I’m finally sharing this gimbap recipe I made last summer for visitors from a Korean TV network, BTN (Buddhist Television Network). They were traveling to film a documentary about Korean temple cuisine in America. I made some temple dishes — this gimbap and hobak mandu (zucchini dumplings), and shared my thoughts on them for their program. The gimbap recipe came from the book titled “ Temple Food of Venerable Seonjae”, which is authored by a Buddhist nun, Ven. Seonjae (선재스님), a master of Korean temple cuisine.
This version of the gimbap recipe replaces the meat in the traditional gimgap with tofu and also uses homemade braised burdock root (ueong jorim) as a filling. The tofu is shallow-fried in oil until golden brown and crispy. Frying gives the tofu a nice texture and flavor. You can buy burdock root premade for gimbap in the refrigerated section of a Korean market, but temple food is all about fresh vegetables and homemade ingredients. It’s pretty simple to make at home!
I’ve made this tofu gimbap several times since the BTN visit. Loved it every time! You won’t miss the meat. It is perfect if you are looking for a vegan gimbap recipe!
The tableware shown in the final photos of this post are sponsored by Huue Craft, an online store dedicated to the finest Korean pottery tableware. They ship worldwide to over 25 countries. Visit Huue Craft online store for the beautiful tableware created by five of the renowned potters in Korea!
- 5 gim (aka nori) sheets
- 2 cups uncooked short grain rice (standard measuring cup not the cup that comes with a rice cooker) - see note
- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
- salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)
- 10 ounces firm tofu
- 1 bunch spinach (about 8 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 kirby cucumbers
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 burdock root (uoeong), braised - see the recipe
- sesame oil
- cooking oil
- Cook the rice using a little less water than usual. Fresh cooked rice is best for gimbap.
- Cut the tofu into about 3/4-inch thick sticks. Pat dry with a paper towel, and lightly sprinkle with salt. Heat a small pan with enough oil to cover the pan. Add the tofu pieces and fry until all sides are golden brown.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and prepare an ice bath. Blanch the spinach, place immediately in the ice bath, then squeeze out the water. Cut into short lengths by running a knife through a few of times. Season with the sesame oil (about 1/2 teaspoon) and salt.
- Cut the cucumber into 1/2-inch thick sticks. Do not use the seedy part. Heat the pan with a little bit of oil over medium high heat. Stir fry the cucumber until softened. Lightly season with salt.
- Julienne the carrots. Heat the pan with a little bit of oil over medium high heat. Stir fry the carrots until softened. Lightly season with salt.
- For the burdock root, see the recipe.
- When all the other ingredients are ready, remove the rice from the rice cooker. While the rice is still hot, add the sesame oil and salt. Mix well by gently folding with a rice paddle or large spoon until evenly seasoned. Add more salt to taste. The rice will cool down during this process and be ready to be used.
- Put a sheet of gim, shiny side down and longer side toward you, on a cutting board or a bamboo mat if available. Spread about 3/4 cup to 1 cup of rice evenly over the gim, using a rice paddle or your fingers preferably. Lay the prepared ingredients on top of the rice close to the side toward you.
- Lift the entire bottom edge with both hands and roll over the filling away from you, tucking in the filling with your fingers. Put firm pressure over the roll with the help of the bamboo mat, if using, to close everything in tightly. Then, continue to roll again, putting pressure evenly over the roll using both hands.
- Rub or brush the roll with a little bit of sesame oil for extra flavor and shiny look. Apply a little bit of sesame oil to a sharp knife. This will keep rice from sticking to the knife. Repeat as necessary after each cut. Wipe the knife with a damp towel if the rice still sticks. Cut the roll into 1/2-inch thick bite sizes.
- Mix 1 cup regular short grain rice with 1 cup short grain brown rice for a healthier option.