So I lived in Gwangju, South Korea from 2009-2013 (a lil over 4 years-yeow!). One of my go-to snacks/quick meals to purchase at a mom and pop diner there was kimbap. It’s kind of like a maki sushi roll, without the sushi. My favorite kind was the chamchi kimbap, which is canned tuna fish w/ mayo added to the roll. Since being back in the U.S., I’ve only had kimbap a handful of times, some pretty tasty, some old and dry. So since I’ve been experimenting with vegan foods (I’m over a month in!), I thought I’d put a vegan spin on kimbap and try making it at home for the first time! Boy am I sure glad I did.
Making kimbap is a fairly easy process, but is somewhat time-consuming. I went to our local Asian grocery store to pick up some supplies:
This is the roller used to pull everything together. It costs maybe $2 and makes the process of pulling together a tight kimbap super easy! YOU NEED THIS.
Next, you’ll need some short-grain brown rice. I always opt for brown rice, as it is not stripped of the nutritious fiber like white rice. And we all could use more fiber in our diets. Note: when cooking any type of rice, remember to wash it, or else you’ll get a glutinous blob instead of fluffy rice. It is important to use short-grain rice when making any type of packed rice dish, as it forms together better than any long-grain kind.
You’ll also need large flat sheets of salted and dried seaweed (in Korean it’s called “kim”).
You’ll also need rice vinegar, sesame oil, and some strips of yellow korean pickled radish.
Next, just pick up your choice of veggies and protein and you’re good to go!
Jo-Jo’s Killer Kimbap
1 large carrot, cut into thin strips
1/2 hothouse/English cucumber, cut into thin strips
1/2 brick extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into thin strips
3 mushrooms, cut into thin strips
1 avocado, cut into thin strips
5 strips of yellow pickled radish (“danmuji”)
5 sheets of salted and dried seaweed (“kim”)
1 cup of short-grain brown rice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
- Wash brown rice and cook with 2-3 cups of water. Let cooked rice cool, then add rice vinegar and sesame oil. Mix together.
- Set one sheet of seaweed on top of the kimbap roller. Spread thin layer of cooked rice mixture onto the first 2/3 of the sheet.
- About 1-2 inches from the bottom, layer in the strips of veggies, tofu, pickled radish, and avocado. DO NOT OVERFILL! 1-2 slices of each should be fine.
- Starting with the end closest to you, gently roll the entire sheet and the bamboo roller out. Once the bamboo roller creates one rotation, ease it off the kimbap and roll the remainder by hand. You do not need to roll super tight, as the bamboo roller will do most of that for you, and if it is too tight it may split the seaweed apart. Be gentle.
- The seaweed at the ends of the roll may not be very moist and may be stiff still. Simply set the roll aside with the crispy seaweed underneath and it will eventually become moist enough and adhere to the entire roll.
- If you’d like, you can take a very sharp knife and slice the roll into more bite-sized pieces, resembling sushi. I didn’t have a super-sharp knife, so I just ate the roll like a burrito.
The second I made my first roll I couldn’t wait to eat it! After biting in, I got flashbacks to the lil mom and pop diners in Korea. My next attempt, I plan to add in a layer of mashed chickpeas with some Veganaise to mimic the tuna in it that I used to love. If you’re into eggs and meat, add some of that in there as well! Let me know if you find some new ways to put a spin on this recipe! Have fun!