Mini Gimbap (Mayak Gimbap)

This mini gimbap or (kimbap) is so addictive that it’s called mayak gimbap, meaning drug gimbap. It’s minimalist kimbap that’s addictive.

a pile of mini Korean seaweed rice rolls on a plate

This child-size gimbap (or kimbap) is called ggoma gimbap (꼬마김밥) because of its small size. Ggoma means a little one or little kid in Korean. It’s also known as mayak kimbap (마약김밥). Mayak means narcotic drugs, so the name comes from this gimbap’s reputation for being addictive. It’s a specialty of Gwangjang Market (광장시장), a bustling, crowded market in the center city of Seoul, where the merchants came up with the idea to serve these little guys with a sweet and tangy hot mustard sauce. It’s this sauce that makes the gimbap addictive.

By the way, if you travel to Seoul, Gwangjang Market is a fun place to visit, which boasts, among other things, all sorts of street food. The market is a popular place for both locals and tourists.  

Gwangjang Shijang

Unlike traditional gimbap, this mini gimbap uses minimal ingredients, which takes no effort to roll up. The gimbap I tried in Gwangjang Market, during my trip last year, had only two ingredients in it — yellow pickled radish and carrot, but generously brushed with sesame oil. I used three ingredients here — pickled radish, carrot, and spinach. You can substitute julienned cucumber for spinach.

Mini gimbap

I am not sure what secret ingredients the merchants use for their mustard sauce, but a typical hot mustard sauce includes hot mustard called gyeoja (겨자), vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Here, I tried it with dijon mustard and added finely ground sesame seeds for extra nutty flavor to pair with the sesame oil laden gimbap. It’s addictive!  

a pile of mini kimbap on a plate

Mayak kimbap

DSC 0767 150x150 1 - Mini Gimbap (Mayak Gimbap)

Mini Gimbap (Mayak Gimbap)

4.6 from 5 votes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe


  • Makes 16 pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked short grain rice standard measuring cup not the cup that comes with a rice cooker
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • salt to taste start with 1/3 teaspoon
  • 1 small bunch spinach about 6 ounces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt to taste – about 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 large carrot julienned
  • 4 yellow pickled radish danmuji strips, pre-cut for gimbap
  • 4 gim aka nori sheets


  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds finely ground in a spice grinder or mortar bowl
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard or Korean hot mustard, gyeoja
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar


  • Cook the rice using a little less water than usual. (Fresh cooked rice is best for gimbap.)
  • 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 the water out. Run a knife through the squeezed spinach a couple of times. Season with the sesame oil and salt.
    Mini gimbap
  • Julienne the carrots. Heat a lightly oiled pan over medium high heat. Stir fry the carrots until slightly softened. Lightly season with a pinch of salt.
    Mayak Kimbap
  • Cut the pickled radish crosswise in half, and then cut lengthwise in half.
    mini kimbap
  • When all the 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 lightly folding with a rice paddle or spoon until evenly seasoned.
    mayak kimbap
  • Cut 4 sheets of gim into quarters.
    mini kimbap
  • Put a quarter sheet of gim, shiny side down and shorter side toward you, on a cutting board. Spread 1 tablespoon to 1-1/2 tablespoons of rice evenly over the gim, leaving a little bit of space on the side away from you. Do this with your fingers. Keep wet towel and wipe your fingers frequently to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers. Lay the prepared ingredients on top of the rice, closer towards you.
    mayak kimbap
  • Lift the entire bottom edge with both hands and roll over the filling away from you, tucking in the filling with your fingers.
    mayak kimbap
  • Rub or brush the roll with a little bit of sesame oil for extra flavor and a shiny look.
    Mayak kimbap

For the sauce

  • Finely grind the sesame seeds in a spice grinder or mortar bowl. Mix with the remaining sauce ingredients. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved and the ground sesame seeds are evenly distributed.
    Mayak gimbap sauce
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