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Category: Korean

Beef Japchae

Beef Japchae

I don’t like to abuse the phrase “game changer”, but sometimes its use is warranted. And this Beef Japchae recipe is one of those times. Japchae is as ubiquitous in Korea as mac and cheese is in the states but it’s more versatile. Although it’s read more

Vegetarian Bibimbap

Vegetarian Bibimbap

Looking for delicious ways to incorporate more veggies into your meals? Make this Vegetarian Bibimbap! At its most basic, bibimbap means “mixed rice”. But there’s nothing basic about this beloved Korean dish of warm rice topped with seasonal vegetables, a tongue tingling gochujang sauce, and read more

Gimbap

Gimbap

You may have seen some of the viral Tiktoks about Trader Joe’s latest Korean offering, their seaweed rice roll. Gimbap (“gim” being seaweed, and “bap” being rice) have long been a beloved snack in Korea. And they’ve really taken the states by storm lately too. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be one of the influencers lining up at 6 am outside TJ’s to get your hands on some. Gimbap is easier to make than you think, and I’m going to break down all the steps for you.

While Gimbap (also called Kimbap) looks similar to sushi, there are some key differences. Sushi generally includes raw fish and the rice is seasoned with sushi vinegar. The rice for Gimbap is seasoned with toasted sesame oil, and they typically don’t include raw fish. Instead they are packed with all sort of goodies ranging from kimchi to eggs. They can easily be made vegetarian or vegan, or they can be stuffed with bulgogi. Today I am going to share a classic Gimbap, one that I usually grab in line at a korean grocery store. Once you learn the basic techniques, you can come up with your own winning combinations.

Full disclosure, this is the first time I’ve rolled any kind of sushi-like item at home. WHAT? A Japanese woman who doesn’t have sushi rolls at the ready? The horror. I know, but I’m lucky that I can have as much sushi as I want at the restaurants, so I’ve never thought about making any at home. But then my husband said you should really do a holiday recipe and people love sushi…ok challenge accepted! Gimbap to the rescue. For many reasons (not needing soy sauce so it’s neater, being able to keep it at room temperature, swapping out ingredients to incorporate whatever you have on hand), Gimbap is actually better than sushi for any holiday gathering you may have. But it’s also the perfect family friendly lunch box star, appetizer, or afternoon snack- so let’s get into it.

ingredients gimbap

Gimbap Starts with Rice!

I start by making a batch of rice and seasoning it. You will need to use short grain rice (the standard rice used in Korean and Japanese cuisine), often called sushi rice. I don’t recommend using longer grain rice, like Jasmine or basmati, since the grains tend to be more separate and you will have problems keeping everything intact once you roll it. No loose messy rolls here.

Once you add the seasonings, “mix” the rice well to cool and distribute the flavors. By mix, I don’t mean the standard way you might do it. Instead, use a gentle chopping motion with a paddle, trying to keep from smooshing and crushing the rice. It needs to cool down to room temperature, which gives me time to get the rest of the filling prepped.

rice salt

 

Gimbap Filling!

We are stuffing our Gimbap with all sort of goodies: garlicky spinach, pickled radish, rolled eggs, and crab sticks. Since Gimbap is not served with any kind of sauce, it’s important that all of the ingredients are seasoned. The cucumber is the only item that’s unseasoned, so your other ingredients should be well seasoned to compensate.

I start by blanching the spinach.

chop spinach

Once the spinach is done, I move on to the cucumbers.

cucumber gimbap

seeds gimbap

Now onto the egg crepes. This is probably the most labor intensive part of making gimbap but it adds great texture, color, and a nice kick of protein. I start by whisking the eggs and then heating a nonstick pan. I add a little bit of oil, and then wipe it so that only a thin sheen covers the pan.

egg gimbap

Cover the pan and cook for 10 seconds, then remove the lids and carefully flip and cook a few seconds on the other side. The egg is very thin so it cooks very quickly. (It helps to blow on the edge of the crepe to lift it so you can flip it over) Repeat this process with all the whisked egg and stack the crepes on top of each other.

I love to use pickled daikon radish in my gimbap, known as danmuji in Korean. It is called takuan in Japanese, and it can be found in most well stocked Asian markets. The traditional yellow color makes it easy to spot in the refrigerated section. It adds a nice crunch with a delicious sweet, sour, and tangy pickled taste. You can find it precut or you can cut it into long strips.

Before I start assembling my rolls, I get all of my ingredients together within hands reach to simplify the process.

Let’s Roll!

I am not someone who runs out and buys every kitchen gadget under the sun. But an inexpensive bamboo rolling mat is essential for making gimbap and sushi. I’ve heard of some people trying to roll without a mat by using parchment paper. Because I haven’t tried it for myself, I can’t say whether this is a helpful hack or a TikTok disaster.

rolling gimbap

Make sure you lift the bamboo mat as you roll to keep from rolling the mat into the gimbap. Once you’re done rolling the gimbap, set it aside, seam side down, to keep it from unraveling. Repeat this with the rest of the rice and filling-this should make 4 rolls.

