In Seoul’s bustling Gwangjang market, ‘mayak gimbap’ alley is lined with stalls selling what translates as narcotic gimbap – so-called because this version is famously addictive. These rolls are much smaller than the traditional version, and often with just rice, pickled radish and carrot inside. The addictive special ingredient is the dipping sauce, a sweet and tangy mustard.

Makes 12 small seaweed rolls


3 sheets nori/gim (sushi seaweed)

75g spinach

1 carrot, peeled and julienned

100g Danmuji (Korean yellow pickled radish), cut into 1cm thick strips (alternatively could use sliced of gherkin/pickled cucumber)

Vegetable oil for frying


For the Spinach

2tsp sesame oil

1tsp sesame seeds

Sesame seeds for garnish

For the Rice

150g cooked sushi rice

2 tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp salt

For the Mustard Sauce

1Tb Korean soy sauce

1Tb apple or rice vinegar

2 tsp caster sugar

1½tsp English mustard

1 Tb roasted sesame seeds


  • For the mustard sauce, crush the sesame seeds in a mortar and then mix in the remaining ingredients. Pour into a dipping bowl and set to one side.
  • Mix the cooked rice with the sesame oil and salt and set to one side.
  • Place the spinach in a bowl and cover with boiling water to blanch. Leave for 2 minutes, then drain and squeeze out any excess. Mix with 2 tsp sesame oil and 1tsp sesame seeds then set to one side.
  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan with a pinch of salt and fry the julienned carrot for 1-2 minutes over a medium low heat until just cooked and slightly softened. Set to one side.
  • Cut a sheet of seaweed into quarters. Place them shiny side down and spread a thin, even layer of rice over the top.
  • Lay the prepared ingredients on top of the rice on the bottom third (closest to you) of the seaweed.
  • Lift the entire bottom edge with both hands and begin to roll the seaweed and filling away from you, tucking in the filling at the side with your fingers.
  • Apply firm pressure over the roll to close everything in tightly. Then, continue to roll again, putting pressure evenly over the roll using both hands.
  • Rub or brush the roll with a little bit of sesame oil for extra flavour and shine. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top for garnish.
  • Serve with the mustard dipping sauce.

Recipe source: Da-Hae West is a Korean cookery teacher, consultant and author of K-Food. Born in Busan, South Korea, Da-Hae moved to England when she was three. Da-Hae is an authority on Korean food, having worked behind the scenes on TV shows Gizzi Erskine’s Seoul Food and John Torode’s Korean Food Tour, as well as personally appearing on the BBC’s One Show and The Travel Channel’s Footie Shorts

Illustration source: @thibaudherem