Vegan Kimbap with Bulgogi Mushroom – sesame flavor rice roll with sweet tangy Korean radish, savory bulgogi mushroom, refreshing cucumber and sweet carrots!
Kimbap is something I grew up eating in Korea. Did you know Koreans associate kimbap with a picnic? It’s because kimbap is what everyone packs when we are going on a field trip or picnic. I still remember my elementary school field trips with my backpack full of snacks and a lunchbox full of handmade kimbap that my mom made me in the morning. It is only fitting that I come up with a vegan version of my childhood favorite dish, kimbap!
What is Kimbap?
Kimbap (also known as Gimbap and Korean rice roll) is a popular Korean dish made with cooked rice and cooked ingredients rolled in seaweed paper. The Korean word “Kim” (also pronounced “Gim”) means seaweed paper and “bap” means rice. So the literal translation of “kimbap” is “seaweed paper and rice”.
History of Kimbap
There are two main theory on the origin of Kimbap. One theory states that Kimbap was introduced to Korea from Japan. And the other theory states that Kimbap was originated in Korea.
Theory 1: Kimbap was introduced from Japan
During the time between 1910 to 1945, Korea was colonized by Japan. And people believe that this was when Kimbap was introduced to Korean. The vinegar seasoned rice wrapped in seaweed paper was often a common meal for the Japanese army during that period. Some believe that Korean adapt this dish and modified the seasoning and fillings to accommodate the Koreans.
Theory 2: Kimbap was originated in Korea
There are records from the Three Kingdom periods in Korea (57BC to 668AD) stating that Koreans have used seaweed paper to wrap their rice for meals. There are also many records during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897) showing how Koreans enjoyed wrapping their multigrain rice with seaweed paper. Therefore, many people believe that Kimbap is a true Korean dish.
Difference between Sushi and Kimbap
|Originated from Japan||A Korean popular dish|
|Rice seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar||Rice seasoned with sesame oil and salt|
|Often use raw fish as fillings||Never use raw fish as fillings|
Different types of kimbap:
There are many different types of kimbap depending on the fillings, shapes, and cooking method.
- Fillings – The most traditional filling is bulgogi. I’m making my bulgogi with mushroom instead of beef in this recipe. However, there are so many different types of kimbap such as kimchi, tuna salad, pork belly, cheese, and the list goes on and on.
- Shapes – The traditional kimbap is the roll form. But there is nude kimbap (the inside out roll – the rice is on the outside) and triangle kimbap. Triangle kimbap (onigiri) is one of the most popular grab-to-go snacks in Korea.
- Cooking method – Once you prepare kimbap, you can enjoy it right away. But you can cover it with tempura batter and fry them. Or you can cover the individual slices with egg and pan-fry them. The egg-covered pan-frying is Korean people’s go-to method for enjoying their leftover kimbap.
Ingredients in Vegan Kimbap with Bulgogi Mushroom
- Bulgogi Mushroom: Traditionally bulgogi is made with thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce. Instead of using the meat, I am using king oyster mushrooms. King oyster mushroom is also known as king trumpet mushroom or Pleurotus eryngii. If you can’t find the king oyster mushroom in your local grocery store, you substitute it with shiitake mushroom or white button mushroom.
- Carrot: When you lightly sauteed carrots, it really enhances their natural sweetness and vibrant color.
- Cucumber: It adds refreshing crunchiness to the roll. If you are not a cucumber fan, you can substitute with lightly sautéed spinach.
- Korean pickled radish (dan-mu-ji): This pickled radish is sweet and tangy. I have not found a good substitution for this ingredient. For me, this is a must for making kimbap. It adds sweet and tangy crunch to kimbap. However, my husband actually prefers to not have this ingredient. If you are not a fan of pickled vegetables, skip it.
Tips on making Vegan Kimbap with Bulgogi Mushroom
- There are two sides to the seaweed paper. One side is smooth and the other side is rougher in texture. Add the rice to the rougher side of the seaweed paper.
