Tuna Kimbap with Kimchi

Tuna Kimbap Recipe (Chamchi Kimbap)

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With the temperatures rising, why not make a classic Korean picnic food? In South Korea, kimbap is a quick, convenient, and cheap food you can easily find. Not only does kimbap taste great, but it also contains lots of vegetables, protein, and carbs. So, what better food to eat when on the go or out for a picnic? This particular kimbap recipe is known as chamchi kimbap. In English, this translates to tuna kimbap!


Below, we list everything you need to know about tuna kimbap. First, we explain what Korean kimbap is. Then, we list the ingredients, give cooking tips, and answer frequently asked questions about this dish! We hope you enjoy our chamchi kimbap recipe! 

What Is Kimbap?

When visiting South Korea, if you ask a native for a cheap and simple meal option, they will often recommend trying kimbap (김밥). Kimbap is a dish made by rolling rice and different filling ingredients in dried seaweed. Then, the roll is sliced into individual bite-sized pieces. Around the world, people believe Korean kimbap is the exact same food as Japanese sushi. While they look similar, they couldn’t be more different. If you would like an in-depth explanation about the differences, check out our blog post ‘Kimbap vs Sushi: What Is the Difference?’. 

A plate with all the ingredients for tuna kimbap.
All the Ingredients for Tuna Kimbap!

One of my favorite aspects of making kimbap is that there is no set recipe or understanding of how it must taste. Instead, when making it, you can add or take away ingredients based on your preferences or what you have in your kitchen. For example, one day you may crave spam, kimchi, and spinach. On another day, you may prefer egg, pickled radish, and perilla leaves. Kimbap flavors are easy to switch up and change! So, to me, a kimbap recipe is more of a guide than something you need to follow precisely.  

Other Korean Kimbap Recipes:

In my house, we often make kimbap as a lunch option. Actually, I have already shared two kimbap recipes on this blog so far. The first is a convenient, hand-held version known as triangle kimbap. Often, you can buy triangle kimbap in convenience stores in South Korea for less than $2. I also shared a fun cheese kimbap recipe. In that recipe, you roll mozzarella cheese in kimchi fried rice and dried seaweed. It is the perfect spicy and creamy treat! 

A photo of all the ingredients necessary for tuna kimbap.
Don’t They All Look Delicious?!

Tuna Kimbap (Chamchi Kimbap) Filling Ingredients: 

Below, we list the ingredients for our tuna kimbap recipe. If you cannot find some of these ingredients, you can easily replace them with something you have at home or omit them completely!

  • A Can or Packet of Tuna: For this recipe, tuna (chamchi) is the main protein. I enjoy my canned tuna mixed with some mayonnaise and a bit of vinegar. For those who dislike tuna, I recommend canned chicken, spam, imitation crab, or real crab! 
  • Korean Pickled Radish (Danmuji): Korean pickled daikon radish, known as danmuji, adds crunchiness to the dish. The vinegar from the pickling process also adds brightness to the kimbap. You can buy danmuji in Asian markets and online. If you cannot find the ingredient, omit it or make a quick pickle using daikon radish from the grocery store. 
  • Blanched Spinach: Mixed with salt and sesame oil, the blanched spinach adds a robust and acidic flavor to the kimbap. 
  • Sautéed Carrots: The sautéed carrots add crunchiness to the roll! 
  • Perilla Leaves: Perilla leaves taste grassy with a bit of a spicy flavor. The fresh greens add crunchiness to this dish. You can find perilla leaves at Asian grocery store markets. Unfortunately for those who do not live near an Asian grocery store, there is no good substitute for these leaves. So, you can add a different green leafy lettuce or you can omit it completely. 
  • Eggs: Another protein we added to this dish is eggs. To make these eggs, you whisk them until fully combined. Then, you pour a thin layer of the eggs into a hot frying pan. You let the eggs cook on one side fully. Then, you flip and let the other side cook. In Korea, people cut these eggs up in strips to add to their kimbap. 

Other Ingredient Options: 

If you would like to try other popular Korean kimbap ingredients, you can look at the options below. Some examples of other popular ingredients in kimbap include:

  • Pan-Fried Spam
  • Sautéed Beef
  • Imitation Crab
  • Cucumber 
  • Eomuk (Korean Fish Cakes)
  • Cheese
  • Oeong (Braised Burdock Roots), And So On… 
A close up shot of dried seaweed with the filler ingredients in the back.
Add Rice to the Dried Seaweed. Then, You Can Add the Filler Ingredients!

Tuna Kimbap (Chamchi Kimbap) Tips and Tricks:

  • To protect the bamboo mat, place a layer of plastic wrap between the bamboo rolling mat and the dried seaweed. That way, you protect the mat from getting food stuck in between the pieces of bamboo. It can be a hassle to clean! 
  • The shiny side of the dried seaweed should face down on the mat. The rough side should face up. You will place the rice and filling ingredients on the rougher side.
  • When spreading the rice onto the dried seaweed, make sure you spread it evenly across the entire sheet. Then, make sure to leave a 1-inch gap at the top of the dried seaweed. This gap allows the seaweed to seal on top of one another. 
  • Once rolled, if the seaweed does not connect well, add some water or sesame oil to the small gap. The liquid will allow the dried seaweed to moisten and stick together well. 
  • When cutting kimbap or sushi, always make sure your knife is sharp. The dried seaweed which wraps the rice and filling ingredients together tears easily. If your knife isn’t sharp, you may ripe open the roll and cause all the fillings to fall out. 
  • Lightly brush some sesame oil on the sides of your knife. This will also make the cutting process easier for you! 

