Korean kimbap rolls look just like Japanese maki rolls, yet there is one big difference. The short grain rice for Korean kimbap is seasoned just with salt and sesame oil, whereas the Japanese rice is seasoned with with sugar, salt and vinegar – to make ‘sushi rice’. Kimbap is a popular lunch dish in Seoul, with small kiosks and street food stalls selling the rolls alongside other freshly made snack foods.
The name kimbap (or gimbap) stems from kim (or gim) for the seasoned seaweed sheets used for rolling (called nori sheets in Japan), and bap for rice. Fillings vary enormously – vegetables are mixed with meat, pickles, and spicy sauces.
In this recipe, we’ve made the kimbap as an ‘inside-out’ roll. It is said that the inside-out roll was developed in the West: Californians didn’t like the look of of the black seaweed covered rolls, so instead the rolls were rolled with the rice on the outside. If you find the rice-covered sheet of seaweed is too difficult to turn over to make an inside out roll, just follow the recipe without turning over the nori / rice sheet (as per the directions below).
In the recipe below, the pork filling and spinach filling can be made the day before. Once the rolls are made, try to eat the same day. It’s not the quickest packed lunch, but you’d certainly be the envy of your office! Refrigerate rolls wrapped in cling film, and slice just before serving.
For the rice Serves: 4
For the pork filling
For the spinach filling
For the spicy dressing
Preparing the ingredients
- First prepare the rice. Whilst the cooked rice is warm, stir together with the salt, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Leave to cool.
- For the pork filling, heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until translucent. Add the finely sliced pork and salt, and stir fry for a couple of minutes until cooked. Stir through the sesame seeds, sesame oil, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and black pepper. Set aside to cool.
- For the spinach filling, wilt the spinach in a large sauce pan with a lid. Tip into a colander, and press to remove all the water. Place on a chopping board, and chop the spinach. Lift with your hands, and squeeze out any remaining water. Place the cooked spinach into a bowl and mix well with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and spring onion. Set aside to cool.
- Next make the spicy dressing. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
To assemble the rolls
- Lay a sheet of cling film over the sushi rolling mat and place a nori sheet on top. Using your fingers, spread a third of the seasoned rice over the nori sheet and press firmly in place (see image below).
- Next turn over the rice and nori. Holding the far corners of the nori sheet with both hands, and lift and flip it over towards you. The rice will now be against the surface of the cling film and the seaweed should face upwards.
- Spread the pork mixture along the edge of the nori sheet closest to you, and then repeat with the spinach mixture.
- To roll the kimbap roll, lift the sushi rolling mat, together with the cling film and press and roll away from you (like the picture below). Keep pressing down and rolling, as you gradually lift the sushi mat away from you. You should finish with a tight kimbap roll. Set aside, and repeat with the remaining two nori sheets.
- If you want to save the rolls for later, wrap tightly in the cling film and refrigerate.
- Slice just before serving. Use the sushi mat to help guide your knife, and slice very gently using a back and forth motion - rather than pressing firmly. See picture below.
- To serve, lay the sliced pork kimbap roll on a platter and top with a little of the spicy gochujang sauce. Enjoy!
Press the rice firmly across the seaweed sheet to form the structure of the kimbap
Lift the rolling mat along with the cling film to form the roll. Press firmly as you go.
Use the sushi mat to help hold the Korean pork kimbap roll together when slicing