I've never realized just how much food a three year can consume on a daily basis. To be fair, I now look back to childhood and while I acknowledge I was probably the reason why my parents had to work double time--since I was a food enthusiast ever since I was able to stammer the words "ppee-jjee" (my version of "kimchi")--it's a whole different experience now that my own three year old is eating and growing so quickly. It makes my momma's heart happy to know she has a healthy appetite for sure, but that also means we need to make further adjustments all around.
In the name of exercising self control when it comes to eating out, I finally embrace the fact that it is much more economical to make my own tuna kimbap (참치 김밥) instead of making routine drop-ins at one of my favorite Korean restaurants in Torrance. This version is how I normally prefer and while I encourage you to be adventurous with your own fillings, it's essential to keep it true to the customary ratios of fibrous vegetables, a healthy dose of sodium, pickled radish (it's a must!), and of course, tuna. I hope you give this a try and if tuna isn't your protein of choice, use my recipe for beef kimbap but of course, you can make it vegetarian altogether.
Kimbap is one of those foods that are perfect for a packed lunch or as a picnic item. Nostalgia is what comes to mind for most of us who grew up in a Korean household.
Tuna Kimbap 참치 김밥
Ingredients for tuna filling
two 5-ounce cans of tuna
3 tbsp mayo
3 tbsp plain greek yogurt
1/4 tsp salt+sprinkle black pepper
1. Drain and squeeze water or liquid out of the tuna as thoroughly as possible.
2. Mix in mayo, greek yogurt, salt, and pepper with a fork. If you prefer, omit the yogurt and use more mayo instead. Set aside.
Ingredients for spinach filling
water for blanching (slightly boiling)
one large bunch of raw spinach
1 tsp sugar
black pepper to taste
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp vinegar
1. Rinse raw spinach thoroughly, leaving the stems on.
2. Bring water to a boil on medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook spinach for about 1 minute or until spinach is slightly cooked.
3. Drain water and squeeze out as much water as you possible can.
4. Mix in sugar, black pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Set aside.
Ingredients for carrot filling
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 tsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 tsp salt+sprinkle black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1. In a wok or skillet over medium heat, cook carrots in oil for about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, minced garlic, and cook for approximately 2 more minutes or until it is slightly tender. Set aside.
4-6 nori sheets (김)
2 1/2-3 cups cooked short grain rice (sushi rice)
1/2 a large cucumber, cut into matchsticks
about 4-6 pickled radish strips
1. Lay a nori sheet on clean, flat surface. Thinly spread approximately 1/2 cup of cooked rice (or maybe a little more, depending on your fillings) on the nori sheet, leaving about 1-2 inches of room on the end that is opposite of you.
2. Place one radish strip across the rice, a little closer to yourself rather than smack dab in the middle. Place cucumber matchstick pieces across, followed by carrots, spinach, and tuna.
3. Take hold of the nori sheet at the opposite end of you, and carefully roll it towards you, adjusting as needed and placing a little bit of force so it doesn't come loose. This part is a bit tricky so it might take some practice.
4. Repeat the previous steps and when ready to eat, slice them into 1/2-1 inch medallions.
5. Note: If needed, use a bamboo rolling mat which you can purchase at most Asian stores or here.