This mini gimbap or (kimbap) is so addictive that it’s called mayak gimbap, meaning drug gimbap. It’s minimalist kimbap that’s addictive.
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.
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.
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!
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Mini Gimbap (Mayak Gimbap)
- 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 ⅓ 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
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Cook the rice using a little less water than usual. (Fresh cooked rice is best for gimbap.)
- 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.
This was extremely delicious! I made the spinach according to your Sigeumchi Namul recipe. My husband and I couldn’t get enough. I never had a chance to have these when I went to South Korea, and now that I have developed a severe shellfish allergy, I need to make most Asian food myself. Thank you for this recipe!!
Julia Bascom says
This is fantastic! I added fish cake and will very happily make these again and again! Can’t wait to share this recipe with my daughter who enjoys sushi but can’t afford it as often as she would like. I bet they would be terrific with baked tofu as well. And the sauce is very good, I had tahini and used that for the ground sesame.
Where can I get pickled yellow radish? Or what would be a good substitute?
Korean or other Asian markets. Cut some cucumbers into long sticks and lightly salt for 15 to 20 minutes to draw out some moisture and season. This will also give the cucumbers a bit extra crunch. You can simply use fresh cucumbers, but pickled yellow radish is seasoned so try salting the cucumbers. Pickled vegetables can be a good substitute as well.
Jin Ki says
I love Mayak kimbap… had it Gwangjang Market on one of my visits to Korea… It has been 2 years since my last visit to Korea and do not see any chance (due to covid) of a visit in the foreseeable future… Your blog is a lifesaver since I can cook many of the Korean dishes that I miss…. will try making mayak kimbap soon… thank you for sharing❤️
aww that’s great to hear! Thank you! I know.. let’s hope we can visit soon.
Thelma Acoba says
I like the layout of the recipes and pictures. It makes it easy to follow. Thank you so much. I like Korean food, too.
Oh thank you! Happy to hear that. Hope you find many recipes you like here.
I made this a couple days ago, and my family loved it so much, they asked me to make a large batch for a potluck! Thank you so much for this recipe 🙂
Awesome! I am so happy to hear that. It will be great for a potluck. Thank you, Michelle!
kate whittum-shrimankar says
Good morning Mrs. Hyosun-
thanks for this recipe! I’ve been wanting to make something different for my son’s lunchbox, so I’m excited to try this. One quick question- when sesame oil is called for in a recipe, is it always the toasted sesame oil?
Gimbap is always nice for lunch box! I think you meant sesame seeds. If so, yes!
I agree that these are addicting! They are very tasty and fun to make as well. Thanks for all your simple to follow recipes,
Lorreene Lorianto says
Hello there, I would love to make these for my wife but she’s allergic to carrots (regular orange carrot) . Can you please advice what is a great substitute beside’s carrot.
How about red (or orange) bell pepper? Thinly slice and stir fry lightly with a little bit of salt. You can also thinly slice kimchi, squeeze out the liquid, and mix in a little bit of sesame oil. Go to my traditional gimbap recipe and see if you want to use any of the ingredients listed there. You can also use thinly sliced and stir-fried spam or hot dog if you want.
Appreciate it … Will try it out during the weekends 🙂
Thank you my boys will love this- a quick and easy way to make gimbap! Could you suggest a meat filling that would be good for these?
Beef strips will be good. See my traditional gimbap recipe that’s linked in the headnote of this post. Spam or hot dogs will be good too. Just cut into thin strips and stir-fry quickly before using. Enjoy!
Ulrike Drissner says
Thank you so much for today’s post. I visited gwangjang market today and tried the Gimbap, they were incredibly delicious!
Regards from Seoul!
That’s awesome! I’m glad to hear you went and enjoyed the gimbap. Enjoy your stay in Seoul. I’m envious of you.
Angie G says
I love Gimbap! and what a smart thing to make for lunch during the summer. Thanks for the recipe and for the dipping sauce recipe!
You’re welcome, Angie! Hope you get to make it soon.
Thank u! This looks so yummy! I’m a mom of three young children who will love this!
Yeah this gimbap is great for children, and easy for mom to whip up to feed hungry children. Enjoy!
Post me more receipts on sushi roll I like it.
Stay tuned! More to come.