Kimbap – It’s How We Roll

Growing up in San Francisco’s Richmond District, I was exposed to kimbap, Korean style sushi, at an early age. I would skip down to the local Korean market and for a few dollars, make off with a tray of delicious, sesame oil scented kimbap.

I have a fondness for these Korean rice rolls, which are frequently filled with seasoned rice, marinated beef (bulgogi), fishcake, cooked egg, carrots, spinach, daikon, cucumbers, even kimchi. When my friend Mary – who was born in Korea and raised in Southern California – offered to teach me how to make them, I jumped at the opportunity.

Mary and her older son Christian came over in the late afternoon for our kimbap lesson. Christian and Caleb are buddies and met through Sadie’s childcare program. The boys ran out into the backyard, while Mary and I prepped the kimbap ingredients, some of which we had prepared in advance. Once the ingredients were laid out and we had cooked the bulgogi (which Mary purchased raw and marinated at a local Korean market in Oakland), we got to rolling.

This is how we roll

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As we assembled our kimbap, Mary offered “I heard once that the Japanese eat with their eyes, Chinese eat with their stomachs, and Korean’s eat with their mouths.” She was referring to how much Korean’s value good flavor in their food. I then added “…and Jews, we just eat and eat and eat!” We laughed.

The boys came into the kitchen for a brief lesson in kimbap making and each took turns adding ingredients to a roll, which we then helped them roll up in a bamboo sushi mat. When we brought them some neatly sliced pieces of kimbap, they quickly gobbled them up and ran back to their game playing in the backyard. I don’t think Caleb grasped just how excited I was to be making this exotic snack from my childhood. That’s okay.

This was a fabulous cross-cultural exchange that I enjoyed immensely. Thanks to Mary for the kimbap lesson. If you want a helpful visual of a kimbap recipe, just click here.


10 thoughts on “Kimbap – It’s How We Roll

  1. Anya, the kimbap in the blue plate look like a painting – another great “column”! Your mom and my dad are smiling down on you!
    Cousin Sue : – )

  2. Such beautiful photos! My favorite snack is kimchi wrapped in nori. Soooo hungry right now. And so jealous. Would love to spend a day cooking with you. Caleb’s got it so good!

      • Shockingly, I can actually get kimchi and nori at my local grocery store. options have improved since I first moved here. But thank you for the offer! You can send me a fresh kimbap roll, though! Or beef wellington. Ooooooh, or some of your homemade mac and cheese! Or maybe a cake made from scratch with chocolate frosting, if Matato is bored. Oh the meals you’ve made me.

      • I know that your world food options were seriously lacking when you first moved. So happy to hear that you can get some exotic basics. You personal beef wellington is waiting for you, along with a glass of red, and a slice of chocolate cake. Can’t wait to cook for you again.

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