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The more I learn about various countries, I am reminded that culture is constantly changing. Sacred traditions, even those practiced for thousands of years, are replaced by new customs within a century--sometimes in a decade! These alterations may occur in an organic or abrupt manner. New practices may sneak into an increasingly fast-paced society. Diversity in lifestyle give birth to subcultures. A nation colonizes countries both neighboring and distant, introducing their cuisine and language. The addition of imported culture and subtraction of domestic culture creates a hybrid culture.
The latter was the case with kimbap and sushi. Multiple sources say the concept of sushi was brought to Korea during the Japanese rule in the early 1900s. Which may explain why kimbap resembles the futomaki, a type of sushi roll.
Think of kimbap and sushi as siblings more than twins: similar in appearance yet unique in personality. For one, the white rice in both rolls are treated differently. The rice in sushi is vinegared. The term "sushi" refers to this sour flavor, not the fish. If sushi's rice does not contain vinegar, it is not sushi it seems? The white rice in kimbap is traditionally seasoned with sesame oil. Health-conscious Koreans use brown rice, forbidden rice and quinoa instead.
Both types of rolls use dried seaweed sheets. While sushi's seaweed is kept plain, kimbap's seaweed can also remain plain or be brushed on with sesame oil.
As mentioned in KWOW episode 82, the typical sushi roll contains raw fish. Thus must be consumed fresh. The common kimbap roll contains vegetables (i.e. carrots, pickled radish, spinach) and a protein or two (beef, eggs, fishcakes, imitation crab meat). But Koreans love to customize their kimbap with all kinds of ingredients, including kimchi, ham, KBBQ, mayonnaise, etc. Take your kimbap on today's road trip and enjoy it even tomorrow!
People tell me that sushi was traditionally eaten with hands, particularly in high-end restaurants. Nowadays sushi is eaten with chopsticks, except for the hand rolls and such. Kimbap is also eaten with chopsticks in restaurant situations, but popularly enjoyed with hands. Kimbap is a common lunchtime food, one that students and office workers alike bring from home--most likely handmade by their mothers and wives. I've heard that sushi is traditionally reserved for special occasions. Another observation: while sushi is seen as an art and created in solitude, kimbap is casual and can be rolled in the company of rambunctious ajoomas, middle-aged Korean ladies.
Kimbap or sushi? Which one should you eat tonight? If you like raw fish, enjoy sushi. If you prefer a warmer dish, savor kimbap. Depending on the occasion and your cravings, kimbap and sushi will be there for you! For those gluten-free vegans out there, there's something for you as well: the Meatless Kimchi Kimbap recipe. Check out the recipe here.
If you've got some cultural insight to share, feel free to post your observations in the comment section below :)
Wassup hotties. I'm Ramona Champion. Today I shall teach you how to make my meatless, gluten-free, kimchi kimbap. The traditional kimbap requires cooked veggies. The only thing you need to cook in my recipe is the quinoa. I like my veggies raw at their highest nutrient-dense state. Let’s go make our goodies. I’m hungry. And I know you are, too!
- 2 sheets of dry seaweed (aka: nori sheets)
- 5 cups of cooked quinoa (I'm using the Organic Tricolor Quinoa from Trader Joe's)
- 3 sticks of asparagus (sliced into thin strips)
- 1/2 bell pepper, julienned
- 1 big handful of arugula
- 1 small handful of parsley
- 1 ripe, medium-sized avocado, sliced
- 2 cups of your favorite kimchi (mine’s from Café Gratitude)
Makes two rolls.
Prepare your ingredients. Use your ninja skills. First time cooking quinoa? It's similar to preparing rice. I like to use 1 cup of dry quinoa, rinse, put it into a pot and add 1 1/2 cup of water. Put the lid on and turn on the heat. Once the quinoa water boils, bring down the heat and let the quinoa water simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let it cool down. Feel free to fluff up the cooked quinoa with a fork. Do so gently so you don't scratch your cooking device.
Unflatten your bamboo rolling mat on a flat surface. Place 1 sheet of dry seaweed on it. Once your quinoa is at room temperature, put on a thin, even layer on the seaweed (the top 1/3 should be left blank). You should not be able to see the seaweed through the quinoa layer.
Now we set our veggies on the quinoa. The order can be important. I always like to set the structured ingredients first (the most rectangular and solid, such as bell peppers). Then the puffy, airy ingredients (arugula and parsley). Then I layer on the flexible, juicy and heavy ingredients (avocado and kimchi). If you put the puffy ingredients on first, the layered veggies above may collapse.
It's normal to have some ingredients leftover. Please do not be overly ambitious and put them all into your seaweed sheet! Unless you want to eat your kimbap like a taco.
Let's roll! Pick up the bottom end of the seaweed sheet and swerve it inwards. We're creating a cylinder. Make sure the roll is tight enough that the seaweed sheet is hugging the ingredients with just the right amount of love. If the sheet is hugging too hard, your kimbap will explode.
Right before you close your roll, apply water on the top edge of the sheet. Then complete the full cylinder. Using a serrated knife, cut the roll into 1/2" widths. There's no magic number. Just cut the slices so they are bite-size :)
Place your pieces on a plate and enjoy your kimchi kimbap! Have fun decorating your dish.
If your kimchi tastes good, then your rolls will taste good. Think of the kimchi as the superstar and the veggies as the background dancers. I like to dip my pieces into cold-pressed olive oil. Enjoy~