Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! (on Wednesday): Gimbob and cornc edition

For this week's Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! (on Wednesday) I bring you my seasonal Midwestern version of a Korean staple: gimbob (aka kimbob, aka gimbap, aka kimbap...you get the idea). A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me and the kids over for lunch at her house, where she taught us how to make gimbob and they gobbled it up like trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. Since then, we've made it a few times, and we've all declared it a favorite.

Gimbob is essentially Korean-style sushi: sticky rice and various other things wrapped in sheets of toasted seaweed and sliced into cute little rounds. It's delicious and easy* and perfect for a summer meal since it doesn't require much actual cooking.  More on that in a minute.

Of course, fresh corn on the cob is a quintessential summer side dish. Whether or not it's an appropriate accompaniment to gimbob I don't know, but I happen to think they go pretty well together. Step one for TNFC (on Wednesday) was for Daniel and Anya to shuck a few ears of corn, an activity best done outside, as you can see:

That task done, they happily trotted inside to enjoy some screen time while I boiled the corn and got everything out for the gimbob. I have to confess here that we had gimbob for lunch yesterday as well, and there was enough stuff leftover that I didn't really need the kids' help preparing anything, except for throwing some more rice into the cooker. Yes, they had it easy this time. No, I don't really care. It's mid-August already.

Seaweed and filling!
So what are all of those things pictured above? The bottom of the picture is a sheet of toasted seaweed sitting on a bamboo rolling mat and a big bowl of sticky rice. Less obvious are the items above. From the top left: a thin omelette cut into strips (the dark spots are finely chopped beet greens I sneaked in, which probably isn't the least bit authentic), fish cakes warmed up and cut into strips (you can find these in the frozen section of your local Asian market, and I believe their express purpose is sushi/gimbob filling), cheese sticks cut into thin strips (again, not authentic, but these were some weirdly unsalted ones from Trader Joe's that none of us wants to eat plain), and then that plate on the right contains carrots, cucumber and pickled daikon cut into thin strips. Youngjoo - my culinary mentor in these matters - tells me you can put essentially whatever you want into gimbob, but it should be colorful like a rainbow (hence the garishly yellow pickled radish).

I hesitate to provide instruction here because I'm really quite a novice at this dish. And what follows is not so much a recipe as a few guidelines. Still, I'll do my best.

First, you have to have a bamboo sushi mat. They are inexpensive and easy enough to find.

Once you have your ingredients assembled, place one sheet of seaweed shiny side down on the mat. Spread sticky rice all over the seaweed except for about an inch on the top and bottom. Lay strips of your choice of filling about 1/3 of the way up the rice and squish it together before rolling it up, using the mat to squeeze as you go so that the thing holds together.  (*I have yet to master this skill. Remember when I said this dish is delicious and easy? It's easy if you are a novice and don't much care when it falls apart because you stuffed too much in the roll and didn't squeeze it tightly enough. I'm still learning this lesson.)

Daniel seems to have the hang of it, but he wouldn't let me take a whole video, lest he reveal his trade secret, so you'll have to make do with this snapshot.

Anya had just a bit of help with hers, and she proudly held up her roll:

Now, I'm no expert on Korean or Japanese food, but I gather that the main difference between them is what you serve alongside the rolls. Last month when she taught us this dish, Youngjoo didn't have pickled ginger or wasabi paste or any of the things you typically eat with Japanese sushi. Instead, she simply  rolled the gimbob in toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds drizzled on a cutting board before slicing it. 

And there it is! Sliced and ready to eat. You can dip in soy sauce if you choose.

This is Daniel's plate. See how nicely his holds together? I aspire to this.


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