Bulgogi Gimbap

When I walk into a Korean grocery store I always find myself curious and wanting to learn more.  What types of grains are these?  Why can’t I get this cut of beef at my regular market?  What on earth is corn tea?  Can one family really finish all this kimchi??

One of the items that I’m less puzzled about is Gimbap, which is basically sushi made the Korean way.  What I love about Gimbap is that they are always a characteristically colorful and happy-looking treat.  It’s almost as if the fillings are selected purely based on how they look together.  I’ve enjoyed some Gimbap ingredient combinations more than I’ve enjoyed others, which is why I finally decided to make some at home on my own.

Gimbap is ideal summertime food–it’s perfect for picnics and parties or even as a simple lunch.  I fill my Gimbap rolls with barbecued pieces of beef bulgogi.  This meat is marinated for a minimum of 4 hours in a fresh Asian pear marinade that’s spiced up with some Korean chili pepper paste known as gochujang.  You can easily make your Gimbap rolls vegetarian friendly by replacing the beef with mushrooms, marinated and cooked in the same way.
A perfect accompaniment to these Bulgogi Gimbap would be some spicy and crunchy kimchi.  I couldn’t pass up on Mother in Law’s brand of kimchi for their unique name, and I’m really glad I didn’t.  Their Muu Daikon Kimchi recipe is hot and flavorful without being overwhelming.  I’m certainly not a connoisseur of kimchi, but I do know that my hubby and I finished this jar within 2 days, which is the most kimchi we’ve ever eaten.   Need a drink to wash down all these flavorful Korean snacks?  The ideal drink would have to be a chilled glass of Homemade Korean Barley Tea.  Barley Tea has a crisp, clean taste that’s ideal for quenching your thirst when you’ve had one to many pieces of fiery hot kimchi.  In those moments, this rustic and simple refreshment will seriously taste like the best tea you’ve ever had!

Bulgogi Gimbap

Makes 24 pieces. 


{Seasoned Rice}

3 cups cooked, brown, short-grain rice

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tsp white sugar

pinch salt

{Fillings & Wrapping}

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 small package Korean yellow pickled radish (takuan), pre-cut into long strips

1 bunch fresh spinach

1 tsp sesame oil

3 sheets nori seaweed (gim)

2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil, for cooking

{Bulgogi- mix all these ingredients together in a large bowl and marinade for at least 4 hours before cooking}

1/2 lb. skirt steak, sliced thinly into 3″ long pieces

1 Asian pear, peeled and pureed in food processor

1-1″ knob of ginger, grated

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 small brown onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced or crushed

2 Tbsp gochujang (hot pepper paste)

4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp brown rice syrup

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp mirin


roasted sesame seeds (optional)


small bowl

large frying pan

sushi mat

1 cup measure

cutting board

sharp knife


1.)  Make the Seasoned Rice.  In a small bowl, mix the 2 tsp of sugar and pinch of salt with the 2 Tbsp of vinegar and mix until sugar dissolves.  Sprinkle this sweetened vinegar over the cooked brown rice and mix in until it is evenly absorbed.

2.)  Cook Spinach and Bulgogi.  Heat 1 Tbsp of oil over med-high heat and add spinach leaves to cook for 2-3 minutes until just wilted.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame oil, then set aside.  Using same large pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp of oil on high heat, drain off excess liquid marinade from meat, then cook bulgogi in the oil until well done.

3.)  Make the Gimbap (please see 3rd photo).  On a sushi mat, place 1 cup of rice evenly in the lower 2/3 portion of a piece of nori.  Wet your hands with cold water to prevent the rice from sticking to it.  Line up the fillings along the horizontal middle of the flattened rice rectangle that you have just created.  Roll up the Gimbap roll so that it is snug and even, then seal off the roll by dabbing the top edge of the sushi sheet with some water.  Repeat this process 2 more times.

4.)  Slice the Gimbap.  Cut each roll into 8 equal slices.  Garnish the Gimbap with roasted sesame seeds and enjoy with some Barley Tea and your favorite kimchi.  If you are feeling adventurous, try making your own kimchi at home: Quick Cucumber Kimchi.  Happy Friday!