much a foolproof recipe, minus the rolling bit.

Next up: Ddukbokki!
Yea, we’ll see how that goes.

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