Julie’s California Kimbap
I’ve been a bit MIA because of our new business. I’m still trying to work out the balance of running a business and being a blogger at the same time. I’m not gonna lie, some days I just can’t motivate myself to be creative, entertaining, or charming. And not to get all depressing on you or anything, but I’ve been having a few health issues too. But everything is on its way to getting resolved now, so it’s time to saddle up the horse again.
This recipe was invented after I felt like eating a California Roll, you know the Japanese maki or rice rolls that are filled with crab, avocado, and cucumber. But the problem was, I didn’t have crab or cucumber. However, I did have turkey bacon, perilla (sesame) leaves, and alfalfa sprouts! By the way, if you put turkey bacon, avocado and sprouts together in a sandwich, it’s the bomb diggity- which is probably why I had those ingredients in the first place.
In an earlier entry, I gave you the recipe for traditional beef kimbap, or Korean rice rolls, where the flavor comes mostly from sesame oil and individually seasoned ingredients. At the end of the entry, I promised to one day post a “Julie version” of kimbap, which requires simpler ingredients and less prep time. So today is the day I deliver.
Unlike traditional kimbap, my version requires less things to be cooked and prepped. The ingredients are pretty humble and usually easy to find, especially in California where we live. The only thing that might trip you up are the perilla leaves. Perilla, or sesame leaves, are found in Korean grocery stores in the produce section. They have a similar quality and taste as mint, but not as sharp. You can eat them raw, cooked, or marinated in soy sauce.
When you add them raw to a dish, they add a fragrance and intense freshness that I truly adore. But if you can’t find them, you can substitute with a mixture of fresh mint and arugula. Just stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them up, and run your knife across them to create thin julienned strips.
The avocados are simply peeled, pitted, and sliced. Don’t you just love avocados? I’ll gravitate towards anything on a menu if it says there are avocados on it.
Then the main flavor component comes from sizzling, slightly crisp, yet still flexible turkey bacon. I have fond memories of turkey bacon. In college, my friend and I would always eat the same breakfast sandwich off of our favorite food truck…egg whites, turkey bacon and cheese on a roll. Yum!
Then, peel and julienne a large carrot and saute the strips in olive oil and a little salt. Lastly, assemble your rice, by adding olive oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds and salt to cooled freshly cooked rice. Season your rice last, after all the other ingredients are prepped. To see the photo tutorials for the carrots and rice, refer to the photos from my beef kimbap recipe entry.
Then there’s nothing left to do but grab yourself a bamboo mat and some dried laver seaweed or nori. Place the shiny side down, and throw on an even layer of seasoned rice. Only go up about two-thirds of the way of the nori. Then when you start placing your ingredients on top, make sure you leave 1″ of rice at the bottom, and 2″ of rice at the top.
One strip of turkey bacon will be fine, but if you want to be greedy, you can add two. Sprouts and avocado go next, in neat rows.
And you finish off with two more neat rows of the julienned sauteed carrots, and fresh perilla leaves. The key is to not over-stuff this baby, or it will explode and become a hot mess.
See here? See what I’m doing? That’s why you need to leave that border of rice on the top and bottom. You grab your bamboo mat and try to touch the rice to the rice so it will stick. That’s your first roll. Squeeze tightly all across.
Then you pull the mat up a little away from you, allowing the kimbap to roll with it, and squeeze again. Eventually, roll the whole bad boy up into the mat, pick it up and squeeze again. For the photo tutorial, again, please refer to my beef kimbap recipe entry.
When all your kimbap are rolled, you grab a brush or a gloved hand and lightly caress them with a bit of sesame oil. Don’t go to town. Sesame oil is strong stuff. This will give your kimbap a nice sheen and added taste.
It sometimes helps to lightly touch the blade of your knife with some sesame oil too, and then you slice away. Make sure your knife is sharp, and be brave when you slice. If you’re intimidated, your kimbap will know, and it will die on you. So be bold and go for it! Traditional kimbap is cut on the skinny side, but if you’re scared, forget that, and just cut big ol’ chunks.
