On Sunday, when I wrote my Once Upon a Hike in Korea post, I mentioned bringing a triangle kimbap with me for food and I promised to explain what that was today.
First of all, for those of you who don’t know what kimpab is, it is a common Korean food made of rice and seaweed wrapped around various vegetables and meat, rolled up and cut into slices.
It is very common as a picnic or snack food and it is what moms often make for their kids when they’re going on a field trip.
Kimbap is usually made fresh, either at home or at a restaurant where they make it right there for you. However, there is another kind called triangle kimbap that is sold in convenience stores. It looks like this:
These come in many different types (usually various kinds of meat) but this one is my favorite: tuna mayonnaise. These tend to be less healthy than the regular variety and don’t have vegetables in them. As you can see, this cost 800 won, which is about 70 cents US, so they’re pretty cheap.
Another thing about these is that the shelf-life is insanely short, as it should be with anything like this. As you can see, the sell-by date is not just in days, but also in hours. This one was made at 9am on June 10 and was good until 22pm of June 11, or about an hour after I bought it.
The thing about these is that the insides are wet and they’re surrounded by dry seaweed, so how do you keep the seaweed dry and crisp until you want to eat it? The answer is that the seaweed is wrapped separately in plastic from the inside but still wrapped around the rice. So, to open it without totally disassembling takes a special design. This is how you do it.
Step 1: Pull the middle tab, cutting the outer plastic totally in two.
Step 2: Pull the two sides apart. You have to do this gently, since the seaweed is folded under and it’s fragile.
The wrapping is all gone now. Now you can open up the seaweed and see what the inside is like. It’s basically a triangle of rice with an indentation where they put whatever kind of meat is in it.
This is a great snack and easy to eat with your hands. And now, if you ever come across one, you’ll know how to eat it.
I had never seen anything like this until I came to Korea, but I’m curious: is there anything like this in any other countries that you know of? I’m always interested in learning about other cultures.
June 11th, 2013 at 11:27 pm
I can’t get my taste buds to like seaweed, no matter how many times I tried it. I usually just get nigiri. This would be a bad snack for me.
June 12th, 2013 at 6:08 pm
I have learned to like seaweed a lot since I’ve been here, since it’s pretty much everywhere. They also have peanut butter dried squid over here, if you want a really weird snack.
June 12th, 2013 at 9:23 pm
June 12th, 2013 at 9:28 pm
not so much.
June 12th, 2013 at 9:29 pm
June 11th, 2013 at 11:27 pm
Rumor has it that Japan also sells Triangle Gimpab but they call it something different. Great instructions by the way!
June 12th, 2013 at 6:06 pm
They probably do, since the cultures are quite similar. I wonder who made the first ever triangle kimbap.
March 12th, 2014 at 12:31 am
It’s called onigiri ^_^
March 12th, 2014 at 7:29 am
Does that mean anything specific? In Korea they are just samgak kimbap: literally triangle kimbap
June 12th, 2013 at 12:28 am
I don’t remember where exactly I have had (eaten) this food, but I have somewhere. I remember eating it like in the picture above as an appetiser or someway similar. It might have been at a Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant. Looks and sounds very familiar. I like trying the exotic Asian foods. But, not too crazy about all of them. I still have yet to eat some sushi though. 🙂
June 12th, 2013 at 6:05 pm
Well, if you ever want to come to Korea, we could go try some exotic foods. Some of the seafood, especially, is pretty cool.
June 13th, 2013 at 12:20 am
Thanks, David. I will keep that in mind. If I can be sure I don’t get sick or die from a food eaten, I will try them. 🙂 I love all kinds of fish and seafood though, which is the first step in trying the exotic and unusual.
June 12th, 2013 at 4:57 am
I ate these all the time when I was in Korea, and I was absolutely awful at opening them. I got it right about 1/10 times, but the rest of the time I had seaweed all over the place. Disaster.
June 12th, 2013 at 6:04 pm
It was years before I figured out the correct way. I always thought they were horribly designed, since you had to totally disassemble it first. It was a good day when I finally figured it out. 🙂
June 12th, 2013 at 10:05 pm
I know they have instructions on the package, but I always found them woefully unclear.
June 12th, 2013 at 10:20 pm
Yeah, I think they’re only clear if you already know how to open it.
June 12th, 2013 at 10:01 am
Whoa! It expires in hours. That would take getting used to. I guess you only buy these if you’re hungry. The triangular one reminds me of a hand roll, and the others of sushi. But, I guess they’re similar but different, huh?
June 12th, 2013 at 6:03 pm
They are similar to sushi, although these don’t have any raw fish in them. There is a Korean equivalent of sushi too, called chobap, and also an equivalent of sashimi, which is just the raw fish. I’ve never had one of these kimbap go bad on me, but it is nice to know they’re fresh when you buy them.
