Growing up in San Francisco’s Richmond District, I was exposed to kimbap, Korean style sushi, at an early age. I would skip down to the local Korean market and for a few dollars, make off with a tray of delicious, sesame oil scented kimbap.
I have a fondness for these Korean rice rolls, which are frequently filled with seasoned rice, marinated beef (bulgogi), fishcake, cooked egg, carrots, spinach, daikon, cucumbers, even kimchi. When my friend Mary – who was born in Korea and raised in Southern California – offered to teach me how to make them, I jumped at the opportunity.
Mary and her older son Christian came over in the late afternoon for our kimbap lesson. Christian and Caleb are buddies and met through Sadie’s childcare program. The boys ran out into the backyard, while Mary and I prepped the kimbap ingredients, some of which we had prepared in advance. Once the ingredients were laid out and we had cooked the bulgogi (which Mary purchased raw and marinated at a local Korean market in Oakland), we got to rolling.
This is how we roll
As we assembled our kimbap, Mary offered “I heard once that the Japanese eat with their eyes, Chinese eat with their stomachs, and Korean’s eat with their mouths.” She was referring to how much Korean’s value good flavor in their food. I then added “…and Jews, we just eat and eat and eat!” We laughed.
The boys came into the kitchen for a brief lesson in kimbap making and each took turns adding ingredients to a roll, which we then helped them roll up in a bamboo sushi mat. When we brought them some neatly sliced pieces of kimbap, they quickly gobbled them up and ran back to their game playing in the backyard. I don’t think Caleb grasped just how excited I was to be making this exotic snack from my childhood. That’s okay.
This was a fabulous cross-cultural exchange that I enjoyed immensely. Thanks to Mary for the kimbap lesson. If you want a helpful visual of a kimbap recipe, just click here.