How to Make Samgak-gimbap: A Popular Korean Snack

Samgak-gimbap, a popular Korean snack, is a quick and convenient option for a simple lunch or on-the-go treat. Made with a sheet of gim (seaweed paper) that’s wrapped in plastic for freshness, this triangular-shaped snack can be easily found in Korean grocery stores. The recipe offers two filling options: bulgogi or kimchi. The beef version uses seasoned ground beef, while the kimchi filling combines fermented kimchi, gochujang, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Before assembling, the rice is fluffed and mixed with toasted sesame oil for added flavor. Using a triangular mold, the fillings are added to the rice, and the gimbap is shaped and sealed with a sticker. Whether enjoyed immediately or refrigerated for later, this versatile recipe allows for endless customization with different fillings, making it a delightful snack for any occasion.


To make samgak-gimbap, or triangle-shaped gimbap, the following ingredients are needed:

Gim (seaweed paper)

Gim, also known as seaweed paper, is the main wrapping component of samgak-gimbap. It provides a savory, umami flavor and a crispy texture to the gimbap.

Plastic wrap

Plastic wrap is used to wrap the gim and keep it fresh and crispy until it is ready to be consumed.

Samgak-gimbap kit (includes triangular mold and stickers)

A samgak-gimbap kit typically includes a triangular mold and stickers that are used to shape and seal the gimbap. These kits can be purchased from Korean grocery stores and make the process of making samgak-gimbap easier and more convenient.

For bulgogi filling:

  • Ground beef
  • Bulgogi seasoning

The bulgogi filling is made by cooking ground beef and seasoning it with bulgogi seasoning. This adds a savory, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor to the gimbap.

For kimchi filling:

  • Fermented kimchi
  • Gochujang
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds

The kimchi filling is made by chopping fermented kimchi into small pieces and mixing it with gochujang (a Korean chili paste), toasted sesame oil, and sesame seeds. This filling provides a tangy, spicy, and rich flavor to the gimbap.

Cooked rice

Cooked rice is used as the base for samgak-gimbap. It serves as a binding ingredient that holds the fillings together and provides a neutral base for the flavors of the fillings to shine.

How to Make Samgak-gimbap: A Popular Korean Snack

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Preparing the Rice

Before assembling the samgak-gimbap, it is important to properly prepare the rice. Follow these steps:

Cook the rice

Start by cooking the desired amount of rice according to the instructions on the packaging. Ensure that the rice is fully cooked and has a fluffy texture.

Fluff the rice

After cooking the rice, use a fork or a rice paddle to gently fluff the grains. This helps to separate the grains and create a light, airy texture.

Add toasted sesame oil to the rice

Drizzle a small amount of toasted sesame oil over the cooked rice. The sesame oil adds a nutty aroma and a subtle flavor to the rice.

Mix thoroughly

Using a gentle folding motion, mix the toasted sesame oil into the rice until it is evenly distributed. Be careful not to mash or break the rice grains while mixing.

How to Make Samgak-gimbap: A Popular Korean Snack

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Making the Fillings

The fillings are what give samgak-gimbap its distinct flavors. Here’s how to prepare the bulgogi and kimchi fillings:

For bulgogi filling:

  • Cook the ground beef In a skillet over medium heat, cook the ground beef until it is fully cooked and browned. Make sure to break up any clumps of meat while cooking.

  • Add bulgogi seasoning Once the ground beef is cooked, add the bulgogi seasoning to the skillet. Stir well to coat the meat evenly with the seasoning. Continue to cook for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

  • Mix thoroughly Using a spatula or a spoon, mix the bulgogi seasoning into the cooked ground beef until it is well incorporated. Set aside for later use.

For kimchi filling:

  • Chop the fermented kimchi into small pieces Using a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors, chop the fermented kimchi into small, bite-sized pieces. This allows the kimchi to be evenly distributed throughout the gimbap.

