Gimbap (김밥) is a Korean dish made from cooked rice and other ingredients that are rolled in gim—dried sheets of nori seaweed—and served in bite-sized slices. The dish is often part of a packed meal, or dosirak, to be eaten at picnics and outdoor events, and can serve as a light lunch along with danmuji (yellow pickled radish) and kimchi. It is a popular take-out food in Korea and abroad, and is known as a convenient food because of its portability. It is usually well wrapped (traditionally with aluminium-foil, but now sometimes in paper) and does not have any liquid ingredients.
|Place of origin||Korea|
|Main ingredients||Gim, bap|
Gim (김) refers to edible seaweed in the genus Porphyra and Pyropia. Bap (밥) broadly refers to "cooked rice". The compound term gimbap was not a part of the Korean language until the modern era. A food with a similar concept, cooked rice wrapped in gim, was called bokssam (복쌈; 福-) in the Joseon era (1392–1897).
The term gimbap was used in a 1935 Korean newspaper article, but at the time, the loanword norimaki was used as well. Norimaki, which borrowed from the name of a similar Japanese dish, was part of the Japanese vocabulary that entered into the Korean language during the Japanese forced occupation (1910–1945), when teaching and speaking Korean were prohibited. The two words were used interchangeably until gimbap was made the universal term as part of efforts to clear away the remnants of Japanese colonialism and purify the Korean language.
Production of gim in Gyeongsang and Jeolla Provinces is reported in books from the 15th century, such as Gyeongsang-do Jiriji and Sinjeung Dongguk Yeoji Seungnam. Eating cooked rice rolled in gim is also a long-standing Korean custom. Yeoryang Sesigi, a Joseon book from 1819, describes a dish called bokssam (복쌈; transcribed using the hanja 縛占, pronounced bakjeom in Korean).
There are two conflicting versions of the origin of the modern form of gimbap. Some sources say it was derived from norimaki, a Japanese sushi variant introduced to Korea during the Japanese forced occupation. Other sources say the food was developed from the local tradition of rolling bap (cooked rice) and banchan (side dishes) in gim.
Gimbap and norimaki now refer to distinct dishes in Japan and Korea: the former called kimupapu (キムパプ) in Japanese and the latter called gimchobap (김초밥; "gim sushi") or norimaki (노리마키) in Korean. Gimbap usually contains more ingredients and is seasoned with sesame oil, while norimaki is rolled with fewer ingredients and is seasoned with rice vinegar.
Ingredients and preparationEdit
Some varieties of gimbap include cheese, spicy cooked squid, kimchi, luncheon meat, or spicy tuna. The gim may be brushed with sesame oil or sprinkled with sesame seeds. In one variation, sliced pieces of gimbap may be lightly fried with an egg coating.
Fillings vary, often with vegetarian and vegan options. Popular ingredients include danmuji (yellow pickled radish), ham, beef, imitation crab meat, egg strips, kimchi, bulgogi, spinach, carrot, burdock root, cucumber, canned tuna, and kkaennip (perilla leaves).
To make the dish, gim sheets are toasted over a low heat, cooked rice is lightly seasoned with salt and sesame oil, and vegetable and meat ingredients are seasoned and stir-fried or pan-fried. The toasted gim is then laid on a gimbal—a bamboo gimbap roller—with a thin layer of cooked rice placed evenly on top. Other ingredients are placed on the rice and rolled into a cylindrical shape, typically 3–4 centimetres (1.2–1.6 in) in diameter. The rolled gimbap is then sliced into bite-sized pieces.
- Chungmu-gimbap (충무김밥) – Originating from the seaside city of Chungmu (currently Tongyeong), the dish features thinner rolls with an unseasoned surface and only rice as the filler ingredient. It is served with spicy ojingeo-muchim (squid salad) and seokbakji (radish kimchi).
- Mayak-gimbap (마약김밥) – A specialty of Gwangjang Market in Seoul. Mayak translates as "drug", a reference to its allegedly addictive and concentrated flavour. Small gimbap filled with carrots, spinach, and danmuji (yellow pickled radish) is sprinkled with ground sesame seeds and dipped in its pairing sauce made from soy sauce and mustard.
- Samgak-gimbap (삼각김밥) – Literally "triangle gimbap". This variety is similar to Japanese onigiri, and is sold in convenience stores in South Korea. Fillings vary greatly. The expiration date is 1 day, and has a calorific value of between 140 and 200 kilo calories usually.
Many South Korean fast food restaurant franchises specialize in gimbap and noodles. Among the chains are Gimbap Cheonguk (김밥천국), Kobongmin Gimbabin (고봉민김밥人), Chungmu Gimbab Matjuk (충무김밥죽), Teacher Kim (바르다김선생), Gimbap Nar (김밥나라), Gimgane (김家네), Gobong Gimbap (고봉김밥), Jongro Gimbap (종로김밥), Rolling Rice, Gimbap King (김밥 King), and Charles Sutbul Gimbap (찰스숯불김밥). Some of these restaurants also serve other dishes, including dongaseu (pork cutlet), ramyeon (instant noodles), udong (thick noodle soup), naengmyeon (cold noodles), bibimbap, and stews such as kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew), doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew), sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew), and omurice.
Gimbap and Cultural Significance of PovertyEdit
Gimbap is generally sold in restaurants, where they are pre-cut. However, due to the negative stigma surrounding begging, unskilled public busking and prostitution, selling whole gimbap as a street vendor is seen as the final noble and dignified form of busking that an otherwise able person, or family members of affected people, can do to get out of poverty. This is because virtually everybody can make this, and it is much more cost and time effective, and less labour-intensive, than making kimchi or preserved fruits. Vendors often sell and eat gimbap as an entire log, even after they are out of poverty or emergency. Selling whole also extends shelf life, and signifies longevity. 
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