Skip to content

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

February 21, 2013

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanPin it!

For Paula’s birthday earlier this month, she requested Bulgogi Chicken.

I was happy to oblige her, but we make Bulgogi Chicken so often around here (one of us tends to request it about once a week…), that I felt like it wasn’t quite fancy enough for a birthday feast.

I decided to go all out and make some Kimchi Kimbap (sushi). If there are two things I’m grateful that Paula loves (almost) as much as I do, they’re cilantro and kimchi. Thank goodness we agree on such controversial edibles, I don’t even want to think about how complicated our meals would become if we didn’t.

How to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

Kimbap is a Korean dish featuring rice (bap) and other ingredients rolled up in seaweed (kim). You might recognize it as maki-zushi. I love kimchi, but it had never occurred to me before to put it INSIDE kimbap until the last time I was in Seoul and a friend and I ordered “Korean junk food” (think deep-fried street food) for delivery, and there it was… (You can see pictures of our street food take-out near the end of my Travel Photo post: Markets and Street Food in Seoul.)

I also made homemade Cucumber Banchan, because no Korean meal is complete without banchan (side dishes), and these slightly spicy cucumber pickles are about the easiest banchan you can whip up while you’re also in the midst of preparing several other dishes.

Easy Korean Pickled Cucumber BanchanPin it!

And no Korean kimbap would be complete without danmuji, pickled daikon radish. The bright yellow tangy pickles add a refreshing crunch to the kimbap roll. I’ve included a mini recipe below for how to pickle your own daikon radish into danmuji (based on the recipe from the blog ShinShine, which suggests using turmeric– instead of yellow gardenia flowers– to give danmuji its distinctive color).

Kimchi and Homemade Danmuji Pickled Daikon for Kimchi Kimbap

The danmuji recipe takes about five minutes of active time, but then the daikon needs to sit in its pickling liquid overnight. If you can’t find daikon radish at a local Asian market, you can always skip the pickling, and just pair fresh strips of cucumber with the kimchi instead!

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanPin it!

The Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan, on the other hand, needs only 15-20 minutes minimum of pickling time, and even without a Korean feast to be accompanied by the pickles, they are so worth it as a tasty snack.

Easy Korean Pickled Cucumber Banchan

This post is yet another installment in my Korean Banchan series, which so far includes Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts and Kkaennip Kimchi (with perilla leaves).

Easy Korean Pickled Cucumber Banchan

I suppose the Kimchi Kimbap could also be a side dish of sorts– or an appetizer– if you’re planning to serve a heartier main dish like bulgogi or jap chae, but even kimbap on its own is pretty filling, and could easily be a whole meal. This kimbap in particular is quite visually stunning: the red kimchi and yellow danmuji stand out together against the speckled black and white sesame seeds and rice.

Kimchi Kimbap, Pickled Cucumber Banchan, and Korean Bulgogi Chicken

Based on this lavish birthday dinner, you might be thinking that Paula is lucky to have me… but I am lucky to have her, too: earlier this week she made me baked falafel chickpea patties, homemade hummus, and freshly baked pita bread. (I just made tzatziki.) And it wasn’t even my birthday!

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanPin it.

Print all recipes. (Cucumber Banchan, Danmuji, and Kimchi Kimbap.) (PDF)
Print Cucumber Banchan recipe only. (PDF)
Print Kimchi Kimbap and Danmuji recipes only. (PDF)


Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

~ 1 large cucumber (or 2 small Japanese cucumbers)
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
~ 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
~ ½ tsp. kochugaru (Korean chili powder)
~ sprinkle of sesame seeds

How to make it:

1. Thinly slice the cucumber, then place in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and place in the sink (or over a bowl to catch the excess liquid). Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

2. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid. (Taste and optionally rinse off a bit of the salt if it seems far too salty.)

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, sesame oil, and kochugaru, then add the cucumber slices and stir to coat the cucumber evenly in the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes.

Easy Korean Pickled Cucumber Banchan

4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving. (These pickles will stay crunchy and flavorful if kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.)

Print this recipe (Cucumber Banchan) only. (PDF)
Print all recipes. (Cucumber Banchan, Danmuji, and Kimchi Kimbap.) (PDF)

Homemade Danmuji (For the Kimchi Kimbap; called takuan in Japanese)
(Adapted from the blog ShinShine, here. )

~ ½ a large daikon radish (about 1 cup)
~ 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
~ ¼ cup water
~ 1½ tsp. sugar
~ ½ tsp. turmeric
~ ⅛ tsp. salt
~ several black peppercorns

How to make it:

1. Cut daikon into long, thin strips (you can also slice into half moons, if not using for kimbap). Arrange in a wide, shallow heatproof dish.

