My Intro to Bulgogi & Kimbap

Tilapia & KimbapThe deli in my office building changed ownership a couple of months ago.  Now, phrases like “we sold out” and “it’s unbelievable!” are increasingly heard around the building.  Recently I went to the deli for turkey on wheat and got back on the elevator with an amazing array of tilapia soaked in miso and sake then grilled, along with a generous portion of pretty little slices of kimbap, or Korean sushi.  

Who knew the corporate crunch would educate me in the world of Korean cooking?  That smack in the middle of working on benefits and the most recent Worker’s Comp case, I could step downstairs and into a world of freshly made culinary awe?  Mr. New Deli Owner, that’s who!  They changed the menu, brightened up the place, began taking American Express (thank you) and business is booming! 

Before eating my lunch, I took the requisite picture and dove in.  The tilapia was out of this world, but the absolute star of the show was the kimbap.  I did research and learned that while kimbap looks like sushi, it isn’t.  The main difference I noted, is that no vinegar is used in the rice.  Instead, it has a warm and toasty taste of sesame oil with just a hint of salt.  Unlike sushi, when making kimbap you are working with all cooked ingredients which often include leftovers such as beef, crab, egg, chicken, carrot, cucumber, spinach, cheese, etc.  The sky is really the limit with this dish, but keep it simple and clean with just a few ingredients, like 3 or 4, with contrasting tastes and textures. 

I knew I wanted to use bulgogi, which is marinated, stir-fried beef used in korean barbecue.  That, along with scrambled egg, steamed julienned carrots, and pickled radish would be our test ingredients for our first shot at homemade kimbap.  We stumped the crew at the local grocer’s when we asked them for pickled radish.  You would have thought we asked for the dancing squirrel, which might have been easier for them to find.  We didn’t want to ask yet another person, so we gave up and used thin-sliced garlic-dill pickle.  (Maybe the next post you read here should be How to Pickle Your Radish – or At least Where to Store Them:  A Lesson for Grocers).   

The flavor combination was perfect.  Sweet, with just a hint of kiwi from the bulgogi marinade, but tempered by the sesame oil in the rice and the tart and sourness of the pickle.  The carrots added slight texture to round out the bite, making this dish a quick favorite in the Cheese Abode. 

Bulgogi or Marinated Beef

  • 1 pound rib eye, sliced very thinmise en place
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, small dice
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

How to Make It!

The recipe I originally used said to put most of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until liquified, then add the green onion and marinate.  NO NEED.  There is no logical reason I see for doing that.  My suggestion is to mix the sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar together in a bowl, add the remaining ingredients and refrigerate overnight.  Remove the meat and grill over medium-high heat or cook in a pre-heated pan, on the stove-top.      


  • 1 pound prepared bulgogikimbap prep
  • 2 cups white rice, cooked
  • 4 sheets roasted seaweed
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup carrots, julienned and steamed
  • 1/4 cup garlic-dill pickle, julienned
  • 2 eggs, scrambled

How to Make It!

Set up your mise en place, to make assembly easier.  Some sites, as well as my sushi post, suggest using plastic gloves dabbed with a touch of mayonnaise to prevent the rice from sticking to your fingers.  This go-around, I went sans gloves and dabbed my fingers in sesame oil, which did the trick. 

Lay a sushi mat down, and put a sheet of seaweed on top, shiny side down.  Spread rice on the seaweed, starting about 1/4 to 1/3 way down from the top.  Begin to set the ingredients down, starting with the bulgogi, in a straight line horizontally.  Continue adding ingredients, one at a time and right next to each other, about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom.  Leaving a margin at the top and the bottom, allows for a tightly rolled kimbap, without it bursting at the seam.  Once all ingredients are added, begin to roll the kimbap in the way you would a sleeping bag, using the sushi mat to assist in rolling it tightly.  Pull toward you, then roll – pull toward you, then roll, etc. 


kimbapWith a very sharp knife, slice the kimbap into 1/2 inch pieces and serve.  Mr. Cheese and I write the ends off as useless and scarf them down while preparing our plates.  Be careful when making these, as they will likely get eaten up just as quick as you can assemble them.  Serves 2-4



About tossingtheswissaround

I have been obsessed with food since I can remember. I grew up watching the Frugal Gourmet and Julia Childs in black and white repeats on TV. I made an elementary version of veal parmesan when I was all of 8 years old and even concocted a homemade version of vomit to drizzle along the hallway and oh-so-carefully in the bathroom so I could get of school whenever I wanted. Dad never caught on but I eventually came clean about that vomit recipe. About two years ago. My skills have greatly improved and my obsession has only deepened as the years go by. In the mornings, I ask my co-workers what’s for lunch, what they ate last night and what is on the menu tonight. I groan when I eat almost anything I like because I can barely contain my excitement. Because, well, because it’s food! I was technically trained and once worked as a formal chef but physically that takes its toll so I joined the much less strenuous, albeit entertaining, world of HR. Food is still at the forefront of my mind as I continue to cook and love all things food. Enjoy!
This entry was posted in beef, food, how-to, korean cuisine, recipes, tilapia and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My Intro to Bulgogi & Kimbap

  1. Yeah for places that take American Express and help me earn miles! This looks fabulous. I love when places change for the better.

  2. Just happily connected to your site via Greg’s.

    This recipe sounds fantastic. Combines two of my great loves sushi and Korean food. I’m feeling inspired. Many thanks!


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