Bulgogi & Kimchi Kimbap


My brother and his fiancé are both currently at Post-Secondary School earning their much deserved educations. The plan is that they will finally be returning home when they’re done; here in Canada’s North. I’m thrilled. Sure, they come back every summer during their break, and for at least 2 weeks around Christmas, but it never seems like enough time. Every year, we have grandiose plans for amazing dinners we’re going to execute and devour. Indian Feast; Moroccan Feast; Sushi Feast …. And every year I am at the airport, bidding them adieu while dreaming of the food we never ate. I realize that part of the problem is our own doing: we never make the time to get together. Although the summer break for them is 4 months long, it’s a whirlwind of catching up with family and friends … and on relaxation lost over stressful nights cramming for exams or last minute assignments. Also, my future sister-in-law – Carina – worked an insanely busy job this past summer as a dispatcher for the water bombers (very cool job); and since the North had many forest fires, she was rarely seen by any of us.

On one of the few occasions that I did bump into Carina at my parent’s place; she was busy preparing to make Kimbap. I had never heard of it before, and I suspect there are some of you reading this who never have either. It’s a Korean “street food” akin to Japanese sushi. Like sushi, it’s a roll made with rice, seaweed and whatever fillings your heart desires. Typically it’s made with picked radishes or other pickled vegetables; and perhaps the addition of cooked fish or beef or eggs. It’s usually eaten as a snack or quick lunch meal, as it’s easily stored and transported. Sometimes it’s cut into slices, just like sushi, but if you’re packing it for a lunch on the run, you can leave it unsliced, and devour it like a burrito. The difference from sushi – and what makes it so much easier to eat (perfect for lunch) – is that you don’t need wasabi, pickled ginger, or soy sauce. Just the roll. Yum.

Carina found out that there is no where in town to purchase pickled radishes; so she left them out of hers – and I also left them out of mine (which makes me think we’ll have to make pickled radishes this summer…). When Carina made Kimbap in the summer – so she would have delicious lunches while working away at her job – she filled it with fried spicy tuna, avocado, and crab meat. The day after she made it, I was over visiting, and felt like a snack; so Carina said I should try some of the Kimbap rolled up in the fridge. I cut up a few slices and greedily inhaled them. Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about making this easy to prepare “snack” – but of course, never got around to doing it until now. Since I didn’t make any pickled radishes, I wanted something else pickled in the rolls – and what could be better than the ultimate Korean pickle: kimchi!


Adapted from & spoon fork bacon

I also used’s Bulgogi recipe for my kimbap rolls. I’ve written out the list of ingredients, but linked to the site for how to make the bulgogi. The only thing I changed was using rib-eye steak over sirloin – I wanted to ensure the beef was incredibly tender for the kimbap. I didn’t have any kimchi on hand, and didn’t feel like waiting to make some. So I made a very quick kimchi by using a half a bag of pre-cut, bagged coleslaw. Because the cabbage was so finely sliced, it wilted and took on the flavours of the fish sauce and hot chili paste fast. I let it soak for about 10 minutes with 1 Tbsp of salt and 1/2 cup water – then rinsed the cabbage. Then I mixed it with 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp sambal oelek, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 inch piece of ginger – minced, 1 clove of garlic – minced, and 1/4 tsp chili flakes. I put the mixture in a mason jar and filled with water. Allowed it to sit while I prepared the remaining kimbap ingredients and it was good to go!

For Kimbap
3 cups uncooked sticky rice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 batch of bulgogi (link to recipe & ingredients below)
1 carrot
1 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch of spinach
5-6 sheets nori (roasted seaweed)
* you will also need a bamboo rolling mat (cover with plastic film if desired to prevent rice from sticking to mat)

For Bulgogi
1 lb rib-eye steak
2 Tbsp soy sauce – gluten free
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook rice according to directions. Mix together the rice vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Once rice is cooked, pour vinegar mixture over rice and mix gently. Allow to cool slightly – you want warm rice. Too hot and the nori will fall apart. Too cold and it won’t smooth out on the nori. Meanwhile, begin preparing the remaining ingredients:

Prepare bulgogi according to directions on Maangchi. Peel the carrot, and cut into matchstick pieces. Heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan; add spinach and saute until wilted down. Drain the spinach. Set out all the ingredients in a “workspace” so you have plenty of room to roll the kimbap.

To begin, place a sheet of nori onto the bamboo rolling mat. Cover the nori with about 1 cup of rice – it will be easier to spread with either a rice paddle or if your hands are slightly wet. Place some bulgogi, spinach, carrots, and kimchi on the rice – place it all close together on the rice, near the side closest to you. Roll up the nori gently using the bamboo mat (this can take some practice if you’ve never made sushi or kimbap before). Unroll the bamboo mat. Continue with the remaining 4-5 sheets of nori and fillings.

You can either slice the kimbap into 1/2 inch thick slices and store in a container or wrap each un-cut roll in plastic film. Store in the fridge until ready to eat. Kyle preferred his sliced, I liked mine unsliced.

Makes 5-6 full rolls.


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