Gimbap Recipe 1: Classic
For Koreans, gimbap is one of those foods that brings back warm and fuzzy memories. The nostalgia likely includes picnics and school field days, where gimbap was nearly essential. It also frequently shows up on birthday party tables. Although gimbap is closely associated with special occasions, it's also an everyday food pretty much seen everywhere, including convenience stores, service stations, cafeterias, and restaurants.
Gimbap has evolved quite a bit over the years. Back in the day when Koreans were poor, it was just seaweed and rice with maybe one vegetable. Today It is much more elaborate and nutritious. Gimbap to Koreans is like sandwiches to North Americans; it's very common, yet never gets old. On top of being delicious, it's nutritious, portable and versatile.
There are an infinite number of variations in gimbap. Sharing gimbap with friends at a school picnic was fun because each family adds a different twist, whether it's a special ingredient, unique shape or size. You can always make your own signature gimbap by adding your favorite ingredients or seasonings, or by making different shapes.
|3 cups||Rice, white short grain 쌀|
|6 sheet||Seaweed for Gimbap (Korean rice roll) 김밥김 (unseasoned)|
|5 oz||Pickled Radish (Dan-mu-ji or Yellow Radish) 단무지|
|2 oz||Burdock Root (Woo Ung) 우엉|
|4 oz||Carrot (large Korean carrot) 당근|
|2 oz||Fishcake, Eomuk or Odeng 어묵(오뎅)|
|4 oz||Spinach 시금치|
|12 oz||Beef 소고기 (optional, ground beef or any cut chopped finely)|
|7 tbs||Soy Sauce (regular) 왜간장|
|3 tbs||Sugar 설탕|
|2⅔ tbs||Sesame Oil 참기름|
|pinch||Black Pepper 후추|
|1¼ tsp||Garlic (minced) 다진 마늘|
|1 tbs||Vinegar 식초|
|1½ tsp||Mul Yeot / Malt (Maltose) Syrup 물엿 (or Jo-cheong/Rice Syrup, can use sugar instead)|
|1½ tsp||Sesame Seeds 깨|
|⅔ tsp||Salt 소금|
|1 tsp||Vegetable Oil 식용유|
*The default serving of this recipe is set to 3. For this recipe, 3 servings refer to about 6 rolls of gimbap. Please note that ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
- 1 bamboo mat for rolling
- 1 small to medium pot or rice cooker for rice
- 1 large bowl to mix up rice
- 1 small pot to blanch spinach
- 1 sauce pan for braising burdock root/fish cake
- 1 small to medium pan for sautéing carrots
- 1 small to medium non-stick pan for eggs
Buy gimbap ingredients online here.
Optional Ingredients and Substitution
- You can omit beef or use shiitake mushrooms instead.
- There is no set of rules for gimbap ingredients. You can substitute most ingredients with your favorite ingredients. However, danmuji (yellow pickled radish) is key to authentic Korean gimbap. Season the ingredients with sesame oil and either salt or soy sauce unless it's already salty without any seasoning (e.g., crab meat).
Whatever you use, ensure they don't produce liquid. The liquid will go through the rice and leak out or make the roll soggy. Remove moisture by squeezing with hands or by pat-drying with clean towel. If you must use moist ingredients, place them on top of perilla leaves or something else that acts as a barrier between the rice and the ingredient.
Most common ingredients used in gimbap in Korea include danmuji (yellow pickled radish), spinach, cucumber, carrot, perilla leaf, burdock root, crab meat, fish cake, egg, beef, cheese, ham, beef, kimchi, tuna mixed with mayo, etc.
Good to Know
Size and flavor of gimbap
You can make various shape and size of gimbap.
To make gimbap smaller and also more flavorful, make the rice layer as thin as possible.
You can also decrease the size by cutting 2-3" off of the seaweed.
Gimbap tastes best when it's freshly made. In room temperature, it can last 4-6 hours. In a hot summer day, it may only last an hour or two.
The leftover ingredients may last a day or two with an exception of seasoned spinach. Make sure you don't put all the ingredients in the same container or at least use cling wrap or aluminum foil as dividers so they are not touching each other. Seasoned spinach is delicious but doesn't last as long as other ingredients. For this reason, some people prefer cucumber over spinach in their gimbap.
More questions? Please leave your questions below in the comment section. We will do our best to answer as soon as we can.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.
1. Prepare rice
Wash 3 cups of short grain rice twice and drain all the water. Add water (3 cups for electronic rice cooker or 4 cups for regular pot) to the rice and add 2 (2”X2”) pieces of kelp in the water. After 30 minutes, remove kelp but leave rice and water. Kelp water apparently prevents rice from drying up and helps rice stick to the seaweed better. But, you can omit kelp if you don’t have any.
Wash & drain
Add 3 cups water (for rice cooker)
Soak 2 pieces kelp Remove minkelp
3. Marinate beef
Marinate 0.8 lb (350g) of beef with 3 teaspoons of regular soy sauce, 1½ teaspoons of sugar, 3 teaspoons of sesame oil, a pinch of black pepper and ⅛ teaspoon of minced garlic. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
0.8 lb (350g) beef
In the fridge
at least 30 min
4. Prepare burdock root
Peel and rinse 2.5 oz (70 g) of burdock root. Cut into thin strips.
