“A picnic is more than eating a meal, it is a pleasurable sate of mind.”
When I moved to Korea back in May 2012, one of the first foods my brother introduced me to was gimbap. It’s basically a seaweed roll (gim = seaweed, bap = rice) stuffed with tasty ingredients: egg, ham, crab stick, carrot, perilla leaf or spinach, danmuji (yellow pickled radish), and cucumber. Additionally, tuna, bulgogi, or kimchi can be included. You nearly always get a side of danmuji to eat with it. However, danmuji is one of those foods that I hate with a passion, outside of gimbap and bibimbap, so having it as side dish to my gimbap never happens.
However, it works really, really well in gimbap, giving texture and bite to the seaweed roll. My favourite kind is the chamchi or tuna gimbap and I’ve been known to eat two chamchi (tuna) sangak gimbap (triangle gimbap) at a go! These gimbap are in the shape of small triangles and usually are filled only with rice and tuna mayonnaise. You can buy them at all the convenience shops. Gimbap is often served at picnics or on school field trips as it is easy to make and quite filling.
The last two weeks of January I spent on a staycation during which I spent a lot of time relaxing, cooking, reading, watching Scrubs and doing some travel. Part of the trip was spent with one of my lovely friends, Lucy. Since I’ve known her she has taken a trans-formative journey to veganism. She has some of the most amazing food photos on Instagram (click here) which always inspire me when I feel like being lazy. While I was with her she made me some vegan gimbap and it got me thinking that the only thing preventing me from making my own gimbap was laziness, and, really, that’s a very silly reason to not make my own.
The following recipe is my own take on this, one of my favourite quick bites, here in Korea. Although the ingredient list is long, don’t get overwhelmed – most things you can find in your local grocery store. If you don’t have access to a Korean mart or Asian shop, you can leave out the danmuji (I did the first time I made it!). Also, if you’d like to make traditional gimbap, check out Maangchi’s recipe.
Fusion Tuna Gimbap
Makes 3 rolls
Note: Consume within 24 hours
- 3 large gim/seaweed sheets
- 2 cups, freshly cooked Korean short grain/sushi rice
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 150g tin of tuna
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise (adjust as per your own taste)*
- 2 tsp whole grain mustard (adjust as per your own taste)
- 1 avocado, mashed
- dash of lime juice
- 1 tsp, dried coriander/cilantro OR 1 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
- Perilla leaves, two or three per gimbap roll
- Carrot, sliced into thin strips
- Bell Pepper, sliced into thin strips
- Cucumber, sliced into thin strips
- Danmuji, sliced into thin strips (optional)*
- Cherry Tomatoes, sliced into thirds (optional)
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- Place the seaweed flat on to a cutting board and set aside. If you have a bamboo mat you can place it on that instead.
- Mix the rice, sesame oil and salt together. Set aside.
- Mix the tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, onion and seasonings together. Set aside.
- Mash the avocado ingredients together and set aside.
- Spread a thin layer of rice over the sheet of gim. You want it to cover most of the gim but leave an edge of about an inch empty. This edge should be the one furthest from you.
- In the middle of the rice, spread some of the tuna mix.
- Lightly spoon some avocado on to the tuna, and then top with 2 or three perilla leaves.
- Layer a few pieces of each of the remaining ingredients on top of the perilla leaves. Don’t over pack it.
- It is now time to roll the gimbap. If you have a bamboo mat you can use that to assist you, but it is not necessary. Lift the side of the gim nearest you and roll it in over the tuna mix. Tighten and continue to roll, tightening as you go, until you have reached the end of the gim.
- Tighten once more, and then using a pastry brush, brush on some sesame oil and then sprinkle the sesame leaves on top.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the gimbap into bite-size pieces.
- Transfer the gimbap to a serving plate and serve** with some danmuji slices, if you like. You will need a chopstick to eat this with as forks are a bit impractical. Consider it a chance to practice your skills – I know I do!
*Tuna gimbap is usually really mayonnaise-y, I prefer my mayonnaise to have some “bite”, so i always use mustard as well.
Leftover vegetables: I bagged any extra vegetables and used them for gimbap the next day. Additionally, you could use them in a stir fry or a salad or as veggie sticks.
Make ahead: Gimbap is best eaten fresh. However, I made this for lunch twice this week, making the gimbap up the night before. It was still good. However, make the entire gimbap up and not just the rice. The rice will harden in the fridge and it will be difficult to spread it on the gim.
Make it your own: Instead of using mayonnaise and mustard, stir the avocado into the tuna and onions. I didn’t bother with the egg, ham or imitation crab stick that is usually included. However, feel free to add them. For the egg, refer to Maangchi’s recipe (linked above). Also, the first time I made it, I didn’t bother with the sesame oil and salt in the rice and it’s still really good.