I apologize for the lack of bento updates lately. In between swarms of school assignments and episodes of caffeine overdose (or withdrawal), I found little time to pack my own lunches. And of the (very) few bentos that I have managed to produce since the last bento post, none was special enough to motivate me to do a post on it. So instead of skipping another week of updates, I decided to write about “kimbap,” a dish perfect for bentos and picnics.
I have been making a lot of kimbap lately and have finally decided on my favourite way to do it. There are hundreds of ways to make a kimbap, but my favourite combination of filling is julienned carrots, crabsticks, spinach, eggs, and pickled burdock roots. These five ingredients put together a decent range of colours and textures. And because they are either cooked or pickled, the final product won’t spoil too quickly.
Ingredients and Procedure
(Makes 2 rolls)
- 180 mL of uncooked, short grain rice
- 2 sheets of nori (standard size for sushi)
- 1 large egg, scrambled
- 4 large handfuls of spinach
- 2 long sticks of pickled burdock root
- 4 crabsticks (each measuring approx. 9 cm long)
- half of a medium carrot, julienned
- sesame oil
- ground white pepper (optional)
If you are using the plastic measurement cup that typically comes with your ricecooker, 180 mL roughly corresponds to 1 cup. First, wash and start cooking the rice. In a small boiling pot, bring water to boil (for cooking the crabsticks, carrots, and spinach later).
Over medium heat, spread egg thinly over a small pan and carefully roll it up. Normally, you could just use a regular frying pan for this step. For mine, however, I used a rectangular tamagoyaki pan. Instead of the short edge, I turned the pan 90 degrees and rolled along the long edge. It takes some practice, but we do get a pretty nice and long egg roll this way. When egg roll has cooled slightly, cut it into two long strips.
If you are good at multitasking, you can start cooking the vegetables and the crabsticks one by one in the boiling water while making the egg roll. Drain the water from the cooked spinach and carrots. When they have cooled, season each individually with a drizzle of sesame oil and a dash of salt.
When rice is done, add a few drizzles of sesame oil and dashes of salt and mix thoroughly. While you are mixing the rice with one hand, use your other hand to fan your rice. As with sushi rice, this step helps to give your rice a shiny appearance and to remove excess moisture.
Divide each filling into two equal portions and start making the kimbap rolls, ideally with a bamboo mat, once rice has been cooled to room temperature. For an idea of where to place the fillings, refer to image below.
Once you have finished rolling the kimbap, lightly brush the nori exterior with sesame oil. Personally, I find it better to wait until the nori has absorbed the sesame oil before slicing the kimbap. So for now, go find something to do (suggestion: go clean the pots and pans you used for this). When your sink is devoid of dirty dishes, cut the kimbap into even slices and enjoy yourself.