Kimchi Ssambap (Kimchi Wrapped Rice Rolls)

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Koreans make wraps (ssam 쌈) with all kinds of fresh and cooked leafy vegetables — lettuce, perilla leaves, zucchini leaves and cabbages, to name a few. Kimchi is no exception. When pogi kimchi reaches its tangy, sour stage, it’s very tasty as a wrap for meat, rice and other fillings.

Kimchi ssambap  (김치 쌈밥) is rice wrapped in kimchi. To use kimchi as a wrap, simply squeeze out the liquid from the kimchi. You can rinse in water first and then squeeze for a milder taste, especially if your kimchi is very sour. Kimchi can be served separately so each person can make his/her own wraps at the table, or you can serve pre-wrapped as this recipe shows.

The rice can be in any form. This recipe is made with fried rice. Also try it with rice that’s simply seasoned with some sesame oil, soy sauce and/or salt, and sesame seeds. Sometimes, I enjoy kimchi wraps with plain rice and a dollop of gochujang.

A little extra effort to wrap the rice in tangy, crunch kimchi turns the ordinary rice into something much more interesting and delicious. It’s a little extra love that makes all the difference. These are portable so ideal for lunch boxes or picnic food.


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1/4 medium onion
1/2 small carrot
1/4 small green bell pepper
2 to 3 mushroom caps
3 ounces ground beef
oil to stir fry

(or use any other vegetables or meat of your choice)

2 cups cooked rice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste

10 kimchi leafy parts (thick white parts removed)

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Finely chop the vegetables.

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Heat a lightly oiled pan over medium heat. Cook the ground beef, breaking up into small pieces, until it turns brown, about 2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of the oil and the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes.

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Add the rice and soy sauce. Stir-fry until all the ingredients are evenly distributed, and the clumped up rice is broken up, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper (remember kimchi is salty). Stir in the sesame oil and seeds at the end.

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When the fried rice is cool enough to handle, make small rolls by pressing between your palms. The size of the rolls should depend on the size of your kimchi.

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Place a kimchi leaf on a cutting board. Lay a rice ball near the cut part of the kimchi. Wrap the kimchi around the rice roll, folding in the sides. Roll up all the way. Repeat until all the rice or kimchi is used up.

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