It’s Bowl #2’s birthday today! Hip hip hooray!
Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed this year, because our recent life whirlwind bit me in the butt and I didn’t have anything particularly special planned for him – unlike last year’s Hawaii food-stravaganza. It’s particularly tragic because my man has been so downright amazing lately — powering through my brother’s visit, an estrogen-packed few days in Vegas, and an apartment move (hyper-organized and virtually stress-free, all thanks to him). On top of that, he’s been absolutely slammed with work. To say he’s been a trooper and the best fiance a girl could ask for is a gross understatement.
Luckily (or, even luckier) for me and my lack of birthday planning, Bowl #2 is low-maintenance, especially when it comes to food. In a sharp and somewhat baffling contrast to me (indiscriminate gluttony personified) he really only has six edibles and potables that he’s wild about:
- Spicy ahi poke.
- Bacon, scrambled eggs & rice. (Every single time I make this he says, “This looks amazing!” like I just whipped up a tower of soufflés.)
- Kimchi fried rice. (In fact, kimchi anything.)
- And lastly … chamchi kimbap.
Chamchi (or tuna) kimbap was the last thing on his hall of fame list that I’d yet to tackle (well, other than beer). Mostly because I’d heard tales upon tales of how finicky it can be to make sushi — or, since he likes to point out that kimbap is not sushi, sushi-like things. But upon seeing Emma’s fantastic sushi tutorial on Food52 a few weeks ago, I thought I’d give it a shot, just in time for at least a little something special for his birthday.
Kimbap differs from sushi in a couple of ways. Instead of vinegar and sugar, the rice is generally seasoned with sesame oil and a bit of salt. The filling also consists of (predictably) more distinctively Korean ingredients — perilla leaves, bulgogi, blanched spinach. Most iterations of tuna kimbap are a tad more complex than this one, with the aforementioned plus egg omelette, pickled vegetables, crab stick, and more. But, true to Bowl #2’s hassle-free tastes, he swore his favorite had only two things inside the rice and seaweed – canned tuna and a healthy dollop of mayo mixed in. Served with a side of kimchi. That’s it. And proving that sometimes simpler is just better, it was awesome.
Happy birthday, soul-partner. I can’t imagine this walk through life with anyone else by my side. You challenge me, inspire me, crack me up uncontrollably, fill my formerly grayscale life with color. Thanks for trucking out to Vegas with me last week – you are the best.
(P.S. Speaking of Vegas, I could not hope to write a recap of the event as poignant and perfectly commemorative as others have done. Instead, just let me say thank you — again — to every wonderful soul I met while there. Every single one of you was a pure joy to meet and, thanks to you, the experience was one that I’m sure I’ll never forget. Thank you, thank you!)
The most basic of chamchi kimbap recipes. Feel free to add perilla leaves underneath the tuna before rolling for extra pop, or any number of other fillings -- egg omelette, crab stick, pickled radish, and more. More elaborate recipes for chamchi kimbap can be found here, here, here and here, just to name a few.
And, of course, for a fantastic step-by-step tutorial on rolling and making your own sushi (easily applicable to kimbap), check out this gem on Food52 by the lovely Emma Galloway of My Darling Lemon Thyme -- who I had the exceeding pleasure of meeting last week!
- 3 cups of cooked short-grain rice (1 1/2 cups uncooked rice)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 10 ounces canned tuna (two 5-ounce cans), drained
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4-6 sheets of dried nori
- 2 tbsp water for sealing the sushi rolls
- kimchi for serving
- Place rice in a shallow bowl. Drizzle sesame oil and sprinkle the salt over it and mix to evenly distribute. If the rice is freshly made, cover with a damp towel and let it cool to room temperature.
- Next, drain the canned tuna. Combine tuna and mayo in a small bowl, mixing until the mayo is well-incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare your seaweed, rice, and tuna filling in one place, along with your two tablespoons of water in a small dipping bowl. Place a piece of nori on the sushi mat (if using -- see Notes below if you don't have one).
- Next, place about 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of rice over the lower two-thirds of the nori. Wet your fingers with water. Using your fingertips, gently flatten the rice to form a rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the bottom and 2-3 inches at the top.
- Place about 1/3 cup of the tuna filling in a stripe across the center of the rice. (Optional: You can spread some additional mayo in a thin stripe under or above the tuna, as well.) Wet one finger in the water and use it to dampen the edge of the nori sheet furthest away from you, to help seal the roll.
- Either using the mat for assistance or just the nori sheet, lift the edge of the sheet closest to you up over the filling, squeezing gently as you go. Continue rolling and squeezing (make sure to squeeze evenly across the entire roll -- it doesn't have to be forceful, just evenly done) until you reach the end of the roll. Press the dampened edge into the roll to seal.
- I generally like to let the roll sit for a few minutes before cutting because I find it makes the seaweed a little more pliable. Either way, wet a sharp knife (I like to use a serrated one) and cut into pieces of your desired size. Serve with kimchi!
If you don't have a sushi mat, don't worry. This type of "seaweed outside" roll doesn't really need one -- and in fact, the first time I made this I actually didn't use a mat, and I kind of thought it was easier in some ways. It certainly gave better control over the sushi roll. Just be gentle and patient with it, roll slowly, and make sure to apply even pressure across the entire roll as you go. You don't have to squeeze forcefully, just gently and evenly, and it should turn out grand.