“Thou shall not judge others.”
This is one valuable lesson I learned earlier in my life.
Have you ever been surprised by someone who has an amazing talent that you never thought he/she would have? It came to a such surprise that you couldn’t believe your eyes?
I was in middle school, provably 8th grade.
There was an interesting girl in my class. Her name was Mi-gyoung.
So quiet and shy, she hardly ever talk to anyone. She was an all-A student in every academic subjects. Wearing a thick glasses with messy hair, she looked just like one of those nerdy-smarty kid in many movies. She was always alone. Many, including myself, thought she was a boring person.
But, one incident changed everything.
One sunny autumn day, we had a school-wide picnic at the near mountain. Everyone brought Kimbap as their lunch (Kimbap is the official picnic food in Korea). We sat together on the grass and ate our lovely Kimbap that our mothers made early in the morning, enjoying each others company. Mi-gyoung ate her lunch by herself sitting away from us.
After lunch, it was the talent show time. Some girls did singing, some did dancing or cracked some jokes. But nothing was more eye opening than when Mi-gyoung suddenly raised her hand and volunteered(?) to share her talent.
Her request was granted by the teachers and she came up to the center stage on the grass. She pulled out a cassette tape, a hat, and a glove from her backpack. She removed her eyeglasses and put a cassette tape in a boom box that someone brought (FYI, I grow up in a boom box generation in the 80th).
There was a song, “Billy Jean”‘ by Michael Jackson. She started dancing. The moon walk, the crotch holding motion, the facial expression w/ lip sync…, she did everything just like MJ…, even better. We were all shocked, even the teachers. That thick glass wearing shy girl was dancing like a pro. Who knew that she had so much passion inside of her?
Of course on the next day, she woke up to be the most popular girl at school. And everybody was practicing the moon walk, even the teachers…
I think of Mi-gyoung many times especially when I make Kimbap; the food we had the day when she showed her real side. I realized that day that one can never judge or underestimate potential of the others.
I am going to share my mother’s Kimbap recipe for that memory. Her Kimbap taste different than most other Korean Kimbap. She adapted Japanese sushi rice method. You will see what I mean by looking through the tutorial.
First, rice! Short grain rice, of course.
Rinse several times until you get clear water. You will need a little less water than usual. Add dried sea kelp (kombu) and let them soak in the water for 30 minutes. Remove the sea kelp when the rice start to initial boil.
You can use rice cooker but I like to use cast iron pot. When the rice starts boil reduce heat to low and cover with a heavy lid, simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 more minutes. The steam in the pot will do the marvelous job cooking.
Meanwhile prepare the vinegar mixture by mixing 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 4 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Make sure all the sugar and salt have dissolved in vinegar.
The rice is done! ♪♫ You are so beautiful… to me! ♪♫
While rice is still hot pour the vinegar mixture to the rice in a big bowl. Wooden bowl is the best if you have. Do not mix harshly. You don’t want to smash them. Just use cutting motion with tip of the rice scoop.
I added some sesame seeds. Toss them gently. The rice is done, cover with damp towel and let them cool completely.
Meanwhile get the filling ready.
I invited 6 guys to be my guests. Spinach, imitation crab, pickled radish, carrot, eggs, fish cakes.
For the seaweed, choose plain roasted seaweeds without any flavor added.
Cut your beautiful carrots into 3/8″ thick strips. Steam them until nice and tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Fry eggs and slice into strips as well.
This is fish cake. slice into 3/8″ strips.
Fry them with some soy sauce and sugar.
Slice the pickled radish the same way you did with carrot. Make sure you rinse the radish out of package before slicing.
Get a bowl of water near you. Why? In case you get thirsty…, just kidding!
Your finger will need water.
Place a piece of seaweed shiny side down, longer side toward you. Put about 2/3 cup of rice spreading evenly covering about 2/3 of seaweed. You will want to dip your finger as you do this job so the rice won’t stick on you. But limit the dipping to a minimum.
Now build your kingdom, artistically! Leave about 1″ at front edge and 2″ in the back of rice.
The fun part has began! Lift up the front side of bamboo roll and carefully roll over the filling to cover, tightly pressing down the edge with your fingers. This will secure the fillings to be in place.
Pull the front side of bamboo roll away from you with right hand a little by little, tightening with your left fingers as you rolling.
Keep pulling and tightening as you sing along “♪ Billy Jean is not my lover… ♫”
At the end, wrap it around and gently squeeze to secure.
Unwrap! Ta-da! I call this “black beauty”.
Now give yourself a good moonwalk at this point.
Drizzle sesame oil on your hand and rub around the surface of the Kimbap. This will add shine and glory to these guys! Slice each Kimbap into whatever size you desire.
And sing along the song of my choice, even better if you can moonwalk.
“Billy Jean is not my lover
She just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the Kid is not my son… ”
Michael Jackson, the king of pop…
Thank you Mi-gyoung
Wherever you are…, my dear friend.
Korean seaweed rice rolls (Kimbap)
- 3 cups short grain sushi rice
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 large piece dried sea kelp aka; dishima or kombu
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 4 Tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds optional
- 1-2 carrots sliced into 3/8" strips
- 3 eggs beaten with pinch salt
- 1 pickled radish sliced into long 3/8" strips
- 1 bunch spinach blanched
- 1 sheet flat fish cake cut into 3/8" strips
- 4 long imitation crab strips cut into make 3 strips each
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- 10 sheets dry roasted seaweed
- sesame oil for rubbing
- Rinse rice several times until you get the clear water. Drain and add given amount of water and sea kelp, let it soak for 30 minutes. Remove the sea kelp and cook the rice in a rice cooker.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk rice vinegar, sugar and salt until sugar and and salt dissolve completely.
- When the rice is ready, transfer into large wooden or glass bowl, add the vinegar mixture and toss thoroughly together with cutting motion. Do not smash the rice. Sprinkle sesame seeds if you like. Cover the rice with damp towel and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile prepare the filling.
- Steam the carrot strips until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Fry the beaten eggs in a skillet with a little oil. Cut into 3/8" strips. Fry the fish cake strips with soy sauce and sugar for 2 minutes. Cut pickled radish into strips. Season the blanched spinach with a little salt and sesame oil. Cut the imitation crab meat into strips.
- Prepare a bowl with water on the side. Spread a sheet of seaweed over the bamboo sushi roll, put about 1/2 cup or more of seasoned rice and spread evenly over about 2/3 of seaweed. You want to dip your fingers in the water so the rice won't stick. Minimize the dipping if possible.
- Place the fillings one at a time over the rice toward you leaving 1" in the front and 2" in the back of rice. Lift up the front side of seaweed and carefully and quickly roll over the filling to cover the fillings. Gently squeeze the edge over the bamboo roll. Lift up the edge of bamboo roll and pull away from you to roll up the seaweed a little by little and squeeze the edges as you roll. AT the end wrap the entire seaweed roll with bamboo roll and gently squeeze to secure. When all the seaweed rolls are completed into logs, put a little bit of sesame oil on your palm and rub the surface of the seaweed logs. Ths will gives nice shine yet protect them from getting dry.
- Slice the each logs about 1/2" thick slices and enjoy the fruit of your labor.