One of the tricks to slicing the gimbap neatly is to keep a damp kitchen towel handy to clean the knife after every couple slices. This keeps the knife from sticking too much as you try and cut. Furthermore, when you cut through the roll to make your slices, you want to jiggle the knife back and forth, with a sawing motion, as you cut through. Sounds weird I know, but try it and you’ll see why sushi chefs employ this tactic. It keeps your slices clean without exerting too much pressure on the rolls so you don’t crush them. And as always, a sharp knife is key.

Once the rolls are arranged on a platter, I like to sprinkle some sesame seeds on them too. Look how beautiful these are:

As I mentioned before, gimbap is not usually served with any dipping sauce. I think of them more as a Japanese omusubi cousin, even though they look like sushi rolls. So many flavors abound in each bite that it really isn’t necessary.  (Of course if you absolutely insist on serving it with a little soy sauce, I won’t tell!)  I hope you now feel confident enough to try your hand at making this amazing treat.

You can make the Gimbap ingredients, except the rice, the day before. Once you finish rolling the Gimbap, wrap them in plastic wrap if you are not serving them right away. They hold for several hours at room temperature. You can store leftovers in the fridge, but the rice will harden over time, so they taste best the day they are made.

Try this fun recipe this weekend and let me know what you think. Leave a comment below and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

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recipe card gimbap

Gimbap

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: small plates, snacks
  • Cuisine: korean

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 cups fresh cooked short grain rice 
  • 4 half sheets of nori/gim (½ sheet roasted seaweed)
  • 8 sticks imitation crab meat
  • 4 ounces yellow pickled radish cut into thin strips (called takuan or danmuji-use pre-cut or cut into 8 inch long strips)
  • ½ European cucumber or 2 persian cucumbers 
  • 1 bag baby spinach (about 6 ounces)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil 
  • roasted sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

Prepare the Rice:

  1. Place freshly cooked rice in a large shallow bowl. Sprinkle the rice with 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Using a slight chopping motion, mix the rice, taking care not to crush the grains.
  2. Set it aside and cool to room temperature. 

Prepare the Gimbap Filling:

Spinach:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat and add the spinach. Use a pair of tongs or chopsticks to submerge the spinach. Let it cook for 10 seconds and then drain it into a colander. Rinse with running water to cool down and then squeeze out excess water with your clean hands.
  2. Chop the spinach roughly.
  3. In a small bowl combine the spinach, minced garlic, ½ teaspoon sea salt, and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil in a bowl.
  4. Mix well by hand and set aside.

Cucumbers:

  1. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then into quarters.
  2. Cut out the seeds by slicing across the top.
  3. Then cut the cucumber into thin strips and transfer to the spinach plate.

Eggs:

  1. Crack 3 eggs in a bowl and add a couple dashes of  sea salt. Whisk it with a fork.
  2. Heat a small 8” non-stick pan over medium heat. Add two teaspoons neutral oil to the pan. Use a paper towel to wipe off the excess so only a thin sheen of oil remains. 
  3. Add 3 Tablespoons of the egg to the pan and swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the egg for 10 seconds and then take the lid off.
  5. Blow onto the egg. (The edge will lift up). Flip the egg with chopsticks or a spatula and cook the other side for another couple of seconds. 
  6. Transfer the egg crepe to a cutting board.
  7. Wipe the pan with the oily paper towel. Continue cooking in the same way until all of the egg is used up and you have a pile of egg crepes. Cut it into ½ inch wide strips and place it on the plate with the other vegetables.
  8. Unwrap the crab sticks if needed and set it on the plate as well. 

Rolling:

  1. Place a sheet of gim/nori on a bamboo mat with the shiny side down. Evenly spread about 1 cup of prepared rice over top of it with slightly damp fingers, leaving about a 1 inch gap on the far side of the gim (away from you).
  2. Place 2 pieces of crabstick, 4-5 pieces of cucumbers, 4-5 yellow pickled radish strips, a few egg strips, and spinach in the center of the rice.
  3. Use both hands and roll the mat, while holding on to seaweed, over the fillings, so one edge of the rice reaches the other side.
  4. Hold onto the bamboo mat and press it tightly as you continue rolling. Pull the mat back as you roll so it doesn’t get caught in the roll. 
  5. Remove the finished roll from the mat and set it aside, seam side down as you finish making all of the rolls.
  6. Brush the rolls with a little sesame oil. Then cut the rolls into ¼ inch slices, wiping the knife blade with a damp towel as needed to keep your knife from getting gummy with the rice.
  7. Plate the slices, and if desired sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  8. Serve immediately.

