From Korea with Love

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How to Make Tasty Tuna Kim Bop

It’s going to be spring soon. Here in Korea, spring is the best time to go on a picnic, and a typical Korean picnic will not be complete without 김밥 (kimbap) in your lunch box. Kimbap is a dish similar to sushi rolls, made from steamed white rice, meat and vegetables that are rolled in dried seaweed. There are many kinds of kimbap, but my favorite is 참치김밥 (chamchi kimbap) or tuna rice rolls.

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Last night, I made kimbap for my husband’s midnight snack. I remember the first time I made kimbap was with him. We used to have a cooking project every Sunday, and the first recipe we ever made together was tuna kimbap. We ate our tuna kimbap with some meat and red wine. Delicious! ^^

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Making tuna kimbap is very simple, but you might need more time in preparing the dish.

To make tasty tuna kimbap, you will need the following ingredients and materials:

1. a can of tuna

2. yellow pickled radish (You can buy a pack of yellow radish already cut for kimbap in your nearest Korean grocery store.)

3. crab sticks (A pack of 6 pieces will do. If you plan to make more rice rolls, you can cut a piece into two to make a dozen. ^^)

4. ham (You can buy ham for kimbap, but if you have ham for sandwich in your fridge, that will do, too. Just cut them into strips.) (Ham is optional for tuna kimbap. ^^)

5. julienned carrots (If you don’t like carrots, you can use other vegetables like cucumber or 우엉, seasoned burdock roots called ueong in Korea.)

6. 오뎅: fish cake or odeng (cut in strips) (There are odeng sticks for kimbap, but I like to use the one for making odeng soup, because it’s tastier.)

7. 2 eggs (salted and beaten)

8. sesame leaves (optional)

9. mayonnaise

10. a pack of dried and unsalted 김 for kimbap: seaweed or kim

11. steamed ‘sticky’ rice

12. salt

13. sesame oil

14. sesame seeds

15. bamboo mat

15. tray

16. brush

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Here are the procedures:

PREPARING THE RICE:

1. Put 5 or 6 cups of steamed ‘sticky’ rice in a large bowl. Add some salt and a few drops of sesame oil, according to your taste.

2. Mix rice and seasoning thoroughly.

3. Set aside and let the rice cool for a while.

PREPARING THE TUNA:

1. Open a can of tuna. Using a strainer, drain the oil.

2. Put the tuna flakes in a bowl. Add mayonnaise and salt, according to your taste. (I like mayo, so I put A LOT in my tuna. ^^) Some people like tuna cooked. You can cook the tuna for a minute or two with a little sesame oil, minced garlic, chopped onions, salt and pepper.

3. Set aside. (If you decided to cook the tuna, let it cool for a while.)

PREPARING OTHER INGREDIENTS:

1. Saute ham, sliced fish cake and carrots in butter or oil.

2. Whisk eggs until yellow, add some salt and fry into an omelet. After cooking, cut the eggs into strips.

3. Remove water from the yellow pickled radish.

4. Remove crab sticks from their cellophane/wrap. If they are thicker or bigger, cut them into two, lengthwise.

5. In a large tray or a big plate, place all the ingredients.

6. Wash the sesame leaves and put them in a strainer to get rid of the water. They should be dry when you use them later.

7. Pour some sesame oil into a small bowl.

8. Make sure that you have cleaned your bamboo mat and brush before using them.

9. It would be better to have another large tray where you will make and roll kimbap.

Now let’s make tuna kimbap! ^^

1. Lay a sheet of dried and unsalted seaweed on the bamboo mat. (The shiny side of the seaweed should be facing down.)

2. Spread rice evenly onto the center of the seaweed. (You can moisten your fingers with a little sesame oil or water, so the rice won’t stick to your fingers and make a mess… or you can use disposable plastic gloves.)

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3. Place each of the ingredients on top of the rice: ham, fish cake, crab stick, egg, yellow pickled radish and two julienned carrots.

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3. Lay two sesame leaves on top of the vegetables and meat added earlier.

4. Spread tuna onto the sesame leaves.

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4. Roll the seaweed with the rice and other ingredients from the bottom using the bamboo mat. Gently press down as you roll to make the fillings stay in place.

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5. Using a brush, dab a little sesame oil (or water) along the fold to hold the roll together.

6. Tadaaah! Don’t they look appetizing? You can sprinkle some sesame seeds onto the rolls.

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…or if you are a ‘mayo-holic’ like me, you can put some mayo on top of your kimbap… yum-yum! ^^

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7. My husband and I like to eat our kimbap whole, but if you are going on a picnic, of course, you will have to cut your kimbap. To make cutting easy, wet a paper towel with sesame oil or water and wipe the knife with it before cutting the rolls.

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The one on the left is tuna kimbap; on the right is ham and cheese kimbap. I made these last week. ^^


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Free Food Madness

One of the things my husband and I enjoy every time we shop for groceries in Korea is the free food. If you go to Homeplus or Emart on the weekend, you will find free food in almost every food section, such as mandu (dumpling), ham, sausage, chicken nuggets, noodles, cheese, bread, cereal, fruit, and would you believe, even samgyupsal and galbi? Drinks like coffee, juice, milk, yogurt drink and other new beverages are also offered to shoppers.

Every time we go to the Philippines and shop for pasalubong (gift), my husband would ask why there aren’t any free food and drinks in the grocery store. This year’s vacation, however, he didn’t need to ask me the same thing, because he FINALLY found a booth in SM Hypermarket that gives free noodles. He was so excited to get a freebie from a Filipino grocery store for the first time that he actually looked like a four-year old waiting for the ice cream man to come. He was the only one in there who seemed interested in getting free noodles, while other shoppers were busy with their shopping. I thought that scenario was amusing, so I got my camera and took my husband’s photo as he was waiting for his noodles. Just then, one of the staff members approached me and said that taking pictures in the grocery store is not allowed. I asked him why. He told me it’s their policy in SM. I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so I kept probing until the man didn’t know what to say anymore. Hubby got his free noodles and told me to stop torturing the poor staff member.

I got thirsty from complaining about SM’s policy of “keeping their grocery store TOP SECRET”, so I was looking for something to drink. Good thing, my husband spotted free coffee. I suddenly remembered Korea where there’s free coffee anywhere you go. We were each given a paper cup filled to the brim. That’s the Filipino way of drinking coffee… the cup is always full. In Korea, it’s usually half a cup.

Hubby liked the coffee, so he bought a 30-piece pack of the new Kopiko Astig. If you like strong coffee, like my husband, you may like this flavor, but as for me, Kopiko Brown is still the best instant coffee in the Philippines. ^^

 

My husband and I should have a shopping motto: It’s not the freebie that counts, but the excitement of getting something for free. ^^