Korean kimbap (also known as gimbap) are rice rolls that look a lot like sushi. Traditional fillings for kimbap include seasoned vegetables, egg, meat, and/or imitation crab, but these days anything goes.
From Seoul to New York City, fillings range from cheesy to spicy to fresh. Kimbap is like the Korean version of a sandwich—you can change the filling to fit any diet, palate, or occasion.
Kim or gim means dried seaweed in Korean, and bap or bop means rice. Chamchi (tuna in Korean) is filled with tuna and other vegetables, kimchi kimbap features kimchi as one of its stars, and Chungmu kimbap is a rice-only roll from the city of Chungmu in Korea.
Click Play to See This Korean Sushi Rolls Recipe Come Together
- For the Wraps:
- 2 cups white rice (short grain)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 8 sheets of dried seaweed (nori)
- 4 teaspoons sesame oil
- 4 teaspoons salt
- For the Filling:
- Optional: 8 ounces cooked bulgogi
- 1 carrot (peeled and julienned)
- 1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and cut into drained)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry)
- 1/2 cup pickled daikon (drained and cut into matchsticks)
- Optional: imitation crab
- Optional: fishcake
Prepare the Rice for the Wraps
Gather the ingredients.
Rinse the rice with water and drain the cloudy water up to three or four times.
Then, put the rinsed rice in a sturdy pot (that has a tight-fitting lid) and cover with water. The water should be about 1-inch higher than the level of the rice. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down immediately to a simmer.
Do not remove the lid. Continue to steam the rice for 12 to 15 minutes. If you're not sure how long to steam the rice, you can try taking a quick taste to assess its texture and doneness.
Turn off the heat but leave the lid on. This will enable the rice to continue steaming for 5 minutes. This should yield 4 cups of cooked rice. Set aside to cool a little. You want the rice still warm, but not hot.
Set the dried seaweed sheets aside for the moment.
In a medium bowl, mix the lukewarm rice with sesame oil and salt. Set aside.
Make the Filling
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare bulgogi according to recipe directions and reserve 8 ounces for this recipe, if using. Refrigerate or freeze the rest.
In a nonstick skillet, stir-fry carrots briefly with a dash of salt, remove from the pan, and set aside.
In a nonstick skillet, stir-fry the cucumber with a dash of salt, remove from the pan, and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until they are evenly yellow and fry into a flat omelet in a nonstick skillet. Remove from pan and cut the cooked eggs into long strips.
Roll the Kimbap
Using a bamboo sushi roller or a piece of tin foil, lay one piece of the dried seaweed shiny side down.
Spread about 1/2 cup of rice onto 2/3 of the seaweed, leaving the top 1/3 bare. We recommend having a bowl of water nearby when rolling the sushi, for keeping the rice from sticking and for sealing the rolls.
Lay some of the bulgogi down about a third of the way up from the bottom of the seaweed.
In single layers, place 1/4 of the other fillings—carrots, cucumbers, eggs, spinach, radishes, optional imitation crab, and fishcake—on top of the bulgogi.
Roll from the bottom (as if you're rolling a sleeping bag), pressing down to make the fillings stay in.
As you continue to roll, pull the whole thing down toward the end of the bamboo mat.
Spread a tiny dab of water along the top seam to hold the roll together.
Set aside and repeat with the remaining dried seaweed sheets. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Then, cut each roll into 7 to 8 pieces.
The fillings for kimbap are only limited by your creativity. You can go with traditional Korean ingredients or put a new spin on an old favorite.
- Kimchi and cheese
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese
- Spam, mayo, and veggies
- Ham and cheese
- Tuna salad with romaine lettuce and cheese