After I came back from Korea, I missed the local food so much that I made kimbap every week, 3 weeks in a row. Partially, it was because I had bought gochujang from my trip to Korea and found danmuji at Isetan in KLCC. With a bamboo sushi rolling mat ready at home, I was ready to embark on a kimbap rolling adventure!
Whenever I ate kimbap in Korea, it always had danmuji, the Korean pickled radish so I believe that it’s the one ingredient that makes kimbap authentic along with a splash of sesame oil brushed on the seaweed. I always seem to forget the sesame oil brushing step.
The danmuji in Isetan is an entire radish at RM15. Expensive for one radish. I’d probably DIY it the next time I need it. It will probably last me 3 more rounds of kimbap though I’d looking for a different usage for it now that I’m quite sick of kimbap.
This bibigo brand gochujang that I bought at Lotte Mart was on sale and I’ve not been able to find the exact bottle online. Here’s something similar on Amazon.
Excited to use the gochujang, my first attempt at kimbap had:
- Spicy gochujang pork
- Purple carrot, cut into long strips then lightly fried in some oil and sesame oil
- Japanese cucumber, cut into long strips
- Fried eggs, cut into strips
I didn’t have any danmuji with me at this point in time so I decided to forego it instead of searching high and low for it.
In the gochujang marinade was 1 1/2 tablespoons of gochujang, a splash of soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil and a tsp of chilli flakes. I should have put in more chilli flakes and a little more soy sauce as the rest of the fillings were rather bland.
This is a 200g of pork chop cut into strips then mixed into the marinade. I chopped up a garlic clove and fried them till they were fragrant before frying the pork together with the garlic. The pork will spit oil while cooking so I suggest putting a lid on it until it stops spitting.
My first attempt at rolling kimbap, I would say was rather disastrous. I used seaweed that had cracked in a few places so the rice was sticking out at a few spots and I kept hesitating at that very first roll around the fillings so some of the ingredients were falling out. Also I started out with a knife that was not so sharp so the seaweed tore even more when it got stuck to the knife. I only had purple carrot at hand and it left weird, unappetizing stains on the rice.
A rather disappointing start to my adventure, sadly.
Serious Eats, thekitchn, Maangchi and Beyond Kimchi shows awesome kimbap rolling techniques but I believe that the most important component that’s needed is confidence and not to hesitate. It was due to hesitation that my kimbap roll ended up with loose fillings.
Not demotivated, I was determined to try again the following week and there was vast improvement this time around.
This attempt had:
- Eggs beaten with some gochujang then fried and cut into strips
- Carrot, cut into long strips then lightly fried in some oil and sesame oil
- Japanese cucumber, cut into long strips
- Crabsticks, cut into long strips
- And finally, danmuji – my kimbap is now authentic!
This time, the kimbap turned out smaller because I didn’t stuff them with too much filling. I also gripped the roll firmly while rolling and everything turned out tight and nice. I was surprised at how the rolls turned out pretty just like that.
The danmuji made a lot of difference to the taste of the kimbap as it was sour and salty and alongside the gochujang egg, it turned out to be a nice combination.
With a level up in confidence, I tried making them at LC’s.
This time it was:
- Spicy gochujang pork with additional soy sauce, cayenne pepper and Thai chilli powder for a spicy kick
- Carrot, cut into long strips then lightly fried in some oil and sesame oil, again
- Japanese cucumber, cut into long strips, again
- And danmuji, again
The rolling was evidently not as neat (the fillings are not in the center!) but the taste was much better due to the flavorful pork. There was a comment that I should have seasoned the rice. When I’m in the mood for more kimbap experimentation, I’ll remember to flavor the rice and oil the seaweed.
I have loads of seaweed now so I might consider venturing into the Japanese maki realm instead.