The one thing I miss about Korea is convenience. You can get most kinds of food delivered to you at your door very easily without incurring any additional charges. If an item you are looking for is not deliverable, you just come out of your house and ‘walk’ around for about 10 mins (sometimes less) then you can find what you are looking for most of the time. Kimbap is one of those items you can fetch very easily on your command. But the story is very different here in Australia. If I want Kimbap, then I have to drive to the nearest Korean grocery store for about 10 mins (I consider myself lucky up to this part). However, as Kimbap is a specially delivered item from a different store rather than made by the Korean grocery store itself (like from a rice cake store on this occasion); it doesn’t guarantee that I can get it when I want it. Even then, they only sell one type of Kimbap at a relatively high price (AUD $6.50 for 2 rolls of Kimbap), which has quite an ordinary taste.
I’ve been having some cravings for Kimbap for a while and I wanted extraordinary Kimbap, not just an average Kimbap with imitation crab sticks or unhealthy processed pork meat (ham). A few nights ago, I was browsing through one blog I regularly visit, and then I got all excited suddenly because the blog host, Nami, was using one of my favourite cooking ingredients – Yubu (유부, deep fried tofu pouches) aka Abura Age (油揚げ) in Japanese – and giving some ideas on how it can be used for Japanese cooking. Although she didn’t say anything about Kimbap there, I knew I could use it for my extraordinary Kimbap that I’ve wanted to try for so long!
You can buy Yubu Kimbap (유부김밥) at certain Korean Kimbap stores in Korea. While it’s common, it’s not as common as Tuna, Beef or Cheese Kimbap. (Please correct me if you think I’m wrong.) Yubu Kimbap is also one of the fancy & expensive kinds of Kimbap you can find there, relatively speaking.
I absolutely loved my Yubu Kimbap last night. Yubu has such a nice texture like meat and it was very flavourful. Try this recipe. It doesn’t taste like tofu in any way plus, it’s nothing like the average Kimbap you can find!
Ingredients for 4 servings (yields 7 rolls of Kimbap)
(Prep time: 30 mins, Rolling time: 20 mins)
- For rice
- 5 ½ cups steamed rice (use sushi rice or short/medium grain white rice) – 3 cups of medium white rice grain gave me 5 ½ cups of steamed rice. (3 cups is based on rice cup measurement (1 cup = roughly 75% of 250ml) and 5 ½ cup is based on the standard cup (1cup = 250ml) measurement.
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp vinegar
- For Yubu (deep fried tofu pouches)
- 180g deep fried tofu (yubu in Korean/ abura-age in Japanese)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar (I used raw sugar)
- For spinach
- 240g spinach, rinsed (I used baby spinach)
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 large eggs, rinsed
- 180g carrots (2 medium sized), peeled
- 14 perilla leaves, rinsed (You can also cut the stems beforehand if you don’t want to deal with them when you eat)
- 7 strips of radish pickles (I used white radish pickles instead of yellow ones to avoid artificial colouring)
- 7 Kimbap/Sushi seaweed sheets
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil (To paste once you finish up rolling)
Steps (Requires some co-ordination skills)
Put the steamed rice into a big bowl then add the seasoning sauce as listed. Mix them lightly but thoroughly with a spatula. Cover with glad wrap on the bowl so that the rice doesn’t get dried until you start rolling Kimbap.
For Yubu (deep fried tofu pouches)
- In a large pot, boil some water. Once the water starts to boil, add the Yubu into the pot and push it down with tongs a couple of times so that it soaks water. Boil it for 1-2 mins.
- Drain the water; rinse the Yubu in cold running water for a while.
- Squeeze the water out from the Yubu (I wore plastic gloves in case it was still too hot and also it is a bit oily). Then slice them thinly.
- Heat the pan/wok with some oil on high heat. Once heated, reduced the heat to medium to low then add the Yubu and seasoning ingredients as listed. Stir them thoroughly so that the seasoning gets distributed evenly.
- Turn the heat off and put the Yubu into a bowl/plate.
- Boil some water in a pot. Add the salt (1/4 tsp as listed) then parboil the spinach for 1 minute.
- Drain the spinach and cool down with cold running water. Squeeze it lightly but enough to get rid of the water.
- Put the spinach into a bowl. Add the sesame oil as listed then mix them lightly with your hands.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl. Cook it in a pan. Once both sides are cooked take it out then slice it into thumb size width strips.
- Slice the carrots into long thin stick shapes. (Julienned).
For rolling (The order of the ingredients placement is marked by number in the picture below)
- Put all ingredients on the table.
- Place one seaweed sheet on the bamboo mat and thinly spread the rice on the seaweed sheet. (Only cover the 80-90% of the sheet)
- Start placing the prepared ingredients. (Order: perilla leaves, eggs, spinach, yubu, carrots, radish pickle)
- Once all ingredients are set, lift the bottom end of the seaweed sheet to cover the ingredients. Once you cover them, then roll the seaweed to the top. (Paste some water or put some rice pieces at the edge of the seaweed sheet, if it doesn’t stick)
- Roll with the bamboo mat once more to give a firm shape.
- Repeat this process for the rest of ingredients.
- Once you finish rolling them, paste the sesame oil onto the rolls.
8. Cut the Kimbap into bite size pieces and serve them on a plate. Enjoy!
- As I mentioned earlier, the ingredients for fillings (except for rice) were prepared for 10 rolls. So try to evenly distribute them among 7 rolls. It will give some “filling generous” Kimbap. That’s good!
- Deep fried tofu pouches look like this, in case you don’t know what they look like. (I couldn’t find the Korean one, so I bought Japanese one instead).
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