As I’ve posted before, kimbap is a surefire staple of Korean convenience food. And in Korea, convenience food often seems to be a foremost fare. It’s the “bali bali” lifestyle here—not as in the relaxed, easygoings of Indonesia’s most chilled-out hood—as in, “hurry! hurry!”
Here, restaurants are up and running in two days. Here, you run in the hallways, whether you’re a student or seon-saeng-nim (teacha!), because walking is wasting time. Everywhere has high-speed internet. Buses might as well have full-body, roller-coaster-style seatbelts and overhead bars to counteract their breakneck pace (this about sums it up). Co-pee and kimbap comes ready-made at GS25, 24/7. Everything should have been done by yesterday, but that probably wouldn’t be fast enough anyways.
Anyways. For me here, there’s yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and unnecessarily (or maybe just really necessary) long pee breaks. And trying to engrain in my students’ brains that it’s okay(!!) to take a little time to relax and unwind. I’ve got my own version of kimbap too—it’s loaded with good stuff to keep your belly happy for a long time, but thankfully its prep is just as palli palli as you might need.
So what exactly qualifies as kimbap? That one’s pretty easy. In Korean, “kim” is the seaweed paper used to wrap things up, while “bap” simply means rice. Hence, “kimbap.” As for the filler, Kabocha squash is common to Korea and always well-stocked at the grocery store, making it a no-brainer for my beta-carotene-packed rolls. And you already know how I feel about the best little protein powerhouse pseudograin quinoa. Combine that with some tahini for extra stomach staying power and you have a magical trifecta, a fare for fuel at all hours, and rightfully so—kimbap here serves as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an easy snack.
Kabocha Quinoa Kimbap (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, nut-free)
Makes 2-3 rolls
1 cup quinoa
1/2 kabocha squash
swiss chard leaves (or any sturdy green), washed and patted dry
coconut aminos, soy sauce, or tamari for dipping, if desired
Deseed your kabocha squash and cut it into chunks (if you can get them into strips all the more power to you, mine turned out more like cubes with my dull knives here) and roast in the oven with coconut oil, salt, and pepper, checking halfway through to flip. While the squash is roasting, cook the quinoa on your stovetop. Allow the quinoa to cool, but not too much—I find these stick together better with the heat from the grains, it almost seems to steam the roll shut.
To make the roll, layer in this order: greens, quinoa, squash, drizzle of tahini. Roll your veggies up, using water to seal the roll. Slice thinly and enjoy immediately, or do it Korean-style: wrap tightly in aluminum foil, grab a pair of chopsticks, and take it for the road!