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. rocknchick Rockford, IL joined 12/14 & has 11 comments

    I made these once before and they turned out pretty well. I tried again last night, really late. There ended up being three rolls that I cut into circles. My daughter took some for her lunch and packed four or five in the fridge. I had enough ingredients left to make a bowl of “deconstructed gimbap”- rice, egg strips, crab meat chunks, spinach, radish and the three circles that fell apart, cut into pieces. I heated it up for lunch today and it was really good. Just wanted to share that if you’re a poor planner like me, a bowl of it all tastes just as good. :)

  2. Hello maangchi ^^ tonight i just followed your kimbap recipe but i used pork but still so delicious and my korean husband like it so much ^^. Im so happy now thank you so much for your delicious recipes ^^.

  3. ParkChan joined 8/15 & has 1 comment

    Hello maangchi,
    Can I use crabstick instead of beef? And can I add kimchi too? The beef here is very very expensive. And my friends even prefer crabstick than beef. What do you think? Bye maangchi.

  4. I made these the day before yesterday and everybody loved them! I added fish cake and ham instead of beef because beef is so expensive where I live. My 20 month old daughter ate them very happily. Thanks Maangchi!!!

    See full size image

  5. Pmumea United States joined 3/15 & has 2 comments

    It says rice recipe here, but I don’t see a link. Am I missing something?

  6. helenlkb Atlanta, GA joined 3/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi! Most of the knives I have are now a bit dull due to time and it makes it hard to cut the kimbap. Do you have a knife you recommend for cutting things like kimbap? Thank you!

  7. malmi perera sri lanka joined 2/15 & has 9 comments

    Hi maangchi, I followed your recipe exactly and made kimchi they tasted sooo delicious. Thanks maangchi for sharing your recipes and most importantly your easy to fllow step by step videos and now won’t to make this lovely gimbap but I can’t find seaweed perpar in (sri lanka)our food shop. Please tell me what is the substitute for the seaweed perpar. I’m waiting your answer. Thank you very much. I love Korea.

  8. hanyasayang Australia joined 2/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I followed your recipe exactly and made this gimbap yesterday. They tasted sooo yummy and my housemates said the same thing too. I showed the pictures of the rolled and cut gimbap to my Korean friend and supervisor who is also Korean and they said if they didn’t know I made it, they would have thought it was made by a Korean :)). Thanks, Maangchi for sharing your recipes and most importantly your easy to follow step by step videos. Looking forward to our next posts :)

  9. Retno Bloomington joined 1/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    Just found your awesome website! Thank you so much for all your yummy recipes! I made your home-made chicken noodle soup… so delicious! My husband and daughter enjoyed it so much! Now I want to make this gimbap. DO you think it is okay to use the roasted seaweed like sushi nori? Thanks again!

  10. esther1234 Malaysia joined 1/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! I tried making gimbap for the first time according to your recipe and it was a success! I was wondering can I make it at night and leave it overnight in fridge so that I can eat it the next day?

  11. kimachine Kuala Lumpur joined 12/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    This is my first time joined & i really loves your teaching method for this Kimbap.
    I will try out this weekend for my X’mas potluck.
    Hope it is as tasty as yours! :)

  12. marikel france joined 12/14 & has 4 comments

    Maangchi hello!!
    First, thank you for this delicious receipe!
    I tried to make it and when I rolled the gim it wouldnt stay closed… I am used to make california sushi using the same technique and I never had this problem before.
    I think it is due to the sesame oil in the rice which didn’t allow the gim to stick well. Or maybe because I used japanese gim and not korean one, is it different?
    Do you have a sollution for me?
    Thank you Maanchi!

  13. jfore82 Marshall, NC joined 12/14 & has 1 comment

    All of your recipes make my mouth water. I am so glad I found your page and can try wonderful Korean dishes at home now. I have a question about the gimbap. I want to make it for a party can it be made the day ahead and if so what’s the best way to store it or wrap it.

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  14. Doobu California joined 11/14 & has 2 comments

    안녕하세요 망치씨 how long do you think it would take a first timer to make five rolls?

  15. lohil21 Singapore/France joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Hello I tried making the kimbap and I got to say its really so tasty and just so wonderful. Thank you so much for the awesome recipes im going to try them out one by one ^^
    Everyone loved it at home 😊

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