Notes

*These rolls can be held for several hours at room temperature but taste best the day they are made. If you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge. Gently microwave for a couple minutes to soften the rice which may harden in the fridge.

Keywords: gimbap, kimbap, korean, rice rolls, snacks, appetizers,

Korean Potato Pancake

Korean Potato Pancake

Everyone knows that I’m a noodle/rice over potatoes girl any day of the week, but I do make an exception for a crisp and crunchy potato pancake situation. This Korean Potato Pancake is latkes’ cool older cousin; all the savory and crispy potato flavor you read more

Haemul Sundubu-Jjigae

Haemul Sundubu-Jjigae

Craving a warming and hearty soup for supper? Look no further than this Korean jjigae (or stew), known as Haemul Sundubu-jjigae. That may be a bit of a mouthful, but there are all kinds of jjigae enjoyed in Korea; this one has soft tofu (sundubu) read more

Air Fryer Tofu

Air Fryer Tofu

This has really been my summer of Air Fryer experimentation. I know I’m late to the party but I’m making up for lost time, and I was especially thrilled with this Air Fryer Tofu. Perfectly golden and crispy, and glazed with a delectably sweet and spicy sauce, this is a winner! And so easy to make too, so let’s get into it.

air fryer tofu

Making Air Fryer Tofu

I use firm tofu for this and I first remove excess moisture by pressing it in paper towels. I’m generally not a lover of extra firm tofu since it’s missing the pillowiness (is that even a word) and creamy flavor that I crave. But in this instance, firm tofu works better because there’s less moisture to interfere with the frying process. Plus it’s more sturdy and less likely to break apart when you flip over the pieces during the air-frying process.

press air fryer tofu

chunks tofu

Then I make a simple marinade with pantry staples that do double duty as a dipping sauce.

Then pour over the tofu, making sure the tofu pieces are coated with the sauce, and let them marinade an hour or two, or even overnight.

When I’m ready to cook the tofu, I reserve the marinade and then add some cornstarch to the tofu to help it really crisp up.

 

 

When the tofu is done, it will be golden brown and crispy. Since air fryers, like ovens, can vary in power, you will need to keep an eye on your tofu. If you see that the tofu is getting too dark, lower the heat.

While it’s in the air fryer, I quickly turn the reserved marinade into a syrupy dipping sauce. Cook the sauce for a couple of minutes until it is hot and bubbling. It’s pretty thick already so you will not need to reduce it.

I like to garnish with sesame seeds and some scallions.

This Air Fryer Tofu makes an excellent starter, or a fun protein packed snack. Make a double batch and use leftovers for grain bowls or a quick veggie stir fry. If you haven’t yet gotten into Air Frying, I give oven instructions in the notes. Make it this week and let me know what you think! And don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love seeing your creations!

 

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recipe air fryer tofu

Air Fryer Tofu

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus marinating time)
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: small plates
  • Cuisine: Korean

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 block firm tofu (about 14 ounces)

Sauce:

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Oil spray

Garnish:

  • Scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (I used a mix of white and black)

Instructions

  1. Drain and wrap the tofu in a couple layers of paper towels. Gently press to eliminate excess water.
  2. Remove the paper towel and cut the tofu into bite size cubes, about 1 to 1 ½ inch squares.
  3. In a bowl, mix the sugar, ketchup, mirin, soy sauce, gochujang, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. 
  4. Gently transfer the tofu cubes to a storage bag (or container) and add the sauce.
  5. Seal the bag, squeezing out the air, and gently move the marinade and tofu around, until all the cubes are coated evenly. 
  6. Marinate for an hour or two (or overnight). 
  7. Take the tofu out of the bag and gently place the cubes on a plate. Do not discard the marinade. 
  8. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the tofu generously, flip the tofu, and sprinkle again to coat the other side. 
  9. Spray the air fryer with a cooking spray and add the tofu cubes to the air fryer, leaving a little space between each piece. Spray the tofu with the oil spray.
  10. Set the air fryer to 400ºF and air fry for 9 to 11 minutes.
  11. Open the air fryer and gently flip the tofu a few times every 3 minutes or so, so they don’t stick to the bottom and also brown evenly. The tofu is ready when it’s golden brown.
  12. While the tofu is frying, pour the marinade into a small saucepan.
  13. Heat the sauce over medium high heat for a couple of minutes until hot and syrupy.
  14. Pour into a small sauce dish.
  15. Transfer the tofu to a plate and top with chopped scallions and sesame seeds. Serve Air Fryer Tofu immediately with the sauce on the side.

Notes

*You can also bake this tofu in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400. Put down a piece of parchment paper (which is less sticky than aluminum foil.) Spray your parchment paper with oil. Lay your prepared tofu on the paper and spray again with oil. Bake the tofu for 15-20 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through.

Keywords: tofu, vegan, air fryer, korean, gochujang, snacks, crispy