Then enjoy as is, or go nuts like me and decorate with extra toppings, just for fun!
This California kimbap is fresh and crunchy from all the vegetables, creamy from the avocado, and decadent from the turkey bacon. And you can go a little topping-happy like me and load up the bacon and sprouts. This would be a good thing to do especially if you wanted to serve kimbap as appetizers at your next party. It’s so colorful and fun!
You can even take it a step further and pair some of the California Kimbap with the traditional beef kimbap pieces. It’s nice to have variety. And as always, kimbap should be eaten on the same day it’s made. However, if you do have leftovers, put them in the fridge and the next day, dip them in egg and fry them. Go here for the how-to. So next time you want kimbap in a hurry, be creative and rummage through your fridge. Then you can come up with some deliciously crazy concoctions of your own.
- 6-7 sheets dried laver seaweed
- 7 slices turkey bacon, plus extra if you desire garnish
- 1 large or 2 medium carrot(s), peeled and julienned
- 2 cups alfalfa sprouts
- 2-3 avocados, sliced
- 15 sesame or perilla leaves
- Kosher salt, divided
- Sesame oil, divided
- Olive oil, divided
- Roasted sesame seeds, divided
- 6 cups cooked (3 cups uncooked) short grain or sushi rice
- ½ Tbsp Sesame Oil
- ½ Tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ Tbsp Sesame Seeds
- In a large pan, cook the strips of turkey bacon until they are lightly browned and slightly crisp, but still flexible. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate to cool. Peel, pit and slice the avocado and set aside. Stack the perilla leaves and roll them tightly. Then run your knife through them lengthwise to create thin julienned slices. Measure out the alfalfa sprouts and set aside.
- Peel and slice your carrot(s) thinly on a diagonal. Lay the slices flat and run your knife through them lengthwise to create thin julienned slices. Saute them in a pan with some olive oil and season with a couple pinches of salt to taste. Set aside.
- Mix the rice last. After all the ingredients are prepped, place the 6 cups of cooked rice into a large bowl, along with the other ingredients for the rice. Mix gently, and get everything ready for assembly.
- Place a sheet of dried laver seaweed, shiny side down, on a bamboo mat. Starting from the bottom, spread some rice in a thin even layer, filling about ⅔ of the seaweed sheet.
- All of the filling that goes on top of the rice should start at 1” from the bottom, and have 2” of rice above it. Place the strip of turkey bacon first. On top of the bacon, place the slices of avocado and alfalfa sprouts in neat rows. Finish with a row of julienned carrots, and a row of the julienned perilla leaves on top of the sprouts.
- Starting from the bottom, roll the seaweed sheet, using the mat. The first roll should land right where that excess rice is. That will help it stick together. Gently push and squeeze down on the bamboo mat. Move the mat a litttle further away from you, allowing the kimbap to roll with it. Again, squish down and press with your hands. Then wrap and roll the entire kimbap up in the mat. Squeeze firmly across the entire length of the mat to make the sure the kimbap is tight. If you’re having trouble keeping the seaweed shut, add a few grains of the rice at the edge of the seaweed sheet.
- Use a brush or a gloved hand to put some sesame oil on the surface of the kimbap rolls. This adds flavor and helps keep the kimbap shiny. It also helps to add a little sesame oil to your knife blade. With a sharp knife, slice the kimbap into thin half inch or bite sized pieces. Kimbap is characteristically thinner than Japanese maki. You can then sprinkle on some more roasted sesame seeds and garnish the rolls with extra avocado, turkey bacon, sprouts, or perilla leaves, if desired. Pop it into your mouth and enjoy your hard work!
TIP: If you can’t find perilla (sesame) leaves, try using a mix of fresh mint leaves and arugula!