Korean Rice Rolls (Kim Bap)

My mom visited me last week, and when we weren’t out, we were at home cooking up a storm of good food.  My mom was so funny about the blog stuff…all along the way she exclaimed over and over again “TAKE PICTURE!!!”  LOL.  For those of you who don’t know, my mom grew up in South Korea, and I was raised with a Korean mom and an American (French, German, Irish, Austrian) dad.  I feel blessed to have been exposed to Korean culture (especially since the food is amazing).  My mom not only knows how to make some incredible Korean dishes, but also did some short culinary school programs in Italy and France, so this lady really knows how to cook across the board.  This dish may look foreign to you (I mean, I guess it does sort of look like sushi, except there is no raw fish and the ingredients are different), but if you trust my taste in recipes and are looking to try something unusual, you should give it a try, because I would want this to be in my last meal on Earth.  It’s dang good, and a good example of something equaling more than the sum of its parts.  It may not seem like anything in here is all that special, but when you pair the right flavors and textures together, you get something magical.  It’s not difficult to make, it is just a series of little steps (sort of like mise en place) before you can roll all the good stuff up.  Here’s how to make it:

1 1oz package of seaweed (you can get it at many supermarkets and definitely at asian supermarkets)
2 cups white sushi rice
1 14 oz package mini cucumbers (these have better flavor than the big ones)
2 big handfuls (2 cups packed) of baby spinach
4 medium carrots
1 ripe avocado
5 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 lb bulgogi style beef (recipe is below)
1 tbsp sesame seeds
olive oil for sauteing

First let’s start with the rice.  I have a ricer cooker, so I cooked the rice in there according to the rice cooker’s directions.  If you don’t have one, you can also cook the rice in a saucepan, just cook it according to the directions on the rice package.  Let the rice cook while we work on the other ingredients, and we’ll come back to it later.

Cucumber time.  Quarter them up and scrape the seeds out with a knife. Soak the cucumbers in the rice vinegar, and sprinkle them generously with salt on both sides.  We are not only seasoning the cucumbers and drawing the moisture out, but we will use this liquid to season the rice later on.

Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water for 15-30 seconds or so.  Drain, and reserve.  Spinach is done.

Peel and quarter up the carrots, and saute them over medium high heat in 2 tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt until they are tender but still have some crunch, about 5 minutes.  Remove the carrots, and cook the marinated beef in the same pan, being careful not to overcook the meat.

In a nonstick pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, and cook the eggs until it firms up into a big egg pancake.  Remove the egg pancake from the pan, and slice it vertically into long strips.

Lastly, the avocado.  Just cut it up into long strips, as pictured below, and get all your vegetable/beef mise en place ready to go on a plate:

Pour the juices from the cucumber into the rice, and season the rice with 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Taste, and adjust your seasoning.  When you have all your veggies and beef ready to go, it’s time to make the kim bap!  There are special bamboo mats that are made for rolling up sushi and kim bap.  They are cheap (this one is $2.99 and free shipping), and easy to find.  Lay your seaweed out onto the mat, and spread your rice out evenly.  Make sure not to handle the rice too much or it will get gluey.

Smooth over the top of the rice with a spatula, with a gentle hand.  Lay out all of your ingredients onto the rice, using 2 layers of carrots, and 1 for everything else.

Roll it up tightly:

And it is ready to slice.  Make sure you use a super sharp serrated knife:

If you want to make inside out kim bap, after you’ve smoothed out the rice, flip it over, and put all the ingredients on the seaweed, then roll it up and slice.

This recipe will make approximately 5 long kim bap rolls.  Thanks for reading!  Have a lovely day!  Please leave any comments, questions, or thoughts below!

Beef Marinade (Bulgogi):
Marinate 1 pound of thinly sliced top sirloin fillet with 1/4 cup chopped scallions (green part only), 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 tbsp red wine, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sesame seeds, and 1/3 of a kiwi, chopped.  Let it marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

The reason we add the kiwi is to tenderize the meat.  This is a little trick that my mom uses for all her red meat.  Just don’t let it marinate for too long or the kiwi will break down the meat too much.

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20 Responses to Korean Rice Rolls (Kim Bap)

  1. Jaqie says:

    mMMmmm my goodness, I can taste it! It looks amazing, and I want some like..now! lol

  2. seedotkay says:

    I made that with my bf not too long ago! I like to dip the kim bap into the duk bokki sauce! its soo good!

  3. I couldn’t be more jealous that you know how to roll sushi that well, haha. I could live on sushi if someone asked me, and it would be awesome to make it at home! I’ll definitely be trying your recipe when I get the chance 🙂

    • LOL Well my mom was the one rolling the kim bap up…I think if I tried it wouldn’t look as good. She is an expert! You definitely have to roll it up tighter than you would originally expect, and one of those bamboo mats is a must!

  4. Food Frenzy says:

    Thanks for sharing. Such a well prepared and rolled out kim bap. Great job!

    We invite you to share this post and some of your favorite food posts on Food Frenzy.
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  5. MM says:

    Hi, I have a question – do you serve any sauce with the final rolls? These look amazing, thanks!

  6. Zoe says:

    Thank you for sharing this with photos! I lived in Bundang for a while teaching ESL but I never had a chance to make my own kim bap. It’s one of the foods I greatly miss since leaving!

  7. shannon says:

    My Mouth is totally watering! Congrats on Top 9!

  8. sonia says:

    The rolls are looking so good, simply loved all the colors of vegetables added to it. congrtas for top 9 !

  9. Julie Tan says:

    This is a real keeper for me. I was born in Singapore but my best friend is Korean. Her mommy used to make the most delicious kimbap. I think your recipe will let me re-create her beautiful masterpiece! Thank you sooo much for sharing.

  10. Anna says:

    These were great! I am not a big sushi fan bc of the fish factor, I just don’t like it, especially tuna. I was really excited to make a sushi-like food but with bulgogi (which is one of my top ten fave foods). Mine did not turn out nearly as neat as yours since my 3 year old was helping, but they sure did taste good. We dipped ours in tamari sauce mixed with a little grated ginger.

    • Joanne says:

      YAY!!! Thanks for letting me know Anna. That’s so cute you cooked with your three year old, I could see this being a really fun recipe to do with kids. Yeah I hear you about the sushi…I’ve gotten sick WAY too many times from reputable sushi places and really, I don’t miss it. Kim bap is way better! And kudos for knowing what bulgogi is ❤

  11. Swee San says:

    mmm it looks so generous with filling. I just came back from Seoul and the food has been great. I like making sushi but I often can’t roll them tight like this.. Gotta practice more eh.

  12. Zastrow says:

    Ok, quick question here…this looks great, and I’d like to try something new, but I’m not a huge fan of the seaweed wraps. Can I substitute them with anything else?

    • Joanne says:

      I’m not sure how well this would work since I’ve never tried, but you could try layering cucumber shavings or I know they sell soy wraps that are kind of like the consistency of edible paper…but I don’t know if those would taste good LOL. Does that help at all? I hope so!

  13. Pingback: Fifteen Spatulas Rewind |

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