Spring has come! It’s time for us to make something delicious, pack a lunch box, and go on a picnic.
I can’t fully enjoy any activity or event unless delicious food is on hand. Most Koreans are like this. I may spend one afternoon in Central Park here in New York, but before I do, I need to make gimbap. Packed with some water and an apple, my outing is more exciting knowing that it’s in my bag waiting for me. Oh, don’t forget some napkins and chopsticks!
If you do this, think about me when you unwrap your gimbap and sit down to eat! I’ll give you an imaginary compliment!
Basically, gimbap is a seaweed rice roll made of gim (a sheet of dried seaweed) and bap (rice). So as long as you can roll some rice in gim, you can say: “Check out the gimbap that I made!”
For fillings, you can use chopped kimchi if you’re in a hurry, or make a classic gimbap like I do in this video. This recipe uses many colorful ingredients: carrot, eggs, danmuji, spinach (or cucumber), and beef. It takes a little longer to prepare. You can replace spinach with salted cucumber sticks, carrots with crab sticks (or sliced and sauteed red bell pepper), and beef with sausage or ham.
This recipe is a very authentic, classic style gimbap that I used to eat and make all the time. Gimbap can be made with all kinds of fillings, and I like almost all of them, except for a few like mayonnaise. I like mayonnaise in my potato salad and in my sandwich, but not in my gimbap. I just don’t like the greasy texture.
You may be wondering: “Maangchi, how come you didn’t post this classic gimbap sooner?”
Yes, years ago, I posted my tuna gimbap recipe with a tuna and avocado based filling. I’d been using this recipe for years, even before YouTube was invented, and every time I took it to a party, it was always a big hit. The filling is my own invention – tuna stir-fried with soy sauce, garlic, ground black pepper, and sugar.
So when I wanted to shoot a gimbap video, I chose it because I thought you guys would love it. But I always wanted to do a classic gimbap video too, so here it is!
I’ve been making and eating this classic gimbap for years, much longer than my tuna gimbap. It’s something that my mom used to make for me for my school picnic. Whenever the picnic was announced, the first thing to come into my mind was this delicious gimbap! On that day everyone brings gimbap from home, shares a bite with their friends, and tries to figure out which gimbap tastes better. We sat in the grass on the side of the mountain and shared our gimbap and other snacks like sweet candy, yang-gaeng, dried squid, peanuts, boiled chestnuts, and hard-boiled eggs with salt. Great times!
Many moms also send off their kids with an extra gimbap for their teachers, to express their thanks for the teacher’s hard work. You can imagine, some teachers end up with a lot of gimbap! Because it should be consumed that day, they usually share them with other teachers, or give them to students who didn’t bring their own gimbap. What a touching story.
All right, enough of the long introduction. My stories go on and on when I talk about certain food. : )
This is the recipe, let’s get serious!
Ingredients: (serves 2-3 : 5 rolls)
- 5 sheets of gim (seaweed paper), roasted slightly
- 4 cups cooked rice (the recipe is here, but make with 2 cups of short grain rice instead of 1 cup)
- ½ pound beef skirt steak (or tenderloin, or ground beef)
- 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (about 1 ½ cup)
- 5 strips of yellow pickled radish (use pre-cut danmuji or cut into 8 inch long strips)
- 8 to 10 ounces spinach (1 small bunch), blanched, rinsed in cold water, and strained
- 3 eggs
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown (or white) sugar
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ tablespoons sesame oil
- vegetable oil
- Place freshly made rice in a large, shallow bowl. Gently mix in ½ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons sesame oil over top with a rice scoop or a wooden spoon.
- Let it cool down enough so it’s no longer steaming. Cover and set aside.
- Combine the blanched spinach, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a bowl.
- Mix well by hand and put it on a large platter with the sliced yellow pickled radish.
- Combine the carrot matchsticks with ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix well and let it sweat for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat a pan and add a few drops vegetable oil.
- Squeeze out excess water from the carrot, then saute for about 1 minute. Put it on the platter next to the spinach.
- Trim the fat from the skirt steaks and slice into ¼ inch wide, 3 to 5 inch strips. Put the strips into a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 minced garlic clove, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper,1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown (or white) sugar, and 2 teaspoons sesame oil.
- Mix well by hand.
- Set aside, and let them marinate while we do the egg strips.
- Crack 3 eggs in a bowl and add ¼ teaspoon salt. Beat it with fork and remove the stringy chalaza.
- Drizzle a few drops of oil on a heated 10 to 12 inch non-stick pan. Wipe off the excess with a paper towel so only a thin sheen of oil remains. Turn down the heat to low and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Spread it into a large circle so it fills the pan.
- When the bottom of the egg is cooked, flip it over with a spatula. Remove from the heat and let it cook slowly in the hot pan for about 5 minutes, with the ultimate goal of keeping the egg as yellow as possible, and not brown.
- Cut it into ½ inch wide strips. Put it next to the spinach on the platter.
- Heat up a pan over medium high heat and cook the marinated beef, stirring it with a wooden spoon until well cooked.
- Set aside.
Let’s roll gimbap!
- Place a sheet of gim on a bamboo mat with the shiny side down. Evenly spread about ¾ cup of cooked rice over top of it, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on one side of the gim.
- Place beef, carrot, yellow pickled radish strip, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice.
- Use both hands to roll the mat (along with gim and rice) over the fillings, so one edge of the rice and gim reaches the opposite edge. This centers the fillings in the roll, so they’ll be nicely in the middle when you slice it.
- Grab the mat with both hands and and press it tightly as you continue rolling the gimbap. Push out the mat as you roll, so it doesn’t get wrapped in the gimbap.
- Remove the roll from the mat at the end and set the finished roll aside with the seam down, to seal it nicely.
- Repeat 4 more times with the remaining ingredients.
- Put some sesame oil on the finshed rolls and sprinkle some sesame seeds over top. Cut each roll into ¼ inch bite size pieces with a sharp knife, occasionally wiping it with a wet paper towel or cloth to clean the starch off and to ease cutting.
- Put it on a plate and serve immediately or pack it in a lunchbox.