recipes that teach you how to cook without recipes

Kimbap/Budget Sushi

The title of this recipe is perhaps misleading because this is neither a recipe for “authentic” kimbap and it is certainly not sushi. Technically sushi is sushi because of the vinegared rice and the rice in kimpab uses sesame oil and salt for seasoning. I usually combine all seasonings (vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil) so call these what you want. Regardless, these are super delicious and very impressive, but really affordable and easy to make. 

You can literally fill these rolls with anything. I tend to use veggie fillings because it’s quick, cheap and keeps well for work lunches. Feel free to get creative though. Kimbap can have bulgogi, eggs, fishcakes and more. I’m sure there are also a million possibilities that aren’t traditionally in kimbap or sushi like smoked salmon or tempeh. You do you, and don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t “real” kimbap. 

Serves 4-5


2 cups cooked rice (short grain/sushi rice is ideal but jasmine also works)

4-5 nori sheets

salt (to taste)

sesame oil (to taste)

rice vinegar (optional, to taste)

sugar (optional, to taste)

fillings (some ideas):

pan fried tofu

cooked sweet potato

sauteed spinach and/or mushrooms with garlic

pickled radish


peppers, cucumbers, carrots


gochujang or sriracha 

sesame seeds



  1. With the smooth side of the nori sheet down, spread a thin layer of rice on the nori, leaving about one cm of nori uncovered at the top of the sheet.
  2. Add your toppings about a third of the way up the nori sheet.
  3. Roll it up! This might need some practice and using a sushi mat helps but you definitely don’t need one. 
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll in half, then each half in half and finally each quarter in half to get 8 pieces. Wiping your knife with a hot towel every few cuts will ensure clean cuts.


I usually make a gochujang, soy sauce and sesame seed sauce to put inside the rolls so I don’t use a dipping sauce. If you prefer, you can omit the gochujang inside the rolls and use soy sauce for dipping. 

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