Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Korean Food: Kimbap

After reading my post about Styela clava you may have gotten the impression Korean food and I don't get along.  That nasty business certainly wasn't pleasing to my mouth.  But in general Korean food and I are like this.  To dispel misconceptions and perhaps also satisfy your natural curiosity about what people on the other side of the planet eat every day, I'll be posting a series of ... posts about the Korean stuff I eat.  I'll start with kimbap because I'm enthusiastic about it, it's ubiquitous in Korea, and most foreigners can see its appeal.

To the indiscriminate, round eye, kimbap is Korean sushi, as predicted by the function f(sushi)=(rice+seaweed+meat)/(bite-sized chunks) or whatever.  I'm not good at math.  In any case kimbap achieves a level of portable, ease-of-use genius sushi surely envies.  Behold the roundbap:

천냥불고기김밥 (cheonnyang bulgogi kimbap, "thousand meat rolls") will be yours for 1,000 won (~$0.89).
Roundbap--a clever neologism of which I am unduly proud--is so-called by yours truly because it consists of a central column of vegetables and/or meat surrounded by rice and held together by seaweed soaked with sesame oil for pliability and deliciousness.  Every convenience store in the land (they are legion) sells similar units of eminently portable, affordable roundbap.

The packaging is brilliant.  You unwrap one end of the roll, munch the exposed segments, then push the column up from the bottom to expose further segments to your continued munching.  It's like a push pop of seaweed, rice and etc. as you can see:

So tidy.
Convenience store roundbap is ... convenient.  Also very popular.  I pass three convenience stores on my commute and their combined roundbap supply is gone by 0830 every morning.  Unpackaged, sit-down-and-eat roundbap is also available throughout the land at kimbap restaurants, e.g. 김밥천국 (kimbap paradise), cheap diner-type places that offer a wide variety of generic Korean food from kimbap to noodles and stews I will explore in future posts.

Restaurant roundbap.

'Roundbap' was my second kimbap neologism, coined to distinguish it from trianglebap, a less popular variety found only at convenience stores:

I don't know what the text means and it doesn't transliterate comprehensibly.  Mystery trianglebap!
Trianglebap comes in a complicated tripartite package that's less tidy and easy to operate than roundbap's.  I won't attempt to explain it because I don't understand it and never seem to dismantle it correctly.  Notice that the seaweed used for trianglebap is dry, i.e. not drenched with sesame oil.
It's like a sandwich.
I felt clever for drawing the roundbap/trianglebap distinction but have since learned that Koreans have been doing it all along.  Trianglebap is 삼각김밥, literally "triangle kimbap."

I like this seaweed + rice idea enough that I occasionally make pathetic homemade kimbap.  I'm far too lazy to do anything elaborate.  The filling I use is just brown rice with a bit of galbi marinade for flavor.  I load it into a strip of seaweed, fold the thing up and eat it.  Sometimes over the sink.

I'm sure Chortle would be mortified at this pitiful display of clumsy imitation.

No comments:

Post a Comment