The classic kimbap filling formula is carrot, spinach, pickled radish, egg, and some kind of protein. It’s important to remove a lot of the moisture from the fillings, because excess moisture will make the kimbap more easily fall apart. Korean pickled radish is the trickiest to find in the US. They’re common in Korean grocery stores. Alternatively you can also make your own. Recipe coming soon!
On a roll
It is possible to roll the kimbap without a rolling mat. However the mat makes the roll a very even thickness, and bamboo mats are cheap. An alternative is using a clean kitchen towel plus plastic wrap. Folding the towel on itself will increase the stiffness of the towel, adding support to the roll similar to a bamboo mat, but not as good obviously.
3 sheets seaweed paper (gim)
1 can spam
2 ½ cups fresh cooked short grain rice
½ a large carrot
10-12 oz spinach (about 1 grocery store bunch)
3 garlic cloves
3 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 large eggs
3 strips pickled radish (danmuji)
Salt to taste
2 tsp neutral oil
- Prep cooking
- Place cooked rice in a bowl, mix in a small pinch of salt and 1 tsp of sesame oil. Cover and set aside to cool.
- Julienne carrots and mix with a small pinch of salt. Set aside to sweat out moisture.
- In the meantime finely mince or grate the garlic. Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and soak in an ice water bath to preserve color and stop overcooking. Once cool, remove from the bath and squeeze excess water out. Season with a small pinch of salt, 1 tsp sesame oil, and the garlic. Set aside.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and season with ¼ tsp salt. Beat until smooth. Heat a nonstick pan on medium-low heat with a tsp of neutral oil. Add the egg and let cook until most of the egg is set, about three minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until the egg is fully cooked. Set on a cutting board and cut into half inch strips. Set aside
- In the same pan cut spam into thick strips and fry on medium heat until crispy brown, about 3 minutes each side. Once fully browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Finally, add the carrot and saute until slightly softened, about a minute.
- On the rolling mat, place seaweed smooth side down, with the ridges running parallel to the mat. You can optionally add plastic wrap between the seaweed and mat for hygiene purposes.
- Spread an even thin layer of rice on the bottom 2/3rds of the seaweed. In the middle of the rice, place ingredients across in a neat, tight pile. Using both hands on the mat, roll up the seaweed to the edge of the rice. Squeeze the mat with both hands to neatly form the kimbap.
- Pull the mat out, and roll the excess seaweed to seal. The rice should have enough moisture to form the seal, if not then brush lightly with water.
- Repeat steps to form two more rolls. To finish, optionally brush the outside with sesame oil to add a shiny exterior.
- Cut the kimbap into half inch rounds.
- To ensure smooth pieces, wipe the knife with a damp towel in between cuts.