Last time I made kimbap, I used a recipe I found on rasamalaysia.com. I was surprised at how easy it was to make these vegetarian/vegan treats that are great as a side or snacks.

Since then, I found a kimbap recipe from David Chang that was inspired from food he found on his trip to a Buddhist temple in South Korea. Traditional kimbap has vegetables as the filling, and this recipe adds soy beans and walnuts that has been caramelized in a soy-molasses sauce to the filling, which lends a surprising savory, and filling flavor to the kimbaps.

The recipe calls for some items I did not have on hand, like shiso leaves or Japanese pickled daikon, so I substituted sauteed spinach leaves and skipped the pickled daikon. For the spinach, I heated a medium pan to medium heat and sauteed the spinach until it was wilted, and set it aside for the kimbap assembly.

To make the soy bean and walnut filling, shelled and coarsely chopped walnuts are toasted in a pan with some olive oil. Then shelled soy beans (edamame), soy sauce and molasses are added to the pan.

After a few minutes, the soy beans and walnuts should be coated in a sticky sauce, toasted sesame seeds are stirred into the pan.

To assemble the Kimbaps, a sheet of nori is placed on top of a sushi mat, or if you don’t have one, just substitute a big piece of plastic wrap. Cooked and cooled sushi rice is smeared on a sheet of nori 2/3 of the way up, making sure to put a few grains on the top corners of the nori sheet to help adhesion. Sauteed spinach, julienne’d carrots, the soy bean and walnut filling are placed about 1/2 way on top of the rice, making sure to leave about 1 inch open on the bottom of the rice.

Use the sushi mat, or the plastic wrap, to roll up the nori sheet from the bottom, try to roll it as tightly as possible.

Use the few grains of rice at the top of the nori sheet to close the roll, and the roll can be sliced into 1/2 inch rounds.

The rolls can be eaten warm or be kept at room temp with plastic wrap over it for a few hours. I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top to finish the rolls.

To go with the Kimbap, I made Korean Chicken Soup, or Samgyetang. Samgyetang is a very traditional Korean soup that is usually eaten during the hottest days of summer to help regain the stamina that the body has lost during the heat. There are restaurants that are dedicated to serving Samgyetang in Korea, and nowadays people eat them year round. Samgyetang is a very good example of how Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine consider and incorporate the health benefits of ingredients into everyday food. People there don’t eat just for the taste and for fuel, but also for it’s medicinal and therapeutic qualities. I always love this fact about Asian Cuisine.

The soup it self really does all it can to let the ingredients speak for it self. A small chicken is stuffed full of sticky rice, dried jujubes, and ginseng ( I substituted ginger), tied together to make sure the filling doesn’t spill out, then slowly simmered for 1 or 2 hours until the chicken meat is falling off the bone, that is the entire recipe.

The chicken I used is one that my mother raised in her garden. My parents grow their own groceries and raise their own chicken, and they are always bringing me tons of vegetables, fresh eggs, and freshly killed free range chicken when they visit. The chicken is a lot smaller than the chicken you’d buy at American grocery stores, and the meat a lot tougher so it took longer too cook. Cornish game hens would be a good substitute.

The sticky rice, or sweet rice, needs to be soaked in cold water for a few hours or over night before using. Fresh Ginseng is available at the local Korean Grocery but I didn’t have time to go get it at the store, so I substituted ginger. I sliced about 2 inches of ginger to about 1/3 inch thick, and they are the first thing I stuffed the chicken with.

Next, I pressed in about 1/2 cup of sweet rice and dried jujube. Take care not to over stuff the chicken, since the rice will expand during the cooking process.

I finished stuffing the chicken with some scallions, and some more ginger.

Then I took care to tie up the chicken so that the stuffing will not spill out during the cooking process. You can also use metal skewers to close the chicken up.

The chicken should be lowered into a boiling pot of water, and then the heat reduced and simmered for about 1 hour for the rice to cook through. Since my chicken is a lot leaner than store bought chicken, I gave another 45 minutes to my soup.

The chicken is removed and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Depending on what type of chicken you use, you might notice there is a layer of oil or fat on the surface of your soup. You should skim as much oil as possible from the surface of the soup, otherwise it will taste very greasy. The finished soup should be clear or slightly whitish. The chicken soup up to this point has not been seasoned, so season to taste with salt and pepper, and you can also sprinkle some chopped scallions in the soup.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, you can untie it and take a peek inside.

The rice should be glutinous, soft, and it should have absorbed the flavors of the chicken as it cooked slowly from the inside.
I scooped the rice out and stripped the chicken meat from its bones, then I divided the rice and the meat in two bowls, and topped them off with chicken soup.

Korean Sushi Rolls with Walnut Crumble

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