  • In a bowl, mix the chopped kimchi with gochujang, sesame oil, and sesame seeds In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped kimchi, gochujang, toasted sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Adjust the amount of gochujang and sesame oil according to your preferred level of spiciness and richness.

How to Make Samgak-gimbap: A Popular Korean Snack

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Shaping the Samgak-gimbap

The triangular shape of samgak-gimbap is achieved using a triangular mold. Follow these steps to shape the gimbap:

Prepare the triangular mold

Take the triangular mold from the samgak-gimbap kit and ensure that it is clean and dry. This ensures that the mold does not stick to the rice during shaping.

Place the gim on a clean surface

Lay a sheet of gim on a clean, flat surface. The gim acts as a wrapper for the gimbap and provides a layer of protection for the rice and fillings.

Put the mold on top of the gim

Carefully place the triangular mold on top of the gim, ensuring that it is centered.

Add a layer of rice to the mold

Scoop a generous amount of the prepared rice into the mold, filling it about one-third of the way full. Use the back of a spoon or a rice paddle to evenly spread the rice and pack it down gently.

Add the desired filling on top of the rice

Place a spoonful of either bulgogi or kimchi filling on top of the rice in the mold. Ensure that the filling is evenly spread and covers the entire surface area of the rice.

Cover the filling with more rice

Add another layer of rice on top of the filling, filling the mold to about two-thirds full. Again, use the back of a spoon or a rice paddle to spread and pack the rice down gently.

Press down firmly

Using the mold, press down firmly on the rice, compressing it and compacting the fillings. Apply even pressure to ensure that the gimbap holds its shape.

Remove the mold

Carefully lift the mold off the shaped gimbap, leaving the compacted rice and fillings intact.

Fold the gim over the rice and filling

Take the edges of the gim and fold them over the rice and filling, wrapping them tightly to create a triangle shape. The gim should adhere to itself naturally due to its slightly sticky nature.

Seal the samgak-gimbap with the provided sticker

To keep the samgak-gimbap securely closed, use one of the stickers provided in the samgak-gimbap kit. Place the sticker over the folded edge of the gim, ensuring that it is firmly sealed.

How to Make Samgak-gimbap: A Popular Korean Snack

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Serve or Store

Samgak-gimbap can be enjoyed immediately or stored for later consumption. Here are the options:

Enjoy the samgak-gimbap immediately

If you are ready to enjoy the samgak-gimbap right away, simply remove the plastic wrap from the gim, revealing the crispy seaweed wrapper. Bite into the gimbap and savor the combination of flavors and textures.

Refrigerate for later consumption

If you want to enjoy the samgak-gimbap at a later time, refrigerate it to maintain its freshness. Wrap the gimbap in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. It can be enjoyed within a day or two of preparation.

How to Make Samgak-gimbap: A Popular Korean Snack

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One of the great things about samgak-gimbap is its versatility. Here are some ways to customize your gimbap:

Experiment with different fillings

While bulgogi and kimchi are traditional fillings for samgak-gimbap, you can get creative and try different fillings. Some popular options include spicy tuna, ham and cheese, and even vegetarian fillings like pickled radish and cucumber.

Vegetarian options

For vegetarian samgak-gimbap, replace the bulgogi filling with cooked and seasoned tofu or tempeh. These substitutes provide a protein-rich and flavorful alternative to meat.

Add vegetables like carrots, cucumber, or spinach

To add more texture and freshness to your samgak-gimbap, consider adding thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, or blanched spinach to your fillings. This adds a vibrant color and a crunch to each bite.

In conclusion, samgak-gimbap is a delicious and convenient Korean snack or simple lunch option. With a few simple ingredients and the right technique, you can create triangle-shaped gimbap filled with flavorful fillings of your choice. Whether you enjoy it right away or save it for later, samgak-gimbap is a versatile and customizable dish that is sure to satisfy your cravings.

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