Mar 13, 2024

Korean Luncheon Meat and Kimchi Kimbap

Kimbap or gimbap, the name refers to Korean seaweed rice rolls that are commonly found in Korea, and is growing popularity in many countries. If you watch enough Korean drama, for sure you'll see this type of food pop up once a while in the show. 

One may be confused between the Japanese version and Korean version of seaweed rice rolls. Well, they do look alike so it can be hard to tell which is which from a glance, especially for foreigners. 

The biggest difference resides in the ingredients. For Japanese version, the rice is usually flavored with vinegar, and sometimes you can also find raw seafood wrapped inside. As for the Korean version, it's usually cooked ingredients inside. Also let it be the filling or the seaweed, usually there will be sesame oil involved. So I guess when you're uncertain about the seaweed rice rolls in front of you, I'd say just take a bite and you'll know for sure.

Korean luncheon meat and kimchi kimbap - 

Korean luncheon meat and kimchi kimbap

Ingredients (for two rolls)?

  • 1/2 can Korean luncheon meat (SPAM works too)
  • 2 big nori sheets
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 1 big bowl cooked short grain white rice
  • 1 bundle spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • Some salt
  • Some sesame oil
  • Some toasted white sesame seeds 


Precook the rice, once done, fluff the grains and let the steam escape a bit while waiting for the rice to cool down. 

Trim-off the ends of spinach and cut to shorter sections. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the spinach. Bring to a boil again then quickly turn-off the heat. Drain first then further wipe of any remaining moister with paper towel. Mix in 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil.

Prepped spinach for kimbap

Invert the luncheon meat from the can and cut to thick strips. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and switch to medium heat. Add in the luncheon meat sticks and sear till some sides turn slightly brown. Scoop out for later use.

Seared luncheon meat sticks

Chop the kimchi to smaller pieces. Peel and grate the garlic. 

Still using the same pan and switch to medium heat, add in the chopped kimchi along with 1/4 teaspoon of grated garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of gochujang sauce, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Give it a quick stir. 

Mix in cooked rice. Once that kimchi color has evenly spread out, turn-off the heat and wait till the rice cools down.

Kimchi rice for kimbap

Use a bamboo mat and lay down a sheet of cling foil. Put one nori sheet on top with shiny side down. Spread a layer of kimchi rice but leaving about 2-inch space on the other end. 

Also leaving another 2-inch space on the bottom of the kimchi rice, lay down the luncheon meat sticks and spinach approximately in the middle. If unsure, just make sure the spacing similar to the picture I provided.

Kimbap before picture

Grab the cling foil and roll up, but don't roll in the cling foil, it's only used for preventing the ingredients sticking to the bamboo mat. Make sure to roll the nori sheet tightly, otherwise the fillings will fall apart. 

Repeat these steps and use a new sheet of cling foil for the second batch. Once both rolls are ready, brush the top of the roll with some sesame oil. Transfer them into the oven and bake under high heat till the nori sheet crisp up a wee bit. Remove from heat and dust the top with some toasted white sesame seeds.

Wipe a sharp knife with some sesame oil then slice through the kimbap to serving size pieces. 

Korean luncheon meat and kimchi kimbap

It can be hard if you're making the kimbap or any roll-up food for the first time. Don't get discouraged if the roll ends up falling apart, just make sure to handle it with even more force the second time around. The worst case you'll just end up with a plate of fried rice-like ingredients and a sheet of soggy seaweed to munch on, even though not as pretty, but still delicious.

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