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Vegan Gimbap {Korean Seaweed Rice Roll}

What makes a perfect Gimbap roll? For me, it's not just the perfectly balanced sweet and savory flavors and the different layers of textures, it's also the shape - the perfect shape being two concentric circles of rice and fillings. And I will show you exactly how to create these neat and appealing shapes!


But first, what is Gimbap? Gimbap, sometimes also spelled as Kimbap, is a Korean dish made with steamed white rice and dried seaweed, which is of course similar to the Japanese version. But there are two big differences: the rice and the filling. While sushi rice is seasoned with vinegar, kimbap is instead cut with sesame oil and sweeter. As for the fillings, traditional Japanese sushi incorporates mostly raw fish, whereas Gimbap consists of a combination of sweet and savory ingredients like spinach, kimchi, grilled bulgogi, omelet, and ham, etc.


Being a huge fan of both sushi and gimbap, I made these vegan gimbaps with glazed tofu, blanched spinach, cucumber, carrot, and, to add a sweet surprise, purple sweet potato! And the trick to create the perfect concentric shape is to first roll the fillings separately with a piece of nori, then use a second nori sheet to roll up the rice and the already wrapped fillings.


If you want to explore more vegan sushi varieties, I've got you covered - Vegan Sushi Supreme, which includes maki, nigiri, and battleship rolls, Vegan Dragon Rolls with mango and avocado on the outside, Vegan Carrot Salmon Rolls, or try the viral Tofu Salmon Rice Bowl!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cup cooked white rice
1 block 16oz extra firm tofu
2 cucumber
2 carrot
1 sweet purple potato
1 bunch spinach (NOT baby spinach!)
8 nori sheet
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sweetener of choice
1 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
1 tablespoon coconut amino
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
Neutral oil for cooking

TO MAKE:

- Cook the rice according to package instruction, season with the sesame oil and sweetener, set aside;
- Drain and gently squeeze the tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slices, in a large non-stick frying pan, heat a large drizzle of oil over medium high heat, pan fry the tofu until both sides are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side;
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the tamari/soy sauce, coconut amino, and vinegar;
- When the tofu slices are done frying and crispy, slowly pour in the sauce mixture, lower the heat to low and quickly stir the tofu to coat evenly, continue to flip and cook until all sides are coated and the sauce thickened into a glaze;
- Remove from the pan, and cut the tofu slices into sticks;
- Prepare the other vegetables, julienne the cucumber and carrot, I used a julienne peeler, bring a pot of water to boil, blanch the spinach for 2-3 minutes till they're soft, trim off the roots;
- And if using sweet potato, bake the sweet potato as a whole at 400°F for 50-60 minutes, peel and cut into 1/4 inch stripes;
- Start assembling the gimbap, lay down a nori sheet on the bamboo mat, arrange the fillings, and tightly roll them up;
- On a second nori sheet, press down a layer of rice, not covering the entire sheet, just enough to roll up the filling roll, you'll need to do a little eyeball measurement here;
- Place the rolled-up fillings to the end of rice, tightly roll up again, and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices;
- Drizzle on some vegan mayo, enjoy!

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