Monday, March 14, 2011

Cooking with Mom: Lesson #1 - Gimbap

I have this fear my mom will NEVER teach me how to make all her great Korean cuisine.  I think I have made it pretty clear how much I love food, but Korean food is #1 in my heart.  I can't even narrow it down to one specific dish.  You know those people that say they do not like Chinese food?  I always follow up that statement with, "You don't like ANY Chinese dish??  So you just dislike ALL Chinese food? I don't believe it."  I am the opposite, I love ALL Korean food...well, I haven't tried anything I didn't like thus far. 

Oh, I also don't like when people say they don't like sushi, but the only sushi they tried came from their local Chinese buffet.  Most of the time Chinese buffet sushi is EWH.  It's been sitting there for awhile and the rice is soggy with no flavor.  I digress...

So, I thought to begin my Korean culinary training with my mom I should start off with something basic - Gimbap (gim = seaweed  bap = rice).  My Korean is abysmal, but I know my food. LOL.  First I had to figure out how to get my mom to teach me.  It really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I just called her  up and asked her a few questions about gimbap which peaked her interest enough to ask me why I was asking so I told her I had bought all the stuff and planned on attempting it at home this weekend.  She then told me to come over and we would make them together.  Sweet

To be completely honest with you, I didn't think it was going to be THAT difficult...and I was kind of right.  It was TIME CONSUMING.  It is more prep work than anything. Let's begin.

Now keep in mind there are many different ingredients you can use for gimbap.  Some have even put cheese in it!  (My husband would totally be grossed out right now.) I have even had it with SPAM.  Don't knock spam people. It is the delicious processed meat we're all ashamed to like.  Here are the foods we used.  We made 1/2 with crab meat and 1/2 with bulgogi (Korean marinated beef).  BTW, burdock root is a crisp slender root with a slight sweet flavor.  The pickled radish is sweet as well.  On a side note, I have a friend that told me gimbap with just crab meat instead of bulgogi is considered "cheap gimbap" lol - it made me laugh. 

   First, we start off with steaming some rice.  You have to make sure the rice does not come out wet or soggy.  Once the rice is done, you will add some white rice vinegar and some toasted sesame seeds.  For about 2 cups of cooked rice, maybe about 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar.  You really just add to taste...little less, little more.  Spread the rice evenly over seaweed sheet. 

You will also need to prepare all the delicious goodies on the inside.  The sweet pickled radish, burdock root, and crab meat just needs to be sliced into strips out of the package.  Carrots, you will need to shred julienne style and throw those in a frying pan with some cooking oil and salt  and saute for a few minutes.  Cook until they are semi soft with a slight bite to them.  Spinach, you will boil a pot of water.  Once the water is fully boiling, you will add the spinach for about a minute...just enough time for them to wilt down. Rinse with cold water.  After you drain the spinach, you will mix in some sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and a little bit of sugar (1/2 a tsp for one bunch of spinach).  For the fried eggs, mix 4 eggs, a little salt and pepper and fry into a flat sheet, then cut into strips.  Fish cakes (yes, I know this doesn't sound good, but it is) you will cut into strips and fry those up as well (very little oil) until they are golden brown.  Fry these slowly.  

One trick is to put the julienne cut carrots in between 2 long strips of radish and burdock to keep them in place.  My mom made the first batch and then I made the second.  This is when I learned it was not as simple as my mom made it look all these years. 

See how you don't see the spinach and carrots very well?  In the words of my mother, "It doesn't look pretty."  Food needs to be pleasing to the eye first.  My first few rolls of gimbap did not look as colorful as they should be.  I tried again and overcompensated and made them way too thick.  I could barely roll them shut!  Around the end of the "session" I got the hang of it.  Oh yeah, after you roll it, you rub a little bit of sesame oil on the outside.

Hamulnee (g-ma) feeding Christian.  He would not stay out of the kitchen. 
He crawled in there about a dozen times just staring @ the food like he had
never been fed before.  See the rice stuck to his face.  That's my classy kid.

Good News: My cousin and her husband in Japan are safe.  They were not in the area of the tsunami. We should keep those in Japan in our prayers.


sacha said...

love your mom's food! i am so thankful i know how yummy it is!

Sue said...

Wow. I mean...WOW.

Raegun said...

That looks sooooo good. With a little practice, maybe even I could tackle this! :)

youngsun said...

hey! came across your blog from your facebook entry..i didn't know you had a blog....great blog and nice pics too... kimbap looks yummy! i envy gals who get to learn from their mamas..i had to learn on my own. you are so lucky... and christian is lucky to have such a lovely mom and grandma!

Sara said...

So, I totally just referenced this post because I was looking at different restaurants around where I work. There is a Korean restaurant I'm thinking about trying, and after reading the menu I thought...I remember a blog about this once. So I had to come back a read it know, so I'll know about at least one dish when I go!

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