Kimbap: Don't Call It Sushi

I can eat more Korean food in one sitting than any other type of cuisine. Specifically, my mom's cooking.

I'm not talking about second helpings here. I mean I can eat vats of her spicy stews, bowls upon bowls of her japchae, (it really is the best), every kind of banchan she makes and of course homemade kimchi with everything. Her cooking brings me comfort and joy. And I'm lucky enough that she lives close by so I can eat it all the time. I'm spoiled, I know.

So it's only fitting that for my inaugural post for "What I Ate," I praise the simple yet deeply satisfying food called kimbap.

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My mom made for our family recently and it was so good we fought over the last bites. Kimbap translates to seaweed rice. It basically consists of steamed rice, a variety of vegetables, a little marinated beef, all rolled up in seaweed paper and cut into rounds. My mom makes it in traditional style and includes carrots, spinach, danmuji (pickled yellow radish), beef and sliced egg. She does use brown rice instead of white. It's healthier and equally delicious.

Kimbap is often confused as sushi because it's cut like Japanese maki, ie: California rolls, which I love, by the way. But this dish is decidedly Korean. It was a quintessential staple of Korean lunchboxes and picnics, and is now sold at street markets and restaurants throughout the country.

It has gained popularity in the US too. I've seen some interesting variations of kimbap popping up at stores in our area -- kimbap stuffed with tuna salad, salami and sausage, calamari and even cheese (gross). I'm sticking the original version. Really, you could add any number of your favorite ingredients and call it kimbap. But it will never be as good as mom's.

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