Classic gimbap

Gimbap 김밥

Hi everybody!

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!

Korean seaweed rice rolls (Gimbap: 김밥)

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 imitation 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 (sometimes called “nori” from Japanese)
  • 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 1½ 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 kosher salt
  • 2½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • vegetable oil



  1. Place freshly made rice in a large, shallow bowl. Gently mix in ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil over top with a rice scoop or a wooden spoon.
  2. Let it cool down enough so it’s no longer steaming. Cover and set aside.


gimbap spinach

  1. Combine the blanched spinach, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil in a bowl.
  2. Mix well by hand and put it on a large platter with the sliced yellow pickled radish.


  1. Combine the carrot matchsticks with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well and let it sweat for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat a pan and add a few drops vegetable oil.
  2. Squeeze out excess water from the carrot, then saute for about 1 minute. Put it on the platter next to the spinach.

gimbap carrot


  1. 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 toasted sesame oil.
    gimbap seasoned beef
  2. Mix well by hand.
  3. Set aside, and let them marinate while we do the egg strips.


  1. Crack 3 eggs in a bowl and add ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Beat it with fork and remove the stringy chalaza.
  2. 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.
    gimbap egg filling
  3. 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.
  4. Cut it into ½ inch wide strips. Put it next to the spinach on the platter.

kimbap fillings

Finish steaks:

  1. Heat up a pan over medium high heat and cook the marinated beef, stirring it with a wooden spoon until well cooked.
    beef filling for gimbap
  2. Set aside.

Let’s roll gimbap!

  1. 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.
  2. Place beef, carrot, yellow pickled radish strip, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice.
    gimbap making
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    rolling gimbaprolling gimbap rolling gimbap
  5. Remove the roll from the mat at the end and set the finished roll aside with the seam down, to seal it nicely.
  6. Repeat 4 more times with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Put some toasted 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.
    Gimbap rolls
  8. Put it on a plate and serve immediately or pack it in a lunchbox.

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  1. quattrocinco roxas city capiz joined 10/14 & has 2 comments


    I would like to ask if I don’t have spinach? what will I replace it with? We don’t have spinach in our place.. Also the yellow radish.. =( I hope you could help me on this.. Thank you.. =)

  2. sarahsalo Amsterdam joined 10/14 & has 3 comments

    Heeey maangchi,
    Is it possible to substitute the yellow radish with pickles?
    Xx sarah

  3. Luppa Belgium joined 8/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi yesterday I watched this video and today I made already ! Just very nice!

  4. charisseanae Doha, Qatar joined 8/14 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi annyeonghaseyo (^_^)

    I’ve been watching this video for 3 weeks now…hahaha

    and finally i have my ingredients (wohoooo) i bought the pickled radish last time at the one and only Korean food centre here in Doha.

    i will try it later…wish me luck (^_^)

    oopss btw can i use ordinary jasmine rice

  5. VApoppygirl Colonial Heights, Virginia joined 6/14 & has 2 comments

    My mother and I both love Japanese sushi so when I showed her this recipe she was so excited to try gimbap :) I only have to find gim now so we can make it together. Thank you so much fro posting this :)

  6. So for 5 cups of cooked rice do you start out with 2 cups uncooked rice? Thanks, looks delicious.

  7. peonygirl portland, oregon joined 8/09 & has 51 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I am going to make this tomorrow for a potluck at my daughter’s school. My question is, can I use the already roasted and seasoned seaweed? I haven’t’ had good luck roasting my own in a pan- I don’t have gas stove. The problem I see is that the already roasted might be too thin? What do you think?



    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      Hi lisa,
      I’m so excited for your gimbap! I hope your gimbap is one of the most popular dish at the potluck. : ) I never use oiled (seasoned) and roasted gim for gimbap because it will be too crispy to roll and the gim will break. I would use unseasoned gim. And roast the gim slightly just as I did in the video before using. Good luck and let us know how the party goes.

  8. Nathalie Belgium joined 5/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi, this is exactly what my stepmother (who is Korean from Seoul) taught me to do, but it seems I’m still not able to make firm and pretty rolls!
    I’m using the same little mat as you are, and I feel I’m doing pretty much the same as you are showing ….
    I ‘m beginning to become very frustrated. :-(
    I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong!
    Would you have tricks maybe for me?? ;-)

  9. Shanory Lima joined 2/14 & has 2 comments

    I´m gonna make this for my birthday! Thank you, Maangchi!!! Hugs!!!

  10. Elaix Czech Republic joined 1/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, thank you for a great recipe!
    I wanted to ask you, how long will the kimbap last? Is it okay to leave it for another morning in a lunchbox in a fridge?
    Thank youu & wish you all the best ^^

  11. intan Johor joined 4/14 & has 1 comment

    I’ve always wanted to try korean food! tteokbokki, kimbab, bibimbap awwww i just want to try some of it!

  12. Hungrystorm united states joined 4/14 & has 1 comment

    how would you make this with ground beef? :)

  13. mrsbee03 near Seattle, WA joined 4/14 & has 1 comment

    Ooohh, my mouth is watering! I LOVE gimbap! When you were done making them on the video, I wanted to reach in and grab a piece and gobble it down! Looks so yummy. Thanks for the great video on how to make it. 😊😊😊😊

  14. Lisa Cali! joined 5/12 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!
    My mom used to make this for me when I was a kid during the summertime when I stayed with her and my stepdad. One of my all-time favs! I am going to try to make some this weekend! How many hours can the rolls last if I make them for a long road trip? Also what brand of rice do you use?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      “One of my all-time favs! ” not only you but also all Koreans, I guess.
      Gimbap is most delicious right after it’s made.
      “How many hours can the rolls last if I make them for a long road trip?”
      The taste and flavor will be ok up to several hours.

  15. stefansky99 Los Angeles, CA joined 1/14 & has 4 comments

    Oh my God! Maangchi, why did you not publish this recipe much sooner. You could have saved me countless hours making Sushi. In my household, Gimbap is replacing Japanese sushi. The steak could be replaced with chicken. pork, shrimp, crab meat or anything you want.

    Maangchi, thank you for a great recipe!!

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