Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .
~ CS Lewis
When I was living in Korea, I frequently had my friend Maria come to stay. Whenever she stayed it was a weekend of catching up, tons of food and lots of experimentation. We would sit at my little tables, chopping boards and knives at the ready and prepare anything from curries to stir-fries to experimental desserts. Despite the readiness of our knives, our tongues tended to wag a bit too much and we’d end up taking forever to chop, instead sharing stories about our past and current lives, exchanging cooking ideas or discussing teaching achievements and problems. It was always great fun and we’d both take away enough food for several meals the following week. In fact, she was my faithful helper when I made the rather wonderful meal that I shared with you in the June 2015 In My Kitchen – we ate Egyptian, Indian, Turkish and Bangladeshi food that evening and Maria was a great contributor and taste-tester for me.
On Wednesday, Maria came to Dublin and her presence is one of the things I am looking forward to most this Fiesta Friday! We already went to a local Korean grocery store, twice,that has a small restaurant at the back where we gorged on bulgogi, downed spicy beef soup, tucked into some kimchi bokkeumbap (see my version here), and chowed down on some delicious plain Korean rice and browsed the shelves of the market reminiscing about ingredients and pointing out the different side dishes and snacks we had so loved.
Just yesterday, we made one of our favourite Korean foods – gimbap! I have shared with you already my take on tuna gimbap and this is another recipe using some traditional ingredients along with more western ones. We made this with the help of The Jam’s sister, The Melon, as she helped me to slice the avocado and chop the scallions. She is only 2, so I held my hand over hers and did all the guiding but she pressed down the knife for each cut. She also got to pull out all the rocket/ arugula we would use (and more). The Jam helped us to layer the vegetables and salmon onto the gimbap rolls but unfortunately, our gimbap did not roll properly! Why? Well, because I bought the wrong type of gim/seaweed. It wasn’t one for rolling gimbap but it was one you would be more likely to use in soups and I didn’t realise that until after we opened it. However, it did roll into a messy tube with disaster only falling when we tried to slice it! We even rolled some with rice on the outside, and while they did hold better, it wasn’t what we really hoped for visually. I was really disappointed in the beginning because I was so excited to share this dish with my family and with Maria. I wanted the kids to get some practice in with their chopsticks but it didn’t really work out that way. However, it was still quite good but it didn’t have the “togetherness” of flavours that gimbap usually has because it fell apart so easily.
Both the rocket and radish add a piquant taste to the gimbap that pairs really well with the smoked salmon. Coriander and avocado are already a match made in heaven and as I love eating both with smoked salmon, they were an easy addition. I don’t like the processed ham and crab sticks that were in the gimabp I usually ate in Korea, so I left them out but retained the cucumber, carrot and danmuji. We forgot the egg but, really it was not needed. As you may notice I am missing danmuji and cilantro in the sliced gimbap below – I had left both in my sister’s house so I made this version without them – that is one lovely thing about gimbap, it is very versatile. Simple, delicious, light and fresh, this gimbap was a lovely end to a weekend filled with Korean food, friends and family.
Slightly Peppery Avocado and Smoked Salmon Gimbap with Lemon
Consume within 24 hours
- 1 cup uncooked sushi/short grain rice
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 large gim/seaweed slices.
- 1 cup rocket/arugula, divided
- 100g smoked salmon, thinly sliced into long strips
- 4 long thin slices danmuji/yellow pickled radish (1 per gimbap roll)
- 4-8 long thin slices of cucumber
- 4-8 long thin slices of carrot
- 1 avocado thinly sliced
- 3 red radishes thinly sliced
- handful of coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 scallions, diced
- lemon juice for drizzling
- sesame oil for sealing the gimbap
- Soak the rice for thirty minutes, then rinse, washing until clear.
- Add the washed rice with the 1.5 cups of water to a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for around 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Once absorbed, turn off the heat and leave aside for 10 minutes. Then add the sesame oil and a pinch of salt and mix well.
- Place a sheet of gim/seasweed on a sushi mat and then smooth a thin layer of rice on top of it, leaving a strip of seaweed blank for the time being (see photo at top).
- Layer a small bit of rocket, some salmon strips, 1-2 pieces of cucumber, carrot and avocado as well as 1 slice of danmuji just off centre of the rice. Top with coriander, red radish and some scallions. Drizzle with lemon juice.
- On the blank part of the gim, brush on some sesame oil.
- Then, using the sushi mat, roll the gimbap, tightening as you go until it is tight and fully rolled. Using a sharp knife, slice into smaller pieces. You may need to re-tighten if you feel it is too loose while cutting it.
- Repeat steps 3-5, until the rice and fillings are gone. This recipe is easily doubled and average about 1.5 gimbap rolls per person.
Leftovers: Any leftover ingredients can be tossed into a salad and mixed with sweet chilli sauce.