Lunar New Year is fast approaching. In my house, we celebrate Korean New Year which is one of the top three most important holidays in the Korean calendar. Normally, we are to clean the house before the new year, because Koreans believe that it will reflect the rest of your year.
On Korean New Year, Koreans normally eat a bowl of Rice Cake Soup aka Tteokguk which is rice cake soup with eggs, beef, and some green veggies. It’s a super savory dish, and is very special and nostalgic to Koreans.
In the day leading up to the New Year, I was inspired to make some Korean food. And I decided to make Kimbap which is a Korean style futomaki. Normally, there are thousands of variations in which to make kimbap. In the kimbap stores in Korea, there are many kinds you can buy on the menu. When I visit Kimbap Heaven (김밥천국), my favorite thing to order is the bulgogi roll with some naengmyeon (cold noodles).
In my kimbap recipe, I like to use ingredients depending on what I’m in the mood for. I will show you the recipe here that I made last night.
7-10 cups of cooked rice
~15 sheets of roasted seaweed (aka yaki nori)
1 bamboo mat (optional, but strongly preferred)
2 gobo sticks (if fresh, it needs to be boiled in water until soft)
* Then it needs to be put in same marinade as instant bulgogi (see below)
2 rolls pickled radish (takuon or dakweon)
1 pkg imitation crab meat
1-2 lbs of bulgogi *** See instant bulgogi recipe below ***
– In order to marinate the beef, I normally take thin sliced beef and put it into a bowl of water to take out the blood. Any residual blood will end up foaming (or coagulating) in the wok when you cook it. Then you heat a wok (or pot) and add 2 cups water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of honey (sugar and agave can also be used). Then you add the meat and boil until the meat is full cooked through. This is the instant recipe I use when I need bulgogi for kimbap, bibimbap, or any other dishes.
– The same marinade above can be used to boil the gobo which is one of the ingredients I used.
– The eggs are a bit tricky. I normally break three eggs and whisk together very well. Then heat them under low-med heat on a well oiled pan until the bottom side is firm. Then flip gently to make sure not to rip the egg. The goal is not to cook the egg fast, but to gently heat through so we can flip both sides. You will want to create a thin circle basically that has no rips.
1. Prepare the “mise en place” which is a fancy way of saying prep work. In order to prepare the “mise en place”, you need freshly made rice. Then go ahead and cut up the gobo, pickled radish, cucumber, eggs, and crab into strips/sticks that can fit in the kimbap. The beef will need to be minced or cut into strips as well.
2. Place a sheet of seaweed on the bamboo roller mat as mentioned earlier. Then add on the rice to cover half the sheet and place each of the mise en place components on the rice.
3. Use the bamboo mat to roll up the ingredients into a kimbap roll! You are done and you can cut up the roll into bite size pieces. However, i will tell you one secret that Koreans do. Koreans like to brush some sesame oil on the rolls and sprinkle a little bit of salt before cutting the rolls. We do this to accentuate the savory side of kimbap as well as pump up the flavor.
Kimbap has always been a special snack for Koreans. In Korea, it’s very accessible, and can fill you up quick in an emergency. Also, they say you can determine a mother’s love if she has ever attempted to make kimbap for her child before school. The reason behind this is that kimbap is very times-taking to make. And to make attractive looking kimbap is even more difficult.
I still remember when my mom used to make me kimbap before school and on weekends. I used to enjoy eating the end pieces as those were the best parts of the roll. And when we had a batch of kimchi to go with the rolls, it was even more special. Because the rolls are full of rice, veggies, and some meat, it makes the perfect snack or meal. The flavors are amazing and it’s hard to go wrong with this roll. Almost any ingredient can be used as long as it’s not watery or powdery. Previously, I almost always used carrots, fishcake, and spinach in my rolls. Those ingredients happen to be very common to a traditional kimbap as well.
In a batch I made a few months ago, I made Tuna Kimbap which had tuna, mayonnaise, sesame leaves, carrots, and some other vegetables. It’s good to explore with flavors and ingredients. That’s how we become better cooks. This is a special recipe to me, so I hope you all enjoy making kimbap.
As I usually tell people, cook from the heart, and the food will always be delicious.