The Gimbap My Grandma Made At 5 AM Every Sunday

Refinery29's My Kitchen Sink is an exploration of our most meaningful recipes — the go-to dishes that we turn to time and again. Not only do we enjoy eating them, and have the assembly mastered, but they also have an important personal history. Step into our kitchens to relive these stories, learn the recipes, and make them with us.
Today, we're making gimbap, which translates to "seaweed and cooked rice." The Korean sliced roll recipe comes from a member of Refinery29's video operations team, Sarah Lee, who got it from her mama (who got it from her mama). “They’re special in my family, because growing up my grandma would wake up at five in the morning every Sunday to make them for my whole family. And now since she doesn't really cook a lot anymore, she taught her daughters (who are my aunts), my aunts taught my mom, and my mom taught me. So, it's kind of this whole family tradition that we try to carry on," says Sarah.
Sarah describes gimbap as similar to a Korean version of a sushi roll, but with cooked and pickled ingredients in place of raw fish, and swears by it as the ideal meal for packing and toting on-the-go: "It's very portable — you can literally eat it anywhere." Although the prep work takes a bit of time, the actual assembly of the rolls is a quick, customizable process. But the real recipe magic comes from the overall experience, "It's a fun, collaborative activity," says Sarah.
If you're interested in fun, communal, and portable food, then check out Sarah's gimbap recipe below — and tune in above to watch her make the dish at home with her mom. We're fully planning to join in on Sarah's cooking mantra that, "Everything tastes better with sesame oil!"
Makes 4 rolls to serve 2
Roll Ingredients
4 sheets dried seaweed
4-5 thin-long slices yellow pickled radish (soaked in sugar and vinegar)
4-5 thin-long slices cucumber or pickled cucumber (soaked in sugar and vinegar)
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
Daikon, thinly sliced
Imitation crab meat
3-4 eggs, fried and thinly sliced intro strips
4 slices Spam
4 slices fish cakes
Short grain sticky rice, cooked to package instructions
Pepper, to taste
Seasoning Ingredients (All To Taste)
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds
Soy sauce
Special Supplies
Bamboo mat
1. Cook the eggs over medium heat in a sauce pan along with slices of spam and fish cakes, seasoning with sesame oil and sugar to taste. Remove from pan once cooked through and blot out excess oil with paper towel before slicing into thin-long strips.
2. Slice all other ingredients into long slivers.
3. Prep the rice by mixing in sesame oil and sesame seeds. Lay the shiny part of the dried seaweed face-down and evenly spread the rice over two thirds of the seaweed, leaving the top part of it uncovered. Evenly spread the remaining prepared ingredients on top of the rice and roll the bamboo mat, firmly squeezing as you go. Leave a bit of uncovered rice on either end.
4. Dab water on the edge to seal the roll together. Rub sesame oil outside the roll to keep it compact and flavorful. Slice the roll into bite-size pieces with a sharp knife.

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