I’m a bit of a mixed bag. More a mixed bag of nuts as I’m kinda nutty, more crazy than quirky.
I grew up in a very Australian household enjoying barbecues several times a week, salad optional; minimum 2 varieties of meat essential, vegemite sangas and sao’s with cheese and tomato. With my Scottish mum designated to preparing meals,(very typically reflective of most baby-boomer nuclear households) there was also a strong British influence. I have very strong and fond memories of casseroles, soups and mince and tatties; not to mention Coronation Street, Heartbeat and whisky.
By face value, I apparently have a very Korean face, but my fashion sense and makeup is not very Gangnam style, or actually my face – no plastic surgery here….yet!
But anyway, I’ve been described as a banana before, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Actually a term of affection or endearment….not as derogatory as it sounds or to be confused with being FOB-by (Fresh off the boat – an Asian in a western country, not assimilating and acting, well, very Asian….I don’t make these things up!!)
So I thought it finally time to embrace my banana-like, Konglish, fusion culture and make food reflective of my own culture. To share my relatively new found love of Korean food mashed together with all the best, fresh elements of Australian food.
Kimbap 김밮, directly translating to seaweed (kim) and rice (bap) is as revered as tteokbokki 떡볶이 in the hearts and s(e)oul of all Koreans, bringing back memories of childhood, picnics and uni days. Both are cheap, tasty eats available at all street vendors or quickly slapped together by mothers as a snack food with limitless variations.
Pretty tasty. Extra tasty after soju.
Kimbap is the equivalent to a sandwich. Similar to sushi, (but don’t mention that to hardcore patriotic Koreans, may as well ask them if Dokdo belongs to Japan) Kimbap is rolled rice, usually short grain white rice seasoned with sesame or perilla oil and with a variety of fillings; usually the ubiquitous yellow pickle, sweet marinated lotus root, bulgolgi ham, egg, tofu and sarimi stick. Due to the heavy lashings of sesame oil, no other seasoning is usually required making it the perfect snack/meal on the run.
Quality varies from the GS25 roll or Samgak kimbap 삼각김밥 (triangle kimbap); that’s been sitting there for god knows how long, to the skinny, uniform rolls at any street vendor, battered, deep-fried and deep-fried again as you please! New restaurants such as School Food are revamping humble Korean staple foods by substituting white rice for black rice and more gourmet fillings.
Still-life artistic triangle kimbap shot
And then, there’s me, committing cardinal Korean food murder, fusing together well-known foods from Australia, like quinoa and cashew chive pesto and salad fillings such as mixed greens and cucumber with traditional Korean ingredients. Yet to try a hamburger with the works style with beetroot, bacon and a fried egg, but never say never, right?
Some worked, some didn’t.
I liked them all, and so did some friends and random taste testers, but when you’re messing about with very traditional Korean food, with tastes that are ingrained and reliably taste the same wherever you go in Korea, there’s going to be some resistance.
It’s like changing a cheeseburger. Or leaving out the beetroot on a hamburger.
You’re messing with the food gods.
But it’s a start, and generally feedback was good, although the flavours need to be very strong for the korean palette. The kimchi infused quinoa was more popular, as there was some familiarity.
Looking forward to more experimentation with new flavours, bases and fillings, let me know if you wanna be a taste tester!
Continuing on…I don’t have a bamboo mat for ease of rolling, so you can sub with greaseproof paper or seran wrap just fine.