If Spam’s not your thing, then this invention from my thirteen-year-old self might do it for you: kimbap with all the flavors of a classic cheeseburger. Though you need the cheese and burger for this to be a cheeseburger kimbap proper, the true key to that nostalgic taste exists, for me, within the mayochup (mayonnaise and ketchup), raw onion (trust me), and pickle (lots of it).
- In a medium bowl, stir together the rice and sesame oil, season with salt, and gently stir everything together with a plastic rice scooper or rubber spatula (to minimize sticking) until evenly combined. You’ll notice the grains start to glisten and separate thanks to the nutty sesame oil. Set the seasoned rice aside to cool if it’s not already.
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and garlic powder and season with salt and pepper. Fry, stirring occasionally, until browned, evenly caramelized and crispy at the edges, and no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off the fat and transfer the beef to a medium bowl. Add the onion, chopped pickles, mayonnaise, and ketchup to the beef and stir until well combined.
- Lay one sheet of kimbap gim, shiny-side up, on a cutting board or clean counter in front of you, a shorter side facing you. Spread ½ cup of the seasoned rice as evenly as you can across the entire surface area of the seaweed. (A plastic rice scooper is best for this—again, the sticking—but you can use any implement you like, keeping a small bowl of water nearby to wet your hands if things get sticky.)
- About one-third up from the bottom, lay two American cheese halves (they should be long rectangles) end to end over the rice, creating a straight orange line across the width of the surface. Spoon the beef laterally across the cheese, creating a straight, fairly contained line. Finally, place the quartered pickles, as many as you like, over the beef.
- Starting from the bottom, tightly roll the kimbap like a sleeping bag or cinnamon roll. Once rolled, use both hands to gently squeeze the roll even tighter together, compacting the rice, seaweed, hamburger filling, and American cheese into each other, fusing as one. With a very sharp knife, cut crosswise into ¾-inch-thick pieces. Repeat to make 1 more kimbap.
- These are at their best when eaten slightly warm, but also taste great at room temperature.
- Place the rice in a sieve and hold it under cold, running water, shaking it often, until the water runs clear.
- Place the rinsed rice and 1 cup water into a small pot and let the rice soak for 10 minutes.
- Set the pot over high heat and let the water come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and continue simmering for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let it sit, still covered, for 10 minutes to steam and get fluffy. (Don’t peek, as much of the cooking happens in this resting stage.) Fluff with a fork before serving