Finally, below are some items you may need to make this kimbap recipe. You can find all these items on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I am affiliated with these links.

Tuna Kimbap Frequently Asked Questions:

Below, we listed some questions you may have about this tuna kimbap recipe. If we do not answer your question, feel free to leave a comment or email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com!

A close up shot of chamchi kimbap.
Delicious Tuna Kimbap (Chamchi Kimbap)!

What Type of Rice Should I Use?

In South Korea, when making kimbap, people usually use white, short-grained rice. In my family, we use the Calrose style of white rice. You can easily find this style of rice in most grocery stores and online. While not the exact type of rice used in South Korea, it is the most similar and readily available! 

Can You Make This Recipe Allergen-Free? (Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Etc.)

Yes! You can make this recipe allergen-free. Kimbap ingredients can change based on your dietary needs. If you cannot eat certain ingredients, simply omit those items or replace them with items you can eat. For example, for those with an egg allergy, simply leave the egg out. It will taste just as delicious! Like I said before, kimbap has no real set recipe. You can make it your own! 

The same rules apply for those with dietary restrictions such as vegetarian and vegan! You can omit or replace certain ingredients. If you cannot eat the tuna and/or egg, remove them or replace them. For example, you can easily replace the tuna with some sautéed bulgogi-style impossible burger meat to make it vegan! While it will no longer be chamchi kimbap, it will still taste yummy!

A close up shot of tuna kimbap.
Try Serving Kimbap With Tteokbokki! It’s Delicious!

Can You Make Kimbap In Advance? 

I would not recommend making kimbap far in advance. As kimbap sits, the rice naturally hardens over time. The hard rice makes it unenjoyable to eat. At most, I recommend making kimbap a few hours in advance. 

What Should I Do With the Leftovers? 

So, if kimbap does not taste good when made in advance, what should I do if I have leftovers? Well, if this happens, I recommend whisking a few eggs in a bowl. Then, dip the kimbap in the egg and pan-fry them on the stovetop. Pan-frying the kimbap pieces makes the rice loosen up and regain some moisture. As a result, doing this will make the kimbap into a type of Korean savory pancake called ‘kimbap jeon.’

An overhead shot of the rolls.
Do You Like Kimbap?

We Hope You Enjoy This Tuna Kimbap Recipe! 

We hope you enjoy trying this popular Korean picnic snack! If so, let us know in the comment section below. Also, we would love to hear about your favorite Korean picnic foods and snacks, like chamchi kimbap, as well!

If you would like to read more about cooking, you can find further recipes on our blog. We listed some of our favorite Korean Carving A Journey recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by our blended Korean and Southern heritage. 

Carving A Journey Food and Drink Recipes:

If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com.

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Tuna Kimbap Recipe (Chamchi Kimbap)

Recipe by EmilyCourse: RecipesCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Intermediate
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • Rice
  • 3 1/2 Cups of White Short-Grained Rice

  • 1 TBSP Sesame Oil

  • 1/4 TSP Salt

  • Main Ingredients
  • 6 Dried Seaweed Sheets

  • 4 Eggs

  • 2 Medium-Sized Carrots

  • 5 Cups Spinach

  • 12 Perilla Leaves

  • 6 Strips of Yellow Pickled Radish

  • 10 Oz Can of Tuna

  • Mayonnaise, to Taste

  • Sesame Oil, to Taste

  • Salt, to Taste

Directions

  • First, start cooking your white short-grained rice using your preferred cooking method (stovetop, rice cooker, instant pot, etc).
  • Cut the roots off from the spinach if they still have them. Then, rinse off the spinach. Blanch the spinach in boiling water until wilted (approximately 30 seconds.) Drain the spinach and water into a colander. Then, rinse it off with cold water and squeeze out any excess water. Place the spinach in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and a bit of sesame oil (about 1/2 TSP). Mix everything.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl. In a hot and well-oiled frying pan, pour just enough egg into the pan to cover the entire bottom. Cook one side until you can easily flip it over. Then, flip and cook the other side. Remove the egg from the frying pan to cook. Continue the process until you cooked all the whisked eggs. For 4 eggs it usually takes 2 batches in a 6-to-8 inch frying pan. Once the eggs cool enough to touch, cut them into thin strips.
  • Slice the carrot into short, thin slices. Sauté the carrots quickly in a frying pan until soft.
  • Once the rice is cooked and cooled, place it into a mixing bowl. Add the sesame oil and salt. Mix them well.
  • Finally, open the can of tuna and drain it. Mix the tuna with mayonnaise-based on your preference.
  • Place all the ingredients together where you are going to roll the kimbap. Start by placing some plastic wrap over the bamboo mat. This will keep the mat clean.

  • Place one sheet of dried seaweed over the bamboo mat. The shiny side should face down. Place the rice on top and spread it over the seaweed in a thin layer. Leave 1 inch of the seaweed sheet empty at the top.
  • Next, add two perilla leaves, some carrots, the pickled radish, spinach, and tuna onto the rice. The ingredients need to sit tightly next to one another.
  • Lift the bottom of the mat and seaweed sheet over to cover the filling ingredients. Then, tightly roll. If the seaweed doesn’t stick together, brush with a bit of water.
  • Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining ingredients. Once you finish rolling everything, brush sesame oil on top of each kimbap roll.
  • Brush sesame oil over the sides of your knife to make cutting easier. Slice the kimbap into bite-sized pieces. Serve.

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