There are few dishes that are as sentimental to me as kimbap. It’s the Korean equivalent to a sandwich — perfect for field trips and picnics, endlessly riffable to whatever’s in your fridge, and absolutely delicious.

But I wasn’t always such an outward kimbap enthusiast. I remember sitting in the cafeteria in elementary school, peeking under the table to see what my mom had packed me for lunch, and feeling pangs of shame and guilt when I saw the neatly boxed tupperware of kimbap. I was starving but felt too embarrassed to eat it, silently wishing she had packed me a pizza lunchable or turkey sandwich instead. Sometimes I’d sit there and sneak one roll at a time into my mouth while hiding the lunch box in my lap. Other times, I wouldn’t eat at all, pretending I wasn’t hungry. How I wish I could speak to that little girl! And what would I say if I could?

I’d tell her that there are things about ourselves that we can change — our clothes, our hair, our friends. But there are things about ourselves that are unchangeable, immutable, deeply precious. So this AAPI Heritage Month, I recalled some of these memories and redeemed them by telling a new story.

For the majority of my life, I spent my days wishing I was somebody else. But for the first time in my 20s and now much more confidently in my 30s, having walked a long and winding road, I feel like I finally am the woman I’d like to become. And that confession isn’t possible without celebrating my Korean identity and remembering that nobody can be me quite like I can. And I hope you walk away feeling like you don’t have to pretend to be anybody else because nobody can be you.

So to celebrate, here’s a fun and gorgeous reimagination of my childhood lunchbox redeemed. Whenever I (proudly) eat kimbap today, I always wish there were more than two “end parts” where the colorful fillings spill out on both sides of the roll. So I hope you enjoy my recipe for kimbap end rolls with edible flowers and perilla leaves. They’re almost too pretty to eat.

Miij, @fruitandsup


Serves 2
    Kimbap fillings:
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 bunch flowering bok choy (or spinach with their stems)
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 1 bunch perilla leaves
  • 6 sticks of imitation crab about 6” long
  • 6 pieces of danmuji, Korean yellow pickled radish, about 6” long
  • Edible flowers like chives, cilantro, or borage

  • Seasoned rice and seaweed:
  • 1½ cups of cooked short grain rice
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Salt
  • 2 sheets of seaweed
Cookware Used
Little Sheet Duo
Two Nonstick Quarter-Sheet Pans
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Stir Crazy
3-Piece Nested Mixing Bowl Set
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Deep Cut
10-Inch Stainless-Steel Sauté Pan
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Step 1. Crack eggs into a small bowl, season with a pinch of salt, and whisk to combine. Heat a glug of olive oil in Deep Cut over medium heat. Cook eggs in a thin layer and cook gently until eggs set, about 3 minutes. Flip omelette and cook for another minute. Remove egg from pan onto cutting board, roll up, and slice into ribbons. Set aside on a tray.

Step 2. Slice carrots into long, thin rods. Stir fry with olive oil and a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. Set aside. Stir fry bok choy in the same way. Set aside. Assemble remaining kimbap fillings on the tray as well.

Step 3. In Stir Crazy, combine warm cooked rice, pinch of salt, and sesame oil. Lay seaweed sheet shiny side down and cover with a scoop of rice, spreading into a thin layer to the edges. With scissors, cut vertically into thirds.

Step 4. Starting with the perilla leaves, lay down all kimbap fillings on the bottom 1/3 of the seaweed rice strip. Roll tightly and use water or a few rice kernels to seal the edge. Let the rolls rest on the seam.

Step 5. Brush rolls with sesame oil for a glossy finish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cut rolls in half and serve upright. Enjoy!