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These sushi-like Korean rolls—steamed seasoned rice and other ingredients tightly wrapped in sheets of roasted seaweed and sliced into rounds—were probably introduced to Korea during the Japanese occupation of the early twentieth century. They’re larger than Japanese sushi, have more of that delicious seasoned rice, and are traditionally served without soy sauce or wasabi. For Koreans, kimbop is the quintessential picnic food, or something to eat on the go. (For kids, it’s even a must-have in a lunch box.) We make these with almost any filling you can think of, and you don’t have to stop at the ones I recommend below. Try adding thin slices of cucumber, any kind of kimchi, cooked bulgogi, the spicy squid, the Spam, or even canned tuna fish. If you do plan to make kimbop, invest in a sushi mat—a bamboo mat made for rice rolling. You can roll these without one, but it really eases the process.

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  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed or olive oil
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 bunch spinach or watercress
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 carrot, cut into ½-inch (12 mm) wide strips
  • 4 cups (368 g) cooked sushi or short-grain rice, still hot
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 5 sheets roasted seaweed
  • ½ pound (225 g) yellow pickled radish (see Note), cut into long sticks
  • ½ pound (225 g) crab stick (imitation crab), halved lengthwise
  • Sesame oil, for brushing


  1. In a nonstick skillet over low heat, heat the oil. Pour in the eggs so that they cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer, and let them cook until they are set. Remove the omelet to a cutting board and let it cool to room temperature before cutting it into thick ribbons as shown in the how-to.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a mixing bowl with salted ice-cold water. Drop the spinach or watercress into the boiling water and let it cook just until it is wilted and turns bright green, about 7 seconds. Remove the greens from the water with tongs and place them in the ice water. Swish the greens around in the water with your hands until the greens have cooled, then drain them in a colander, squeezing out all the water with your hands.
  3. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt over medium heat and cook the carrot just until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove the carrot from the heat and set aside to cool.
  4. When you’re ready to form the kimbop, put the warm rice in a mixing bowl and mix in the vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Let cool slightly before forming the rolls.
  5. Form the rolls according to the directions. Slice the rolls into thick rounds and eat them the day they are made.

How-to Kimbop

  1. Season the rice when it has cooled to warm. Taste it, and add more vinegar or salt as needed.

  2. Set the roasted seaweed on a bamboo mat, then place about ½ cup (92 g) rice on the bottom half of the sheet.

  3. Set up a small bowl of water and use wet fingers to spread the rice into a thin layer on the bottom two-thirds of the seaweed, dipping your fingers in the water as needed so that the rice doesn’t stick to your hands. You want the rice to cover the roasted seaweed in an even layer.

  4. Lay the cooked greens on the rice in a single layer near the bottom of the roasted seaweed, then place the yellow pickled radish, the carrots, a strip of egg, and the crab stick.

  5. Pick up the edge of the bamboo closest to you and fold it over the fillings.

  6. Use your fingertips to tuck the kimbop up under the rolled edge of the bamboo, ensuring the wrapping is tight.

  7. Hold the leading edge of the bamboo mat out and gently roll the bamboo over the kimbop, using your hands to pinch the kimbop into shape. If the seaweed doesn’t stick together, use a few kernels of warm rice as glue.

  8. Make sure the kimbop is tightly rolled by shaping it with the bamboo mat.

  9. Release the kimbop by gently rolling it off the mat.

  10. The kimbop should be perfectly sealed into shape. Prepare a small bowl with sesame oil. Coat your clean hands with the oil and gently rub the outside of the roasted seaweed. This prevents your roll from puckering and losing its shape, and it also adds flavor.