Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making kimbap, the #1 Korean food

Everyone knows that bibimbap is a symbolic national dish of Korean nation. Although it is true, as the concept of bibimbap = mixing various vegetables and rice harmonically = is a bit true of Korean society nowadays. Diversity is rising in Korea and I bet it will become another melting pot country someday soon. Whether it is good news or bad, it is the fact. But, a totally different story.

What I am going to write about today is another great dish of the Koreans, the dish that can be consumed by almost everyone, the healthy well-being and most-favored dish, the dish that most foreigners turn to when they have no other choices, the dish that spread to so many countries = KIMBAP.

Kimbap is a popular Korean dish, made from steamed white rice and various other ingredients, rolled in sheets of dried laver seaweed and served in bite-sized slices. Kim in Korean means seaweed and bap is rice. Some people call it rolls, some people mistakenly take them for sushi, but I will tell ya, there is something magical in kimbap. Unlike sushi, kimbap is accessible to everyone. It is optimal choice of food for taking to picnics or outdoor events.

Today I will teach you how to make this amazing dish. What we need are:

Ingredients for making kimbap
  • 1/3 carrot, julienned
  • 4 cups spinach
  • Soy sauce
  • 6 inch long half-log of takuan (pickled daikon radish)
  • 1/2 log of odeng (steamed fish cake)
  • 1 cup bulgogi (beef slices)
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 4 sheets of kim
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Bamboo rolling mat 

*Makes 4 servings
Step 1:
Lay out a piece of kim in front of you on the bamboo mat. Take approximately 1 cup of rice and spread evenly over the bottom 2/3 of the sheet, leaving a 3/4 inch border of rice-less space. If you have a rice paddle, this is the time to use it. If you don't, no worries—just use your fingers or a plain old spoon. Your kim now has a rice blanket ready to be seasoned. Sparingly brush sesame oil over the rice blanket. (Be careful, because too much sesame oil can be overpowering.) Sprinkle some salt over that and you're ready to fill.

Step 2:
With about an inch of empty rice space at the bottom, place the filling ingredients on top of and next to each other. They want to be close together, but since it is logistically impossible to have a Jenga tower of kimbap filling,"on top of and next to each other" is the next best thing. See, Mr. Odeng is sad he is not closer to the bulgogi!

Step 3:
Now that you have all your fillings set and ready to go, get ready to roll. Your palms may sweat and your stomach may feel queasy, but it's okay—we can do this! Slowly and gently roll over the bamboo mat end that is closest to you, and keep rolling while pulling back that same bamboo mat edge. Once you've started the roll, the roll shape should be maintained. After fully encircling the kimbap filling (visual confirmation is suggested), give a couple of extra squeezes with your hands to firm up the roll. At this point, you can check to see if the edges of the kim are sticking together. If the bond is too loose and your kimbap are about to erupt, use a couple of grains of rice as glue.

Remove the bamboo mat, and get ready to slice up the kimbap. Keep a paper towel soaked with some sesame oil nearby to wipe your knife. You'll need to wipe it every so often to keep the knife from getting too sticky. And that's it! Let the kimbap feast commence!

Kimbap is so versatile. Its packing-friendly shape and easy deliciousness make it ready for picnics in the park, beach excursions, road trips, and any transportation situation. So try your hand at making some and let me know how it goes, especially if you have any tips for the other newbies out there. Have a kimboperiffic day!

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