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Pork Belly Ssam Kimbap

Being at home is the greatest. It's funny to think that during high school and college, all I wanted to do was to be far far away from home. After living in different continents for more than 5 years, my family has upped and moved to LA and now I can be at home whenever I WANT (well... other than school days). Currently, I've been driving my mum up the wall asking her to cook this and cook that. I'm in such a frenzy when I'm at home, because I feel like I have to eat everything and do everything I can't while I'm in Richmond.

My poor mum haha. This time, I've enlisted her help to make some kimbap. I used to have the best lunches in secondary school and all my friends would coo over them. I owned this gigantic metal multi tier behemoth of a bento box, that would carry Japanese curry one day, spaghetti the next and even shrimp tempura for lunch. My "simpler" lunches consisted of different kinds of kimbap. I can't think of another woman who can whip out rolls and rolls of sushi for me and my twin AND our friends at lightning speed other than my mum.

As a kid, I wasn't very into my lunches, and always gave them away. It was more, "eat as little and as fast as I can and then playtime!". Now, I can literally eat everything and will eat anything (although I'm not sure if that's good for my waist line). I'm constantly begging my mum to make me food when I'm home :P

Anyway, if you're familiar with Korean BBQ, you'll have heard of sam gyup ssal (삼겹살 or Pork belly). And you'll have heard of taking a lettuce leaf, adding rice, barbecued meat, ssamjang (bean paste) and wrapping that up and stuffing the whole thing in your mouth. It is just glorious. If you haven't tried it, I suggest that you nab the closest Korean next to you and march down to the closest Korean BBQ restaurant! Also, have a bottle of soju while you're there ;) I think Ssam is a pretty well known concept now, since there are restaurants like Momofuku Ssam bar in NYC and Korean restaurants popping up in every corner. But, now you can make your own at home and in sushi form!

Pork Belly Ssam Kimbap
makes 4 servings

2 cups short grain rice
1 tsp sesame oil (plus more)
1 pinch salt
4 sheets sushi seaweed

1 carrot, julienned
3-4 long Korean chili peppers or jalapeños, seeded and julienned
1/2 head red leaf lettuce
8 perilla leaves
2 slabs pork belly
3 tbsp Ssam Jang aka. seasoned soy bean paste (can be bought in a Korean/Asian store or see below)
  1. Cook rice according to package. Allow to cool to room temp and then season with 1 tsp sesame oil and a pinch of salt
  2. Fry julienned carrots in a little bit of olive oil for about 2 minutes (still maintaining the crunch). Prepare and wash all other vegetables; jalapeños, lettuce, perilla leaves
  3. Season pork belly with a little salt and pepper. Fry both sides until fully cooked. Cut into 1cm strips
  4. On a sushi mat, spread a layer of seasoned rice onto sushi seaweed with wet hands. Add 2 leaves of lettuce, 2 perilla leaves, strips of pork belly, some carrots and jalapeños in a line, Spread a little ssam jang along the line too
  5. Roll all the ingredients tightly away from you with the mat so that the end closest to you reaches about half way up the sheet of seaweed. Continue to roll away from you. Repeat for the other 3 rolls
  6. Add sesame oil onto hands and spread thinly over the dry seaweed on the rolled sushi
  7. Slice kimbap with a super sharp knife and serve (best eaten on same day)
Make your own Ssam Jang
1 tbsp doenjang
pinch of sugar
1 tsp of Korean chili powder
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
  • If you already own doenjang (bean paste), then you can make ssamjang by mixing all the above together. 


  1. I love this so much!!! The combination of perilla leaves and pork belly is my favorite. How clever of you to put it in one roll. mmmm kimbap!

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  2. Thanks! :) I love perilla leaves in all my kimbaps! So refreshing!

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