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What Is Gimbap?

Gimbap is a beloved Korean dish, featuring seasoned rice and various fillings rolled in seaweed, sliced into bite-sized pieces. It's a versatile, portable meal often enjoyed at picnics and parties. Each roll is a harmony of flavors, from tangy pickled radish to savory beef. Intrigued by how these ingredients come together? Discover the art of making Gimbap with us.
Kathy Dowling
Kathy Dowling

Originating in the coastal city of Chungmu, Korea, Chungmu gimbap or gimbap is a light meal that include rice, vegetables, and protein rolled in gim , or seaweed. In its earliest form, it was simply a seasoned rice rolled in gim, but it has since evolved, now greatly resembling sushi and served with pickled Korean radish and baby octopus. Also known as kimbap, the dish has changed since its original form, and popular variations include nude and samgak. Gimbap is thought to have originated from a Korean dish called bokssam, which means "lucky wraps." Bokssam is made by wrapping vegetable leafs around cooked meat, and the dish is eaten with a spicy sauce, such as ssamjang, which is made from typical Korean ingredients, including gochujang and doenjang.

Making gimbap involves several steps. Short grain white rice is first seasoned with salt and oil, and then fresh or roasted vegetables such as cucumbers and carrots are placed on top of the rice, along with a protein, such as fish. The dish is made by wrapping the rice, vegetables, and protein in dried, pressed seaweed called gim, which is made from laver, an edible type of algae. It is often served with kimchi, a seasoned vegetable dish from Korea, and danmuji, a popular pickle made from a Japanese radish called daikon.

White rice is used in gimbap.
White rice is used in gimbap.

The dish has transformed greatly from its earliest form, with popular variations including nude and samgak. Nude gimbap originated from France and is made with the seaweed on the inside of the roll, exposing the rice on the outside. Samgak is made in the shape of a triangle and is very popular throughout South Korea. Due to the wide range of ingredients used, gimbap takes on many different flavors.

Gimbap has evolved into a dish that now resembles sushi.
Gimbap has evolved into a dish that now resembles sushi.

Usually served at lunch time, the gimbap rolls are cut into colorful bite-size pieces resembling sushi, making it a light meal that is very portable. It is a popular snack during outdoor recreational activities, such as picnics, and is often referred to as Korean sushi. It differs, however, in that it is not usually made with raw fish and the rice is flavored with sesame oil rather than sweet rice-wine vinegar, which is used to make Japanese sushi.

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    • White rice is used in gimbap.
      By: Vadim Balantsev
      White rice is used in gimbap.
    • Gimbap has evolved into a dish that now resembles sushi.
      By: Stanislav Komogorov
      Gimbap has evolved into a dish that now resembles sushi.