Peel & Rinse
Cut into strips
5. Soak burdock root
Soak the burdock root strips in 1 cup water and 1 tbs vinegar for 30 minutes.
Soak burdock root
6. Blanch burdock root
Boil 2 cups of water. Blanch the burdock roots in boiling water for 3 minutes.
Boil 2 cups water
Blanch burdock root 3 min
7. Cut fish cake
Cut fish cake into ½” thick strips.
Cut fish cake
8. Braise burdock root & fish cake
In a sauce pan, mix ¾ cup water, 6 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2½ tablespoons of sugar and add fish cake and burdock root in the pan. If you are cooking a larger amount, you probably want to cook fish cake and burdock root separately using the same seasoning. Cook uncovered on medium heat.
Med Heat 7 min
9. Braise II
When the liquid is almost gone, add 2 teaspoons of mulyeot (Korean malt syrup) or jocheong (rice syrup). If you don’t have mulyeot, just add a little more sugar or sugar substitute.
10. Prepare spinach
Cut the roots off of spinach and wash thoroughly.
Cut off roots
11. Blanch spinach
Boil 5 cups of water. Blanch in the boiling water for a minute. Rinse and gently squeeze out water.
Boil 5 cups water
Blanch spinach 1 min
Rinse & squeeze water out
Season spinach with ⅛ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of sesame oil and ⅛ teaspoon of minced garlic. Mix well by hand.
13. Prepare carrot
Peel and rinse a carrot. Cut 3.5oz (100g) of carrot (about ⅓ large Korean carrot) into long ¼” thick strips. If you are using smaller carrots, just cut into shorter strips. You will just have to add a few more when making a roll.
Peel & rinse
14. Cook carrot
Preheat a pan with 1 tsp vegetable oil on medium heat. Sauté carrots on medium heat for 2 min or until they are cooked (not crunchy any more).”
Med Heat 2 min
15. Prepare eggs
Beat 3 eggs with an added pinch of salt and black pepper. Preheat a pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil on medium heat for a min.
Pour the beat eggs and cook until all the eggs are fully cooked. Let it cool on the side.
Beat 3 eggs
16. Cut eggs
Once the eggs have cooled, cut into ½” thick strips.
into ½” thick strips
17. Cut danmuji
Rinse danmuji yellow pickled radish) with water. Pat-dry with paper towel. Cut 5oz (150g) of danmuji into ½” thick strips.
Pat-dry with paper towel
Cut 5oz (150g) danmuji
into ½” thick strips
18. Cook beef
Preheat a pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil on high heat for a min. Cook marinated beef until it’s fully cooked (lightly browned outside).
19. Roast seaweed (optional)
If the seaweed you got is not pre-roasted, you can roast in a pan. Roasting removes dampness and fishy smell from the seaweed. Cook each side of the seaweed in a pan on medium heat for a few seconds only. Do not over-cook. The seaweed will get crunchy and break apart. Do not use any oil.
Cook each side seaweed
in a pan
Med Heat a few seconds
20. Season rice
Season cooked rice with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Gently mix the rice with a spatula without squashing the rice. Mix it around until it’s cool enough to touch with bare hands. You want the rice to be a bit warm when you are making the roll.
21. Spread rice on seaweed
Place the seaweed on a bamboo mat, rough side up. Thinly spread rice over the seaweed, leaving a very small area at the bottom (place this side close to yourself) and a larger area on top. The size of the larger area and the thickness of the rice layer can vary depending on how big you want the gimbap to be. See tips above for more details.
22. Add ingredients
Place the most loose ingredients like beef at the bottom. You can skip beef or use mushrooms for a vegetarian version. Add all the ingredients in the center. If the ingredients are shorter than the length of the seaweed, place a few to ensure the pieces are overlapping at the ends.
Place all ingredients
in the center
23. Roll I
Tightly roll the seaweed so that the end close to you meets the other end of the rice layer, using your fingers to secure the ingredients. Do not roll all the way. Gently squeeze along the roll a few times.
Roll the seaweed
(two ends of the rice layer meet)
24. Roll II
Bring the whole roll up to the end of the bamboo mat. This time roll all the way. Gently squeeze along the roll a few times.
Roll to the end of the mat
Roll all the way
25. Coat with sesame oil
Using your hand or a brush, lightly coat the roll with sesame oil.
Prepare a clean sharp knife and a clean wet towel. Wipe both sides of the knife with the wet towel. Start cutting the roll into ½” thick sections. Do not press down too hard with the knife as the roll will be crushed. Use front and back motion repeatedly when cutting just like cutting bread.
27. Slice danmuji
Slice danmuji (yellow pickled radish) into ⅛” thick half moon shape to serve it on the side with gimbap.
⅛” thick half moon shape
Arrange on a plate or in a lunch box. Serve with Danmuji on the side. Enjoy!
Serve on a plate
with danmuji on the side