Kimbap is the Korean equivalent of sushi and a street food staple. Pretty much anything goes for the filling so it’s a great way of using up leftovers. Here I’ve kept it simple with mixed veg, but you could add strips of roast meat, flaked tuna or even crabsticks. Gochugaru is dried red pepper powder, with a hot, spicy and slightly smoky taste, and although kimbap would traditionally be served without a dipping sauce, this is a combination I just can’t resist.
Tip the rice into a sieve and rinse well under cold running water, then add to a saucepan along with 375ml cold water and the salt. Set over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a minimum, leaving to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and rest, covered, for a further 15 minutes. Season the rice with the rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Set aside while you prepare the fillings.
Make an omelette by adding 1 teaspoon sesame oil to a small frying pan and setting it over a high heat. When it’s really hot, tip in the beaten egg, using a fork to scoop away the cooked edges from the sides of the pan to allow the uncooked egg to slide into contact with the base. If your pan is hot enough it should take less than a minute to cook. Slide on to a board and chop into 1cm strips. Set aside.
Wipe out the frying pan with kitchen paper, add another teaspoon of sesame oil and set back over the heat. Add the carrots and stir fry for a couple of minutes to soften a little. They should still have plenty of crunch. Set aside.
Add the damp spinach to a large saucepan and set over a medium heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow to wilt for a few minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure it wilts evenly. Allow to cool until you can handle it, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop roughly and drizzle over a teaspoon of sesame oil and season with a little grind of black pepper. Set aside. Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.
When you are ready to roll, clear the worktop to give you plenty of space, and lay the bamboo mat in front of you, with the long side facing you. Lay a sheet of seaweed, shiny side down, on to the mat. Take a scoop of the seasoned rice and spread it in an even layer over the bottom two-thirds of the sheet, leaving a 1cm border all around. If you want to make sure you are dividing your pan of rice evenly, spread out all 5 sheets of seaweed and spread the rice out over all of them. You can then slide them on to the mat in turn.
Now it’s time to add the fillings – you want to line them up on the rice in neat rows, as close to each other as possible, starting with the carrots furthest away from you, leaving a 2cm margin of plain rice. Follow the carrots with the spinach, omelette and lastly the daikon.
To roll, begin at the edge nearest to you and roll up the mat over the rice, tucking the edge of the seaweed sheet over first. Keep rolling, using the mat to help you and pressing firmly as you go to squeeze everything together tightly into a sausage shape. Once you reach the other edge of the seaweed sheet, moisten it with a little dab of water before rolling all the way over to stick the seaweed together. It does take a little bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it you will work fast! Repeat with the remaining sheets and fillings.
Take a very sharp knife and use a piece of kitchen paper to dab a little sesame oil on to the blade. This will help prevent sticking. Slice each roll into generous 1cm pieces, re-oiling the knife every now and then. Eat straight away with the dipping sauce alongside, or refrigerate until needed.