My freshman year of college, I lived with my sisters because that’s what our parents wanted. I’d lived with them before, of course, but our four bedroom dorm also housed another member: Soung.
Soung was an international student from Korea who’d lived with my sisters for a year before I moved in. While she loved hanging out with us, teaching us bits of Korean and learning new English slang, Soung was still very much invested in Korean culture, which was great. She took us to her Korean-language church (where we got to meet lots of great people and eat food prepared by caring moms who oversaw the college program), and we watched Korean-language movies sometimes.
Most importantly, we had roommate dinners, where we each took turns preparing food and then eating at a tiny dorm room table, as a family. My sisters and I, in retrospect, didn’t make anything too great. Tuna noodle casserole, shake and bake chicken. But Soung made comfort food from Korea--from scratch. Bulgogi she marinated for hours, kimchi and other banchan her grandma made on a recent trip to the states. She taught me that most things can be improved with a fried egg and gochujang is a condiment that should be in every fridge. I only lived with Soung for one year and since we’ve graduated Soung moved back to Korea to teach English. Regrettably, we haven’t kept up with each other.
Still, I’ll always be thankful to her for sparking a love of Korean food. I’ve read many Korean recipe blogs and cookbooks since meeting Soung. I don’t always follow recipes. I’m pretty bad about it, actually. If an actual Korean chef looked at what I made, they’d probably laugh.
But that’s not what cooking is about, is it? Cooking, to me, is about giving something tangible to people you love, something we all need anyway. I like giving others new food experiences, which is one reason why I particularly like cooking Korean food for my friends and family.
Kimbap is kind of like Korean sushi, but that’s not really doing it justice. Sesame oil in the rice gives the rolls a nutty, comforting flavor. My recipe isn’t exact, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless!
- 4 cups of cooked rice (short grain--I use a Zojirushi rice cooker, which is maybe one of the best kitchen purchases I’ve ever made)
- 4 sheets of seaweed
- 2.5 tablespoons sesame oil
- Pinch of salt
I used cucumber, carrots, avocado, crab, radishes, and egg, but you can put whatever you like in the rolls.
Take your cooked rice, mix it with the sesame oil and a bit of salt, stir, then leave it alone. It needs to cool a bit before you make it into rolls.
While you’re rice is cooling, assemble your ingredients. Julienne your veggies and, if you need, cut up your crab (I use imitation crab, which I love, but I realize is kind of gross). To cook the egg, beat an egg with a tiny pinch of sugar and soy sauce, then pour into a hot, lightly oiled pan. Once the egg has set on the bottom, gently flip it over with a spatula. You want a thin sheet of egg. Slice the sheet up and set aside.
Once your rice is cool, you’re ready to roll! I kind of cheat on this step and use a sushi mold. You put some rice in the bottom of the mold, put in your toppings, put in more rice, then press it all together. The mold cost about $7 at my local asian grocery and I highly suggest getting one.
Place the roll on the edge of a piece of seaweed and roll it up.
These instructions are sort of sloppy, but overall kimbap is kind of intuitive. It can be whatever you want it to be!
What's your favorite recipe? Would you like to see more recipes on the blog? Let me know in the comments!