Are sushi and kimbab the same?
Although Japanese sushi and Korean kimbab look similar at first, there are a few difference in the ingredients and method used to make the two rice rolls.
Their shape is similar, as they both consist of white rice (sushi rice) wrapped in seaweed and filled with various ingredients.
The first difference between sushi and kimbab is in the rice seasoning. After steaming and cooling the sushi rice, Japanese sushi calls for the use of rice vinegar, while Kimbab makes use of sesame oil.
The second difference is in the "filling" used in the two Asian rice rolls. Sushi is famous for its delicate raw fish that melts in our mouths. Kimbab instead uses a combination of pickled vegetables, grilled meat and fish, cheese, or even canned fish like tuna. The result is a more accessible snack that bursts with energizing and diverse flavours.
Sushi vs Kimbab: which one is healthier?
You may be wondering which one is the healthier snack between kimbab and sushi. Because both rice rolls come in many variations, it would be hard to make a general comparison. To answer this burning question, we will first look at the ingredients that form the base for both and then compare the ingredients used in traditional sushi maki against the most-common kimbab.
As we said above, both dishes use seaweed and white rice but use different seasoning.
White rice is not the healthiest type of rice. It is still a healthy food and has many good uses in diets, but that snowy appearance is the result of heavy processing which stripped the rice of most fibres, vitamins and minerals. Brown rice would be the better choice for healthier sushi and kimbab. But as both recipes use sticky white rice, so far it's a draw: Sushi 1 - Kimbab 1.
Contrary to white rice, dry seaweed is rich in nutrients. Both Korean and Sushi rolls use it, although the Korean nori is called gim and is seasoned with sesame oil. Nori has lots of antioxidants and is rich in iodine, which plays a critical role in the proper functioning of the thyroid. Because the Korean nori has added sesame oil, which is rich in healthy fats, gim takes the lead over plain nori. Sushi 1 - Kimbab 2.
The next question to address is: is it healthier to season rice with sesame oil or rice vinegar?
Sesame oil is rich with heart-healthy fats, loaded with powerful antioxidants sesamol and sesaminol, which research shows can protect heart cells from damage . Moreover, early research on sesame oil found that it has strong anti-inflammatory properties .
Rice vinegar is a flavourful seasoning with almost zero carbs and, like other kinds of vinegar, it can help reduce blood sugar levels .
Overall, it seems sesame oil is more impressive than rice vinegar, but this may boil down to your diet. Are you after healthy fats? Sesame oil wins. Or do you prefer a seasoning with zero carbs for your weight-loss diet? Then go for rice vinegar. Let's call it a draw on this one: Sushi 2 - Kimbab 3.
If we don't take rice roll fillings into account, Kimbab is healthier than sushi because it boasts more nutrients and healthy fats.
But what about rice rolls with filling? Let's compare a salmon avocado maki with a tuna kimbab.
Salmon and avocado are kings in a wholesome diet. Together they deliver a potent mix of omega-3 fats, vitamins, and proteins: it's tough to beat them.
The ingredients used in tuna kimbab are canned tuna, pickled radish, other veggies like carrots and spinach, and mayo.
As you can see, this classic kimbab recipe is more complicated. Although the ingredients therein have many health benefits (except for mayo), we feel they can't win against the simplicity and wholesomeness of salmon and avocado. So classic maki wins against traditional kimbab: Sushi 3 - Kimbab 3.
To conclude, we found that all else being equal - that is, if we were to use the same fillings for both sushi and kimbab - the Korean rice roll is healthier than sushi because it has more healthy fats and nutrients. But traditional sushi rolls make up for this with more wholesome fillings.
If you are after a healthy Korean rice roll, look no further than our vegan kimbab recipe above.
How long can I keep Korean "sushi" in the fridge?
Because Kimbab uses cooked ingredients, it keeps longer in the fridge compared to sushi made with raw fish. Moreover, our kimbab recipe above uses only vegetables, which have a longer shelf-life than animal products once cooked.
You can store excess vegan Korean rice rolls in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. However, the longer you keep them in the fridge, the dryer the rice will get. Therefore, if you want to prepare kimbap in advance, we recommend you refrigerate the unsliced nori roll well wrapped and then only cut the rice rolls when you are ready to eat them.
To eat, just take out of the fridge and enjoy them cold. Do not reheat the rolls in microwave, as the rice and seaweed will get soggy.
Is kimbab good for weight loss?
As our recipe includes little sesame oil and grilled vegetables, one kimbap rice roll has only 50 calories, meaning you can enjoy one or two of these snacks without compromising your weight loss goals.
You can also make a light meal out of it by adding a side a salad of leafy greens and nuts. As a serving, we suggest four sushi pieces which provide 200 calories and only 11% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) for carbohydrates and 7% of your RDI for fats.
By making these Korean rice rolls at home from scratch, you'll have complete control over the type and amount of ingredients and thus control over the calories.
Steamed white rice is a much healthier way of cooking rice compared to fried rice, making a better choice over other dishes. If you really want to go the extra mile, then you can swap white rice with other alternatives like quinoa, bulgur wheat, or brown rice for a healthier nutritional profile. Carrots, cucumber, and radishes are low-carb vegetables, while tempeh and nori are incredibly nutritious ingredients as they provide fibres, proteins, and precious minerals.
As with everything in life, moderation is key. So, as long as you're meeting your calorie goals, you can savour one or two of these bite-sized treats without guilt.