June 12th, 2013 at 8:08 pm
It’s really like our rice balls (onigiri. ) I sometimes buy them at convenience store
June 12th, 2013 at 8:47 pm
Yes, I figured they had something very similar in Japan, although I didn’t know what they were called, so thank you.
June 12th, 2013 at 11:47 pm
Yes, they have them in Japan. They’re just called onigiri, no “triangle” included. But they are indeed triangular. They are packaged the same way as the Korean ones. I love that packaging! I believe they also have that plastic packaging in Taiwan, because my Taiwanese friend sent me a set of wrappers for onigiri/kimpap that was designed the same way.
June 13th, 2013 at 5:39 am
I’ve seen nothing like this. Something like that could catch on over here, given the rising popularity of Asian foods, such as sushi, as a lunch item.
It’s an interesting thing for me to think about. I just spent the last two days going around different food factories.
June 13th, 2013 at 8:56 am
I would love to see stuff like this come over to other countries. I think it could be popular.
June 13th, 2013 at 6:41 am
They have them in Japan and if I could sing for you I’d sing AWESOME!!!!! in a high operatic voice just to express how wonderful these snacks are, I would. One of the things I miss about Japan. My favorite was the BBQ eel. So delicious. I was supposed to be commenting on your Friday Fictioneer post but this caught my eye.
June 13th, 2013 at 8:50 am
Yeah, I’m going to miss this kind of thing whenever I move back. Thanks for commenting.
June 13th, 2013 at 7:01 pm
At first glance, it looked like a colourful milk sweet. can never eat these, but it made an interesting read. Thanks:)
June 13th, 2013 at 11:52 pm
“These tend to be less healthy than the regular variety…”
I guess convenience store food is the same all over! 🙂
June 13th, 2013 at 11:52 pm
Yep. 🙂 They’re not bad, compared to most junk food, but I wouldn’t eat them three meals a day.
June 14th, 2013 at 2:51 pm
they look beautiful! and tasty too 🙂
if you come to Kolkata on book tour then bring one with you!
June 16th, 2013 at 9:24 pm
🙂 I’ll try.
June 28th, 2013 at 3:16 pm
the sliced rolls look very much like futomaki. Are they?
June 28th, 2013 at 5:37 pm
Yes, very similar. There are probably subtle differences between kimbap and futomaki but I’m not sure. There are tons of kinds of kimbap though.
October 9th, 2014 at 10:03 pm
[…] fifth-highest post, in terms of hits, is called How to Eat a Triangle Kimbap, and is about just that. In fact, a lot of my posts about Korea got consistently more hits than […]
February 1st, 2015 at 8:11 pm
Very interesting! Thank you for this explanation. 🙂
February 1st, 2015 at 9:30 pm
You’re welcome! Now if you ever see one, you’ll know what to do.
February 1st, 2015 at 9:37 pm
March 22nd, 2015 at 7:48 pm
I’ve never heard of these before. It doesn’t sound like something I would like. I’m surprised that the actual time is on the package, but with the type of ingrediants used, it certainly makes sense. Nice post.
March 22nd, 2015 at 7:56 pm
Thank you. My wife doesn’t like these much, but I love them. They’re a cheap, pretty nutritious snack when you’re hungry. They have different fillings inside but yes, if you don’t like seaweed, you probably wouldn’t enjoy one.
May 27th, 2015 at 5:57 pm
Thinking of starting a small business selling these in UK, think it’ll be well received?
I fell in love with these when i was in Seoul for 3 months.
It’s too tasty to not have it here since coming back to UK.
So i hunted down wholesalers who would sell the specially plastic-wrapped seaweed and have since made batches for colleagues.They love it too, but to start it as a business, i have my worries.
What do you reckon? 🙂
May 27th, 2015 at 11:42 pm
I think they would do well, especially if it was in a big urban area. These would be tough to sell, distribution-wise, since they have such a short life, but I think they’d be really popular, once they caught on. Good luck with it!
June 3rd, 2015 at 10:41 pm
I saw these at the convenience store. are they ok to grab n eat or must be microwaved?
June 6th, 2015 at 12:59 pm
No, you can just eat them straight out of the package. I’ve never even thought of microwaving them, although I’m sure they’d be good that way too. Kimbap is usually eaten cold.
November 9th, 2015 at 8:45 pm
I haven’t found anywhere to buy these ready made in Toronto yet (I’m sure there’s a place), but the local Galleria sells the plastic-wrapped kim sheets so I make my own at home ^.^ I like eating them when the rice is still warm.
November 22nd, 2015 at 5:09 pm
Yeah, that’s the best way to eat kimbap, when it’s fresh and still warm.
March 5th, 2018 at 1:14 am
[…] that’s a lot of links in one paragraph. Anyway, here’s a couple more. Triangle Kimbap, or Samgak-gimbap (Korean g’s are pronounced somewhere between a G and a K, as are Korean […]