Kimbab (김밥), literally translated Seaweed Cooked Rice, is great for a quick snack or a fast lunch. Kimbab is definitely one of those on-the-go foods and in Korea, lots of people take this food for picnics (소풍) since it's very convenient or they simply purchase it from the street vendors. Kimbab is also known as Korean Sushi, but it's actually different because sushi generally involves less fillings and tends to use raw fish. Kimbab does not involve raw fish...most of the ingredients are actually cooked before the roll is assembled. Though it is somewhat tedious to make since there's a lot of fillings involved, it's well worth the effort. Kimbab is such a diverse dish...you can add whatever fillings you want, or take out whatever fillings you don't want. My personal favorite is what I call the "standard" kimbab which consists of imitation crab, fish cakes, carrots, pickled radish, japanese sausage, eggs, and spinach (or cucumbers that have been slightly salted). I also like Kimchi Kimbab :D Kimbab goes well with fish cake soup (오뎅국) and it's perfect with Korean Spicy Rice Cakes...just dip it in the sauce and it's definitely a match made in heaven! If you have leftover Kimbab the next day, why let it go to waste? Dip the cut slices of Kimbab into beaten eggs and cook on the pan. It's a wonderful leftover to eat :D Today, I want to share you my family's recipe for Kimbab...hope you enjoy! :D
5 medium carrots
11 sticks of imitation crab
1 1/2 pickled radish
4 korean sausage
12 oz fried fish cakes
10 cups of cooked short grain rice
2 bundles of spinach
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cooking syrup
4 cloves of garlic (minced and divided)
salt & pepper (to taste)
25 sheets of dried seaweed (not the salted, roasted kind)
Let's start off with the carrots. Peel the skin of the carrots with a potato peeler and julienne it into small strips. In a pan on high heat, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, carrots, a pinch of salt and pepper, and sautee for 2 minutes (you want it to retain a subtle crunch). Set aside.
While the carrots are cooking, beat 4 eggs together with a pinch of salt. In a square pan (if you don't have one, you can use a circular pan), place 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Cook the egg on one side till almost fully cooked. Then flip (turn down the heat if necessary so the egg does not burn...the second side should cook faster than the first). Repeat this process with 4 more eggs.
Place the cooked eggs on a cutting board. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then cut into thin strips (if you do not allow it to cool, the eggs will crumble while cutting). Then set aside.
For the korean sausage, first, peel the casing (the inside should reveal a pink-colored sausage). Cut each sausage into 6 long strips. Add 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan. Cook the sausage on one layer for about 3 minutes or until slightly golden. You do not want to add salt to the korean sausage. After fully cooked, set aside.
Cut the fried fish cake into thin strips. Add about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan, add fish cakes, add a pinch of pepper, and cook on high heat for about 1 minute. Then add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/2 tbsp cooking syrup, incorporate, and turn the heat down to medium-low and let the soy sauce reduce for about 3 minutes. Then set aside.
Meanwhile, cut the pickled radish into thin strips (you can also use the yellow-colored variety). Set aside.
Moving on to the imitation crab. Cut each stick of imitation crab in half (length-wise). Add 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper into a pan and cook in a single layer for about 2 minutes on high heat. Turn off the stove and set aside (this needs to be a quick process of the imitation crab will start to pull apart). Set aside.
Take two bundles of spinach. In boiling water, blanch the spinach. After blanching, wash the spinach with water. Then squeeze out the water (make sure you fully squeeze out the water or it will make your Kimbab soggy later on). Add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tbsp of sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt to the squeezed spinach and mix. Set aside.
Time to assemble now! :D
Place a sheet of dried seaweed on a bamboo mat. Add 1/3~1/2 cup of hot white rice (you can add sesame oil to your rice if you find that it is a little too tough).
Add a layer of your fillings and start rolling the seaweed...make sure you roll it tightly (remember practice makes perfect...don't be scared if you mess up the first time!)
Place the rolled Kimbab onto the bamboo mat and this time, roll it with the bamboo mat. Make SURE that it is tightly pressed together.
Squeeze tightly together. Then set the roll aside. Continue repeating the same process with the rest of the Kimbab. Then, wear a plastic glove and coat the glove with some sesame oil. Cover the Kimbab rolls with sesame oil (this ensures that the Kimbab roll doesn't dry out along the edges and it adds an extra depth of flavor). Make SURE that you add the sesame oil AFTER the kimbab rolls have sat for at least a good 5 minutes.
Cut up and serve! :D