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Nov 15, 2007 03:11 PM

Korean sushi -- What's the difference?

Is it made differently than the Japanese variety? Is it served or eaten differently? What's the story?

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  1. Hmm the main difference that I notice is that it is usually eaten sashimi style, with a hot red pepper paste + vinegar, sugar, and garlic mixture rather than soy sauce.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jennp

      Sashimi and sushi are seperate, distinct dishes.

      1. re: jennp

        There's also hwe dup bap which is sort of the Korean version of chirashi sushi. Unlike chirashi, it comes with a salad-like assortment of greens and a spicy sauce to be mixed with the rice.

        In terms of nigiri, sushi at Korean-owned establishments tends to have much larger cuts of fish. Also, I have heard that Koreans like to eat their raw tuna while it is still frozen.

      2. I have noticed some differences: Often, the rice tastes unseasoned. Often, the pieces of sushi are topped by the chef with drizzles of spicy sauce.

        1. I have never had korean sushi....I'm sure it's just a korean interpretation of the japanese dish.

          However korean sashimi or hwe is it's own separate thing. In my opinion I think the slices of fish are much thicker than japanese sashimi (but I've heard the opposite). Koreans also serve the fish with chojang (gochujang, sugar, and a little vinegar), and sometimes wrap it in lettuce, korean perilla leaf or with slices of raw garlic.

          4 Replies
          1. re: bitsubeats

            A Korean acquaintance of mine insisted it was the other way around. Like the game of go, raw fish and rice in the form of hae dop bop and other dishes was originally Korean, and adopted into what we now think of as sushi by the Japanese occupiers.

            I have no idea if it's true or not. Just an amusing twist on the tale.

            1. re: Loren3

              Not sure if that's true. I heard that the origination of sushi is actually from China.

              1. re: Loren3

                Your friend is delusional. Koreans have a recent habit of trying to claim Chinese and Japanese things as their own in order to escalate their relevance on the global stage.

                Sushi as we know it is undeniably of Japanese origin. I'm sure a Korean has eaten a piece of raw fish before as well but not like the sushi and sashimi the world knows. Chinese have a few raw fish dishes too, but no one claims Sushi is Chinese.

                Also, the game Go is also undeniably of Chinese origin.

            2. I had Korean sashimi (Hwe) in Korea on several occasions, and I agree with the comments already posted. I also noticed that Koreans have a tendancy to like fish ir seafood with texture - or as my husband puts it, they like "chewy" fish and food. So when you have raw skate, they leave in the cartilage. Squid is popular because it is chewy. The fish we had was not the buttery smooth texture of toro, but instead had a firmness and resistance when you took a bite. (I have no idea what kind of fish it was). As for the raw seafood I had on a beach on Jeju Island, one was a small type of abalone (chewy) and the other creatures were only recognizable as creatures that I had seen in aquariums. All were chewy. And accompanied by a piece of raw garlic and chile sauce. Very different than Japanese sashimi!

              As for rolls, Korean rolls (or kimbab) are much more robust than Japanese rolls. The ingredients are usually fully cooked, the rice is either unseasoned, or seasoned with sesame oil/seeds. The ingredients will include all sorts of things like pickled daikon, fried egg, seasoned meat, sauteed julienned vegetables such as carrrots, mushrooms, fish cakes. Very hearty fare. We take large quantities of this stuff on picnics and hikes (our version of sandwiches). It is tasty, but very different than Japanese maki.

              1. I think the original poster is talking about kimbap, which looks very much like sushi and is frequently found next to sushi on steamtables in NYC. Unlike sushi, however, the rice in kimbap isn't vinegared; it's lightly seasoned with perilla and sesame oils. Fillings usually include pickled daikon, carrots, spinach and a main filling of surimi, beef, kimchi or spam -- unlike sushi, no raw fish. Novices often eat kimbap with wasabi and pickled ginger, thinking it's the same as sushi, but as far as I can tell, it's meant to be eaten unadorned.

                17 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  the rice is flavoured with sesame oil? Usually the outside of the kimbap is rubbed with the oil. It is also great to rub the knife with sesame oil while cutting the kimbap, so rice doesn't stick to the knife.

                  kimbap is also meant to be eaten as a snack and not really at a main meal. Is sushi considered a main meal or a snack?

                  1. re: bitsubeats

                    We always season the rice with sesame oil in the kim bop I and my wife make. We also add a touch of salt and sometimes sesame seed. Haven't tried the perilla (Korean wild sesame) yet.
                    Our standard fillings include strips of fishcake (odaeng) and crab along with the daikon, spinach, and steamed carrot.
                    For myself I like to use strips of grilled chicken, or spicy pork, or bulgogi, or...well just about any thing.

