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. Lisatlh Singapore joined 11/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi~

    I habe tried your traditional kimchi and we love it! Now im back to try other recipe of yours!

    can i replace beef with pork instead?

    If yes, which part of pork will be good for this kimbap?

    I cant find pickled radish here can i subsitue with japanese cucumbers as well?

  2. arlousamac Philippines joined 1/17 & has 1 comment

    Thank you for your recipe! My family and friends love my gimbap! Cheers to you and hope to see, know and read more of your delicious recipes! All the love! xx

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  3. duday76 USA joined 12/16 & has 9 comments

    Hi maangchi! My family loves it! My kids brought it at school and shared it. And they all love it. Thank you!

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  4. pyang Usa joined 12/16 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi,
    This has been my go-to kimbap recipe and I love it! Whenever I eat this, I tend to crave some kind of soup to go with it but I never know what would be good with kimbap. Do you have any recommendations for soups that would pair well with kimbap? Please share! And thank you for your delicious recipes!

  5. fads21 Germany joined 10/16 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi!
    I really love your receipes, but never made an account before today :)
    I really want to make these gorgeous gimbap, but first i wanted to ask you how many days after preparation can you keep them in the fridge ? (i do not own a freezer, but anyways i’m sure this would be bad for the gimbap).
    Have a great day!!!!!!!

  6. wasabipeas Cambridge, MA joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Love the recipe, Maangchi! You made our night! We had great times with friends, great food, and great jokes from Maangchi! Xo

  7. Asianwaterdrop0422 California joined 6/16 & has 6 comments

    I made gimbap today, I didn’t follow your recipe I simply made it with some leftover shredded soy braised pork shoulder and made all the various things my husband and I eat with it. So my gimbap had pork, egg, danmuji, spinach side dish, lightly cooked carrots, onions cooked in leftover braising liquid from the pork that I keep in the freezer, lettuce and thin slices of Serrano pepper. I also completely misplaced my bamboo mat so I rolled my freehand. It was a lot of fun and it came out beautiful and delicious. I also added lime juice to my sushi rice. I love your website and YouTube channel and they always give me great inspiration to cook and handy idea for using leftovers.

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  8. Chantho Cambodia joined 7/16 & has 2 comments

    Thanks Maangchi! I made 3 rolls of kimbap last week. However, I don’t know how to store the remaining seaweed paper and it turns not crispy and shinny as the first use. Could you please give me some advice? Many thanks.

  9. Basoma Kuwait joined 4/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi, Maangchi
    I have one question about seaweed, now I’m going to supermarket to get gimbap ingredients , if I bought roasted seaweed, still need to roasting it when I making gimbap?

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

      There are 2 types of roasted (toasted) gim sold at a Korean grocery store. One is not oiled and the other is oiled. You should choose not oiled gim to make gimbap. Otherwise it will be too crispy to roll. “…still need to roasting it when I making gimbap?” You don’t need to toast gim again.
      I always buy untoasted gim and toast it slightly before rolling gimbap.

  10. magda Poland joined 4/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi! I’ve done my first gimbap. Inside was delicious but I think that my yaki nori was bad it was uneatable!. I’ve tried to eat it but it was like a chewing gum. Is it normal? or I’ve done something wrong?

  11. adelini Romania joined 3/16 & has 4 comments

    Hello! Japanese rice was, especially for sushi, maybe it was too thin seaweed. In my country there was nothing Korean, to try something may use a Chinese or Japanese products.

  12. adelini Romania joined 3/16 & has 4 comments

    Hi! I am very upset, I did everything you said, I have seaweeds Japanese and
    they were broken rolling. went out something good but look bad.
    I love Korean cuisine and I’d like to learn to cook but … I think something is wrong. Adelini

  13. Mommy95 Kentucky joined 2/16 & has 2 comments

    Tried to post picture but would not load.

  14. Fany joined 12/15 & has 20 comments

    Maangchi, will sushi rice be ok for this recipe?

  15. karma joined 1/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maanchi! i am so glad i ran into your website, made my frist kimbab ever!! thank you Mangchi for the delicious recipe. i had to roll with my hand. i added cucumber, crab and sausage, spinach, eggs, carrots and used pork instead of beef! it was the bomb! :D

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