- Spreading sticky rice can be tricky. You can either wet your hand first or use plastic disposable gloves. These methods can help you handle the sticky rice.
- Once the kimbap is rolled, brush your kimbap with a little bit of sesame oil. This will prevent your kimbap from drying out and it will also make your kimbap look extra appetizing.
- When slicing your kimbap, you can either wet your knife or spray with clean flavor oil to coat the knife. This will prevent the rice to stick to your knife. Then use a slicing motion to cut the kimbap. If you were to cut a kimbap in a downward motion, you will squash the kimbap.
Want more tasty Korean recipes?
- Vegetarian Kimbap Onigirazu – It’s pretty similar to this recipe except it has eggs and made it into an onigirazu form. It’s another fun way to enjoy kimbap!
- Mini vegan kimbap – a simplified version of regular kimbap. It has three fillings and much smaller than a regular kimbap.
Vegan Kimbap (with Bulgogi mushroom)
Vegan Kimbap with Bulgogi Mushroom – sesame flavor rice roll with sweet tangy Korean radish, savory bulgogi mushroom, refreshing cucumber, and sweet carrots!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6 rolls 1x
- Category: Main course
- Method: Assemble
- Cuisine: Korean
- Diet: Vegan
For Bulgogi Mushroom
- 2 king oyster mushroom, sliced thinly (see note if you can’t find king oyster mushroom)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups cooked sushi rice (2 cups of uncooked sushi rice, I like to mix half brown sushi rice and half white sushi rice)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 sheets of seaweed paper
- 1 large carrot, shredded or cut into match sticks
- 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1 Korean picked Radish, cut into long strips (need 6 strips for this recipe)
- 2 Persian cucumber, cut lengthwise
- Cook sushi rice according to the instruction.
- Once the rice is cooked, add sesame oil and sprinkle salt. Mix and set it aside.
For Carrots and Mushroom
- On a small size non-stick skillet, add 2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil and carrot.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes with frequent stirring and season with salt.
- Take it out of the pan and set it aside.
- On the same skillet, add the mushroom.
- Cook for a couple of minutes until the mushroom releases water.
- Add the soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder, and black pepper.
- Stir frequently and continue to cook until the water from mushroom and soy sauce evaporates.
- Take it out of the pan and set it aside.
- On seaweed paper (the shiny side should be down and the rough side should face you so you can add the rice), add about 1 cup of seasoned rice. Spread the rice evenly and thinly. Leave about an inch gap on top.
- About one-third of the way from the bottom, start layering/filling the carrot, mushroom, cucumber, and Korean radish.
- Grab the bottom of the seaweed paper and roll over the ingredients. Carefully roll and you can use the sushi rolling mat for assistance. Dab some water on the seaweed paper that we didn’t add rice. Water will act as glue.
- Once you are done rolling the roll, place the roll on the dish, seam side down.
- Continue to make the rest of the rolls.
- Cut into bite-size and serve immediately.
- Please refer to the “Tips on making Vegan Kimbap with Bulgogi Mushroom” section above for more helpful tips and notes.
- If you can’t find king oyster mushrooms in your local grocery store, you can substitute for 1 package of shiitake mushroom or white mushroom.
- This recipe will make a total of 6 rolls. This is enough to feed 3 adults easily and 4 adults if you are serving it with other food like soup and/or salad.
- Kimbap is best to eat immediately since the rice will start to dry out (especially in the fridge).
- If you have leftover, place them in the airtight container and keep in the fridge. Traditionally leftover kimbap is often coated with egg and pan-fried before serving. Then this type of kimbap would no longer be vegan. If you want to keep the recipe vegan, microwave the kimbap slightly (30-45 seconds) and bring it up to room temperature to enjoy. Note that the leftover kimbap will most likely be a little dried, unfortunately.
Keywords: vegan kimbap, vegan mushroom bulgogi kimbap