Kimbap is that snack we have all seen around. Whether it’s in a long tube, sliced pieces or even triangles, it’s instantly recognisable and yet so often confused.
The word kimbap is formed from the Korean words for the two main ingredients the food consists of – Kim, which is seaweed, or laver, and bap, which simply means rice. These are only the start, though. The filling for kimbap can vary wildly, depending on what the person eating it enjoys. Unlike Sushi, which kimbap is often mistaken for, raw fish doesn’t have to be present. Although crab is a common filling, marinated beef, or Bulgogi, is frequently used, alongside various different vegetables. There can be cucumber, sausage, or even egg. Many different combinations can be used. This is all rolled within sticky white rice, or formed into a shape, covering the filling. Following that, wrapped around the outside is sheets of dried seaweed.
Of course, this makes it very easy and convenient to eat. It’s a perfect on the go snack to grab if you’re feeling peckish. It’s also a frequent sight in lunchboxes; a Korean version of a sandwich.
So where does it come from?
The origin of Kimbap remains a little harder to pin down. Although it is likely sourced from two places, it could be a combination of both. Some state, due to its similarities with a type of Japanese Sushi called norimaki, that kimbap started as a Korean take on the famous dish. Due to the closeness between the two countries (both in geographical location and their histories, which have not always been peaceful), this is highly possible. Another theory suggests that kimbap is a progression from kimssam, a rice and seaweed wrap eaten in as early a the Goryeo period of Korea. The two could have combined along the way, with laver coming to replace the outer wrap as more things were adopted from Japan.
The name itself is actually quite a new addition as a compound word. Before kimbap was used, bokssam was recorded in Yeoryang Sesigi, a Joseon book from 1819. The tradition of rolling rice in seaweed has remained since then, the fillings likely coming from the addition of banchan, Korean side dishes, into the mix. Only with newer ideas and influences did it change into the gimbap that is so familiar today.
Featured Image Source: 07.062017 Inspire Me Korea