2. In a small saucepan, combine rice vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric, salt, and peppercorns, and slowly bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the daikon strips, then allow to cool to room temperature before covering with a lid (or plastic wrap), and let the daikon sit in the liquid overnight (it will pickle faster on the counter, rather than in the fridge).

Homemade Danmuji Pickled Daikon for Kimchi Kimbap

3. Then remove from the pickling liquid and store the danmuji in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or two.

Kimchi Kimbap

(Makes 6-8 rolls, serves 4-6 as a side dish)

~ 1¼ cups sushi rice
~ a little less than 1½ cups water
~ dash of cooking oil (optional)
~ 1½ Tbsp. rice vinegar
~ 1 tsp. sugar
~ pinch of salt
~ 6-8 sheets of nori seaweed for making kimbap/sushi
~ sprinkle of black sesame seeds
~ ½-¾ cup of kimchi, roughly chopped
~ several strips of danmuji pickled daikon (or substitute cucumber)
~ kkaennip or shiso (perilla) leaves, to wrap around the kimchi and danmuji, inside the kimbap
~ 6-8 chives or scallions, one to perk up each kimbap roll
~ sprinkle of kochukaru (Korean chili powder) inside the rolls to spice things up even more

Special equipment needed:
sushi rolling mat

How to make it:

1. Combine sushi rice and water, bring to a boil, then cover, turn the heat down to its lowest setting, and cook for 15 minutes. Then remove from the heat but keep covered for an additional 5 minutes to allow the rice to steam and become fluffy. (See recipe for Japanese sticky rice for more detailed instructions.) While the rice is still hot, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, then pour this over the rice, and mix it well. Next allow the rice to cool down nearly all the way before rolling the kimbap.

Sushi riceKim seaweed for rolling kimbap

2. Arrange a sheet of seaweed, shiny side down, on the sushi rolling mat (line up the bottom of the seaweed with the bottom of the mat). Scoop up a small amount of rice (about 1/3 cup), and spread it evenly out across the seaweed, leaving a 1″ margin free of rice at the top. Sprinkle the rice with black sesame seeds, then arrange a long strip of danmuji, and a long narrow row of chopped kimchi horizontally across the seaweed, about an inch from the bottom.

How to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanHow to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

3. Use the rolling mat to lift the bottom of the seaweed up and over the toppings, and give it a gentle but firm squeeze. Then unroll the mat, pull the kimbap roll back toward the bottom edge of the mat, and once again use the mat to roll the kimbap away from you until only the last 1″ margin of seaweed is exposed.

How to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanHow to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

Dip your fingers in a bit of water and run them lightly across this margin of seaweed to help seal it closed, then once again pull the kimbap closer to the bottom of the mat, and use the mat to roll the kimbap forward until it’s completely sealed, squeezing it gently but firmly (and rolling it forward a bit, then squeezing again if necessary).

How to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanHow to roll Kimbap - Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

4. Wait until all of the kimbap is rolled before slicing. Then use a very sharp knife with a slightly wet blade (dip it in a tall glass of water) to gently slice the rolls into 6-8 pieces. (The two pieces at each end might be too loose or sloppy to use– they’ll still taste good, though!– or they might still look nice arranged together with the other slices on a platter.) Serve immediately; with or without soy sauce.

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanKimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber Banchan

Print these recipes (Kimchi Kimbap and Danmuji) only. (PDF)
Print all recipes! (Cucumber Banchan, Danmuji, and Kimchi Kimbap.) (PDF)

Kimchi Kimbap and Easy Pickled Cucumber BanchanPin it!

Related recipe posts:
> Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)
> Jap Chae with Kimchi
> Banchan: Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts

36 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2013 9:22 am

    I love it. Very creative.

  2. February 21, 2013 12:21 pm

    this is me whenever you make bulgogi or sushi!

  3. February 21, 2013 1:26 pm

    Hi Allison – I was just looking for a pickled cucumber recipe the other day! My son and I took a japanese pantry and soba making class and I was working on a post class dinner using our bounty. And though I was on a japanese theme, I of course infused a bit of Korean tastes as well – a bit of sugar, a bit of spice. We’re all about fusion in this house.

    You guys are lucky to have each other! Pop over and say hi at OMG! Yummy or Tasting Jerusalem soon!

    • February 22, 2013 4:53 pm

      Hi Beth,
      Wow, a soba-making class! That sounds like fun! I like fusion-y creations too, though if you also want to know of another even quicker/easier (Japanese) pickled cucumber recipe, definitely check out my recipe for Quick Japanese Pickles (Tsukemono), too.