                    1. re: hannaone

                      when you make kimbap next time, try laying a few ggaenip leaves down on the seaweed before you add the rice and goodies. My mom did this for me in the summer time and I loved it.

                      sometimes I also like to add sauteed gobo

                      1. re: bitsubeats

                        I will try that.
                        My current kick is a grilled chicken breast salad wrap. Very thin layer of rice with strips of grilled chicken breast, chopped lettuce, fresh shredded daikon, cucumber strip, steamed carrot, egg strip, diced tomato, and a sesame salad dressing that my wife makes.

                        1. re: bitsubeats

                          Question! I know what gaenip is but what is the name of the plant in English, say if I wanted to buy some seeds to plant?

                          1. re: ohmyyum

                            Perilla...sometimes they're used as garnish for japanese sushi/sashimi but the korean variety tastes slightly different - I would say it's spicier and less minty. They're sturdy plants and are easy to grow. If you're keen, you can grow them until they flower - the flowers will eventually fall off and leave clusters of fresh soft seeds. You can chop off the clusters and lightly fry them in a thin flour/egg batter or chop them up and incorporate into a scallion pancake mix. Sometimes people like to let the seeds mature until the plant dies and use them to replant the following season.

                            1. re: hyunnee

                              Thank you so much for the detailed response! I love "perilla" that's been marinated in soy sauce with steaming hot, white, Korean sticky rice.

                        2. re: hannaone

                          There's a Korean market near my house that makes kimbap on Fridays. If they haven't run out by the time i'm off work, I buy a bunch of it. Theirs is generally vegetarian, sometimes some egg, once I saw something that looked like little bits of Spam-type meat, but usually, because they're not refrigerated, I'm guessing, they're vegetarian. And they're wonderful, even though I generally dislike the taste of sesame oil

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            Kimbab typically has some form of ham type product in it which is probably what you identified as spam. And usually some fish cake also.

                            1. re: joonjoon

                              Not always. Sometimes when I've gotten them in the RoK they just have pickled vegetables and sesame seeds on top.

                              The other day, from Assi Plaza in Flushing, NY, the kimbap had squid.

                              As for a version in Yangzhou, China ( - though they called it sushi - I don't even want to know what it had. It was mostly mayonnaise and a variety of representatives from Crayola.

                              1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                That's...why I said "typically" and "usually"..

                                Anyway, you can stuff whatever you want into your kimbap. I like making mine with pulled pork and mayo (in addition to the usual stuff)

                                1. re: joonjoon

                                  Well, you can do whatever you want when preparing food, but I'd "hardly" call one laden with pulled pork "kimbap."

                                  1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                    Why does pulled pork detract from the kimbapness? Anything flies with kimbap as long as it's got kim (seaweed) and bap (rice).

                                    If I put bulgogi in a taco is that not a taco any more?

                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      Are you a Kogi groupie or something?

                                      When I find a pulled pork sample of kimbap in the RoK, I might reconsider.

                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                        Kimbap can include just about anything.
                                        There is a Korean version of slow cooked shredded pork called daegi jangjorim (of course it is simmered or braised in a soy sauce broth).
                                        This shredded or Korean pulled pork (beef also) is sometimes used in kimbap.


                                        1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                          No I'm not a Kogi groupie. I generally dislike Korean tacos, but that doesn't make them not tacos.

                                          Holy crap dude, this is like level 99 pedantry you're pulling here. What exactly are you bringing to this conversation? That you think you know something about kimbap because you've eaten them in Korea? I'm Korean. I grew up in Korea. I spent the first 15 years of my life there and I've eaten all manners of kimbap. I can pretty much guarantee you that if you tried to tell a Korean that a Kimbap with pulled pork, yellow pickled radish, spinach, carrot, fish cake and egg (which is what I described above) is not kimbap they would think you're insane. It's like saying a hot dog is not a hot dog if it has kimchi in it instead of sauerkraut. Or if a burger has kimchi instead of pickles.

                                          There's nothing about pulled pork that detracts from the "kimbap-ness" of kimbap because in the grand scheme of things the meat component is only like 1/10th of what makes a kimbap. The most common ingredients are things the ones I mentioned above and people play with the components all the time. Things like cheese are pretty common also. If it has seaweed and rice, it's fucking kimbap.

                                          I hope you reconsider.

                                          Actually, I don't give two shits because it doesn't change the fact that you're making useless arguments and you have no idea what you're talking about.

                                          Good day.

                            2. re: hannaone

                              although i love perilla leaves in kimbap (particularly the seasoned ones), i think jungmann was referring to using Deulgireum (perilla seed oil) instead of chamgireum (roasted sesame oil).
                              kimbap is so flexible and just like Budae chigae (korean army soup), anything goes!