What is kimbap? – Origin and history of kimbap

What is Kimbap?

Gimbap, also known as Korean seaweed rice rolls, is a popular snack food in Korea. It is made by wrapping rice with seaweed, forming it into a round shape, and then cutting it into pieces. Gimbap is often shared among individuals, with a long roll being cut into smaller portions.

The history of seaweed consumption in Korea can be traced back to ancient times. The Samguk Yusa, a historical record, mentions the first person to eat seaweed, and later records document the collection of seaweed in Bonchogangmok. Seaweed farming began in 1650 by Prince Kim Yeo-ik of Gwangyang, Jeollanam-do. Over time, people naturally started wrapping rice in seaweed and consuming it. Historical records also indicate that during the Yeolyangsegi and Dongguksegi periods, people consumed a dish consisting of seaweed and rice wrapped in cabbage leaves. Chongmu gimbap can be considered as the origin of the present-day kimbap.


In terms of nutritional information, a typical serving of gimbap contains approximately 450 calories, 12g of fat, 70g of carbohydrates, 12g of protein, 250mg of sodium, and 30mg of cholesterol. The calorie content of gimbap is suitable for a meal, as a typical Korean meal ranges from 600-800 calories. The carbohydrate content is slightly less than a bowl of rice, but it provides adequate satiety for a single meal. The balance of fat and protein in gimbap is relatively good. The 12g of fat is necessary for maintaining metabolism, body temperature, and hormone secretion. Overall, gimbap can be considered a nutritionally well-balanced food option.

Origin of kimbap

Kimbap, a roll-shaped food made by wrapping rice and various ingredients in seaweed, is a representative Korean dish. It has several stories about its origin. One story suggests that gimbap originated during the Goryeo Dynasty in the 12th century. Rice was scarce and expensive at the time, so people mixed it with vegetables as an alternative food.

During the Joseon Dynasty, gimbap is said to have evolved from a noodle dish called Gyudon. In the late Joseon Dynasty, people started rolling up gimbap with rice, leading to its continued enjoyment today. Another story links the origin of gimbap to the Japanese colonial period. As Japanese food culture was introduced to Korea in the early 20th century, the roll sandwich called Mari, popular in Japan, made its way back to Korea. The Korean version, Kim Mari, was developed using seaweed and rice, and it eventually became widely known as kimbap.

Origin of kimbap

Kimbap is loved by many people for its simplicity, nutrition, and convenience. It typically consists of rice, eggs, vegetables, and seaweed. Over time, it has evolved into various types and styles. People have customized gimbap to suit their tastes, adding ingredients like ham, cheese, sausage, and tuna. It is enjoyed in various settings in Korea, from home-cooked meals to street snacks. Kimbap has become one of Korea’s representative snacks, cherished by people both domestically and internationally. While gimbap is primarily known as a Korean dish, similar types of food wrapped with vegetables and meat can be found in different parts of the world. For example, Japan has sushi, China has rice rolls, Vietnam has wax kimbap, Thailand has fish wraps, Mexico has tacos, and the Middle East has seaweed rolls and kebabs.

The nutritional pleasure of kimbap

Kimbap is not only a delicious dish but also a healthy one. It offers a range of nutritional benefits that contribute to overall well-being.

  • **Balanced Nutrition:** Kimbap contains a combination of healthy grains, refreshing vegetables, and protein-rich ingredients, providing a balanced mix of nutrients.
  • **Fiber-Rich Ingredients:** Gimbap is packed with vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce, which are high in dietary fiber. Fiber aids digestion, promotes bowel regularity, and helps you feel fuller for longer, supporting weight management and digestive health.
  • **Abundance of Vegetables:** Kimbap includes a generous amount of vegetables, offering a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients contribute to overall health, boost immune function, and support the body’s natural defenses against diseases.


  • **Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:** Seaweed, a primary ingredient in kimbap, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are beneficial for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation in the body.
  • **Control Over Ingredients:** By making your own kimbap, you have control over the ingredients and can reduce the sodium content. Opting for low-fat soy sauce or using less salty ingredients allows you to enjoy kimbap with less salt, which is advantageous for individuals who need to monitor their sodium intake.

Preparing kimbap is relatively simple, requiring ingredients like seaweed, rice, pickled radish, carrots, cucumbers, ham, eggs, salt, sesame oil, and a kimbap sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Recipes for making kimbap can be easily found and followed. Explore the fascinating history of kimbap, discover its surprising nutritional benefits, and enjoy the experience of creating delicious and healthy kimbap that suits your family’s taste buds.

Frozen kimbap

Frozen gimbap is a popular Korean dish that offers a unique and savory taste. It consists of frozen steak and kimchi, served over rice with a delightful sauce made from kimchi, ginger, and garlic. This dish has gained popularity in Korea as a top choice for frozen food due to its rich flavors. The concept of frozen gimbap originated from the need for a quick and simple meal during the cold winter months when fresh ingredients are scarce. Today, it has become so popular that many restaurants and street food stalls in Korea specialize in selling frozen food.

Frozen kimbap

Frozen gimbap is pre-made kimbap that is frozen for later consumption. It’s a convenient option for those who want to enjoy kimbap without the hassle of making it from scratch. You can find frozen gimbap in Korean grocery stores or the Asian or international food section of supermarkets. When freezing kimbap, tightly wrap it in plastic or store it in an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent freezer damage. To eat frozen gimbap, thaw it in the refrigerator or leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Some people enjoy eating it straight from the freezer as a cold snack. Note that frozen gimbap may have a slightly different texture and taste compared to freshly made kimbap, but it’s still a delicious option. You can add vegetables or enjoy it with French fries to explore different variations. Frozen gimbap is often served as a spicy side dish or enjoyed as a light meal.

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