Banner design by Helena, portrait by Eva


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The origin of Kimbap

My view at lunch time. More impressive than the pile of kimbap, brushed with sesame oil and shimmering in light, are the boxes of tin foil (under the counter) to wrap it with! That's quite the supply. It's common for Koreans to stop inside the door of a restaurant and order one, to go, for 1,000 Won: 1USD. It's the Korean version of fast food.

Kimbap is a staple. I've never met anyone who didn't like the seaweed wrapped, sticky-rice delight, filled with carrots, radish, cucumber, egg, ham and other yummy ingredients. Standard kimbap is only 1,000W, or 1USD.

When I first arrived in Korea, I pretended the rice roll was Japanese sushi, like times back home I put a dollop of mint sauce on my beef! I have very, very evolved taste buds.

Lamb may not be the origin of beef ;) but the origin of kimbap is, indeed, sushi. When Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, the Korean government instituted a policy to remove Japanese cultural references from its lexicon. At this time, sushi was renamed "kimbap."

The older generation still calls kimbap, "sushi."


Ed said...

When I was in Korea, I found that kimbap was a bit different from sushi in that there was no raw fish and had stuff like beef, tuna, kimchi, etc. Both types are quite good but in very different ways, really.

It's also wayyy cheaper to buy kimbap than sushi. :D

Natasha said...

and I just bought a roll for $4.50CDN the other day!

Gdog said...

If I told my students this origin of gimbab story they would shoot me. They hate Japan!

MUD said...

Korea has a long history of assaults/ insults from Japan. It should be no surprise that a lot of the Korean culture comes from Japan but the name gets changed to protect the guilty. Many Korean women were kidnapped during WWII and taken with Japanese Army units as prostitutes. Typical Japanese in that the offspring of these girls were shunned by the fathers and Japan.
A lot of US G.I.s stationed in Korea had girls they lived with and had babies by but had no intent of every getting married or taking them or the kids home to the US.
Keep the good info flowing. Love the good stuff. MUD

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

Ed- Yes, wayyy cheaper, although not where Natasha lives, apparently! 4.50!? I'd sue Vancouver.

GDog- hahaha.

Muddy- a fun history lesson. thank you!! ;o)

John said...

sushi in korean is "cho-bab" 초밥. korea has a long tradition of eating "raw fish", sashimi style - you can find these types of restuarants all over - "Hwe Jip" 회집.

Paul A. Kroll said...

Hey Eva your site is really informational, I learn something new about Korea everytime I read it. I'm glad you like my place (so do I) you are more then welcome to come check it out. The more places we can visit here the better. Thanks for letting me add your blog as a link too (even though I didn't ask...sorry) I'm sure people will stop reading mine and start on yours soon enough. P.S. - how often do you change your profile picture?

Natasha said...

Eva, have you tried their saunas yet? I'd absolutely love to read about them -- especially their head to toe body scrubs! Dare you haha =D

Anonymous said...

Wow... you really have many things to share. Your blog is very cool- I'll visit more often from now on :) It caught my attention because I was born in Suwon; and, although now back in the States, I was just there teaching English, in YoungTong. I think your keen interest and open-mindedness in the Korean culture is extraordinary. Stay safe, enjoy, and best of luck!

p.s. I miss Korean food so much!

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

Thanks anonymous!

Natasha- I know, I know, I have to go soon. I'm just such a modest nude!
And, as a foreigner, if you're stared at clothed it's for damn sure you're going to be stared at naked!

I'm talking about the communal bath- not the sauna- i know you wear a tshirt and shorts there.

John said...

check out the sauna eva - i think you'll really like it. and yeah, i wasn't so thrilled about the whole communal nudist thing either, and don't think i ever will - but the treatment is pretty refreshing (not to mention, they scrape you RAW!).

in korea, a complete night (a REALLY good night out) consists of "yook-cha" (six events). for example, something like this: 1.dinner,,, 4.noraebang (karaoke), 5.late night food (again), and then (sauna) to sweat out all the alcohol and sleep.

that's how we do it up in korea! :)

katie v said...

yes, yes, go to the sauna: jim-jil-bang! i'd suggest going on a sunday. it's so nice to see the families all hanging out together, steam-refreshed, chilling out eating packed lunches from home. sauna was my favorite activity when i lived in incheon. read a book, sleep on the floor, eat--you can do whatever you like for 6 bucks.

and YES, the nudity is unnerving at are expected to strip and wash (in the ladies' area) before entering jimjilbang. it's just polite. i promise after 2 visits you'll love the experience.

hcpark said...

Awesome. Hi. We live in Houston, I am Korean. For dinner, our kids had kimbap and yogurt. I thought, "I'm gonna find a web site with "yogurt" and "kimbap". That'd be interesting."

Found your site. Cool. I just had dinner, but you're making me hungry again.


JR72 said...

I just found your page whilst looking for directions/info on the Suwon Soccer stadium as I need to get there tomorrow. Anyway.... I just bought a UK edition (cos I'm from the UK) of that "wonderful" trashy "Now" magazine, from Kyobo, for my girl (who I'm living with in Suwon) and within a 2 page spread on how to fight Cellulite we were horrified to see that one of the recommended foods was no less than Kimchi!!

Ohmigod, no!!!! :|

PS Nice blog. Wish I'd found it 3 months ago!

Anonymous said...

Man you are good. I miss Korea. I go to korea in the summer with a few years interval. We used to go every other year but now school is catching up. that was awesome. Every time I go there I always race to the oden stands and kimbap resturants. god I love it.

Anonymous said...

"It should be no surprise that a lot of the Korean culture comes from Japan but the name gets changed to protect the guilty." Actually, it's goes both ways and both nations disagree. What a disgrace. Both countries sharing a similar rich culture should be admired.
Your blog is so fun to read Eva! Keep the good work up!

Flavia Watch said...

kimbap is still different from sushi - as you've recalled.

when you're really hungry, it's better off to eat kimbap.

it's also better suited for picnic, etc.

when you want to taste something interesting & have some appetite, you're better off with sushi.

it's also better in a restaurant or in a formal meal, etc.

you don't get the mmmmmm & satisfying feel from sushi that you'd get with gimbap. when you're finished, you do feel full, but it feels more like eating pineapple for dinner

Anonymous said...

I've seen the Japanese start using "kalbi" meat to stuff into their sushi for awhile now. Chef Tojo from Vancouver was called a kook (not cook, lol!) when he started the inside-out sushi rolls in Japan. Canadians, however, received him with open arms. "Crazy" style of sushi and maki are everywhere now... with new varieties invented everyday. Still, gimbap is the original crazy maki! Oh man I'm hungry... jeez it's only 7 am.

Keep up the good writing. Interesting how you experience so much of Korea when I haven't much... and I'm Korean. Jealous.

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Anonymous said...

Actually I think your history of Kimbap is a little too jaded. There actually is conflicting opinion in regards to the history of Kimbap. One theory was that it was thought to be a mixture of rice and side dishes rolled in gim ( which is the actual term for dried layered seaweed) and it has been around for a long time. So to say that Kimbap was renamed from sushi is incorrect.