      We are definitely lucky to have each other. :) And I will pop over to your sites soon! :)

  4. February 21, 2013 2:00 pm

    Hi, your kimbap does look “visually stunning”. A very interesting feast!

  5. February 21, 2013 2:01 pm

    Wahhh your kimchi kimbap is beautifully done! I wish I’m in the neighborhood so that I could be invited tot his dinner.. :) I love banchan!

  6. February 21, 2013 9:18 pm

    What a feast! I don’t feel conversant enough in Korean food to pull off my whole own version, but you can be sure that there will be kimchi in one of my rolls next time I make sushi. Happy birthday to Paula!

    • February 22, 2013 6:30 pm

      Oh, I think you could pull it off! Especially since I know you’ve made delicious-looking brown rice sushi before, and the recipes for everything in that photo are on my blog… (in this post + bulgogi chicken). It’s not like I made my own kimchi (…someday!); that came out of a jar. :)

  7. February 24, 2013 11:40 am

    Reblogged this on Baguette in a Bike Basket and commented:
    I have the best fiancée…

  8. February 26, 2013 7:18 am

    Another yummy recipe for my to-do list, and I’d better hurry, because the daikon in my fridge is beginning to wilt!

    • February 26, 2013 10:09 am

      Yes, making danmuji is a nice way to use up a lot of daikon quickly! I say go for it; even if you don’t have time to make the kimbap, you can snack on the pickles. :)

  9. February 27, 2013 9:57 am

    I’ve always wanted to make sushi! I feel like I’d make a total mess though hah

    • February 28, 2013 10:16 am

      You can do it; I promise you! You just need to invest ($1 or $2) in a sushi rolling mat (and don’t fill the rolls with too much rice– I think that’s a common mistake with beginning sushi makers).

      It takes some time but other than that, It’s super easy; I actually make it quite often, though usually with more Japanese-y fillings like kamaboko (fake crab), avocado, cucumber, thin strands of omelette made with a dash of soy sauce, and if I’m feeling fancy, actual sashimi-grade raw fish. You can really put anything in it though! Sauteed mushrooms, strips of red bell pepper, chives, scallions, seasoned tofu, etc.

  10. February 27, 2013 12:00 pm

    this is one stunning creation Alison, I greatly admired it ;) I am sure very tasty too!

  11. March 4, 2013 1:09 pm

    Hello – I stumbled across your blog and cannot stop reading – love the eclectic selection of recipes! I also LOVE Korean food and your execution of kimbap is super impressive. Thank you for the recipe, will come back soon :)

    • March 6, 2013 9:07 am

      Thank you! :) That’s so nice of you to say! And yes, I’ve tried to keep the recipes on my blog eclectic– to match what’s happening in my kitchen– but I can’t help leaning a bit toward lots of Korean (and Japanese) recipes…

      Anyway, welcome! Hope you do stop by again soon. :)

  12. March 26, 2013 4:40 am

    I love kimchi too :-)

  13. March 28, 2013 10:01 am

    Oh my god, words cannot describe how delicious this looks. Not only could I inhale kimbap every day if I could (asian food connoisseuor here), but those danmuji look like a real treat too. Thanks for providing us such an easy recipie! I’ll have to try it :-) (PS – cute name! New reader here, just stumbled across your blog a few hours ago)

    • March 28, 2013 10:21 am

      Thank you, and welcome! :)

      I could eat kimbap/sushi just about every day too… and the danmuji gives it that extra addictively tangy crunch. Hm, now you got me thinking I should make this again soon!

  14. July 6, 2013 11:55 am

    I thought that for the rice in kimbap Koreans don’t use rice vinegar? At least recipes I saw so far all called for sesame oil and salt only.

    • July 6, 2013 4:15 pm

      I think you’re right! But I’ve never actually tried making it that way. I must have been on auto-pilot—just making Japanese sushi rice like I usually do—when I made this recipe; I didn’t even think about trying it with sesame oil and salt… next time! :)


  1. How to Make Tasty Tuna Kim Bop | From Korea with Love
  2. Blue Rose Of Winterfell Cupcakes (Guest Post) | spontaneous tomato
  3. Rabokki (Ramen + Tteokbokki) | spontaneous tomato
  4. Kimchijeon (Kimchi Pancake) | spontaneous tomato
  5. Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Sobagi) | spontaneous tomato
  6. Travel Photos: Weekend in Seoul | spontaneous tomato
  7. Travel Photos: Markets and Street Food in Seoul | spontaneous tomato
  8. Travel Photos: Okonomiyaki and Sushi in Japan | spontaneous tomato

Leave a Reply to Ozlem's Turkish Table Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: