Spicy tuna kimbap

13 Apr

Kimbap (literal translation – seaweed rice) is a Korean version of the California roll that contains yellow pickled radish, spinach, carrot, imitation crab meat, fish cake and usually some sort of meat, whether it’s bulgogi, seasoned beef, or sausage. In this particular case, it’s tuna! Not the expensive kind; the canned kind will do just fine.

Kimbap is definitely not something you would find in a formal Korean meal setting. Instead, it’s considered more of a snack that you’d grab from a street cart. Kimbap is a must-have lunch item for any kind of field trip. This is a super easy version, only containing 3 main ingredients!

Recipe: Spicy tuna kimbap 

Makes 2 servings


2 sheets of seaweed (sushi kind)
1 package of yellow pickled radish, sliced into long strips
1 cup of cooked white sushi rice
1 can of tuna
1 teaspoon of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1/2 teaspoon of mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce (optional)
Hint of sesame oil
Sprinkle of black pepper


1. Put 1 cup of cooked rice into a bowl and give it some time to cool. As long as the rice is warm to the touch and not hot, you’re good to go.

2. Place seaweed on a sushi mat (if you have one). Spread about 1/2 cup of rice evenly across 2/3 of the way.

3. Drain juices from the can of tuna. Add gochujang, Sriracha sauce, mayo, sesame oil, and pepper.

4. Add radish and tuna in a line, making sure that it’s distributed evenly.

5. Smear some rice across the edge to use as an adhesive and roll the entire thing toward that edge.

6. Slice into pieces, about 7-8 pieces for each roll.

No soy sauce is necessary for this and is a bit easier than making California rolls. It’s cheap, quick and yummy!

This was so good but it would have been even better with some sesame seed leaves!

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  • Grace

    canned tuna??? and lots of radish? interesting…you’re going to have to make that for me sometime. :)

  • http://www.deglazeme.blogspot.com Christina@DeglazeMe

    Yay I love kimbap! The good ol’ Korean snack. Although there was one time when I was young that I got terrible food poisoning from kimbap that the Korean moms at church left out of the fridge for too long. Nonetheless, I still love it!!! Yours is so creative and different!!

  • Andrew

    Only Koreans understand the sesame leaf. I have gotten it several times and just don’t see the appeal of it haha.

  • http://www.myspace.com/catesong caged songbird

    yummm I <3 this roll. And so simple to make! I think I will actually try this one of these days!

  • sam

    I don’t know why but I never really liked the yellow picked radish. Even when I eat jjajjangmyun I rarely have any. But that really looks good, I’m ready for an early lunch!

  • ambitious

    This is really yummy, Grace! Try it =)

    I hate how kimbap gets rock hard in the fridge, Christina! Aw..I’m sorry you got sick from it though! That doesn’t mean you are anti-kimbap, right?

    Maybe it’s an acquired taste, Andrew – but I love it!!

    Please let me know when you make it, Caged Songbird!

    I heard recently that yellow pickled radish is not that good for you anyway, Sam! It has chemicals in it.

  • http://loveistoartas.wordpress.com Suzan

    mmMm kimbap! this looks really delish!

    i bet it would taste amazing with sesame leaves! my favorite =)

  • http://passionateeater.blogspot.com Passionate Eater

    Similar to Christina, I also have lots of experiencing eating kimbap at church. Thankfully, now I can make it at home because of your great recipe!

  • ambitious

    YAY for sesame leaves, Suzan!!!

    PE- Kimbap at church – hilarious! :) I love how we can all relate to each other on that level!!

  • http://justcooknyc.blogspot.com/ justcooknyc

    it’s funny because I’ve done a lot of experimenting with korean food at home, but never kimbop (even though I get it a lot when I go out). it’s all about that sauce, which I didn’t know how to make. thanks for the recipe.

  • http://vanniford.blogspot.com/ Van

    I like how your site was the first to come up when I googled Spicy Tuna Kimbap. I followed your recipe to make some for a foliage hike and they were delicious at the top of the mountain. Yum.

    When are you coming back to Boston?

  • Esther

    @Van – that’s awesome! Glad to hear it. =)

    I’m not sure…but i will let you know when i’m bacccck!

  • sokin david yoon

    hey esther! hi from thailand. its sokin (david). we are using this recipe for our thai students. my mission team is having a korean night event for thai students at the university here and we are making spicy tuna kimbap haha. and so i googled a recipe and lo and behold, ur site was the first hit! haha. hope all is well! thanks for the recipe!

  • http://www.ambitiousdeliciousness.com Esther

    Hi David! Thanks for the comment. I’ve heard that before – that when you google, this pops up. =) I hope you are having a great time in Thailand! More importantly, enjoy the recipe!!

  • Confusedr3iko

    HI, could i use any type of canned tuna? 

  • http://www.ambitiousdeliciousness.com Esther @ambitiousdelish

    Hi there. I prefer Korean canned tuna, actually but any kind will do. Thanks for the question!