Spicy Tuna Gimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Roll)

Difficulty Easy

Make the ultimate Korean snack or light meal: Spicy Tuna Gimbap or Kimbap! A nori-wrapped rice roll that’s filled with creamy tuna mayo, cucumber, and perilla leaves. A great way to enjoy humble, pantry-friendly, canned tuna. Spicy canned tuna makes this extra special!

What is Spicy Tuna Gimbap?

Spicy Tuna Gimbap, also known as Seaweed Rice Roll, is a popular Korean snack, appetizer, or light meal. In this case, the main ingredient — canned spicy tuna — is mixed with mayonnaise for a creamy and flavorful filling.

There are many different varieties of Gimbap. But Spicy Tuna Gimbap is so delicious and easy. Look for Korean spicy canned tuna at the Asian market. Or, make your own version with the addition of sriracha.

A combination of fresh, crunchy cucumber and herbal perilla leaves (or lettuce, if you don’t have it), make for an unbelievably flavorful and unique flavor profile.

Also spelled Kimbap, it literally translates as “Seaweed Rice.” Widely considered a complete meal in one roll, Gimbap has everything you need: rice, nori, and various fillings such as vegetables or meat. It’s also convenient for lunch boxes, picnics, and eating on-the-go.

What kind of canned tuna should I use?

Is Gimbap the same thing as Sushi?

Some people refer to Gimbap as Korean sushi. But Gimbap is NOT sushi. Although they are both rice rolls wrapped in Nori, the flavor profile is completely different.

  • Gimbap (or Kimbap) is a Korean food item. The rice is seasoned with sesame oil. The fillings often contain a colorful assortment of different vegetables and proteins, like spinach, carrots, bulgogi, and burdock root. Often, Kimbap also includes a pickled element like Dan Muji (pickled yellow radish).
  • Sushi is a Japanese food item. The rice is seasoned with vinegar and sugar. The fillings contain raw fish such as tuna and salmon. And maybe avocado, cucumber, and fish roe. Sushi is also dipped into soy sauce and wasabi.


  • Short Grain Rice. Short grain rice contains more starch than long grain rice. Also called sushi rice, it clings and sticks together. The sticky grains make it easier for making Gimbap Long grain rice is too fluffy and will fall apart when making Gimbap.
  • Sesame Oil + Sesame Seeds. To season the rice. Gimbap is also brushed with sesame oil for shine and flavor.
  • Canned Tuna. I recommend spicy Korean tuna fish made by Dong Wong. So much flavor! Just enough spice! If you don’t have access to Spicy Tuna, use regular canned tuna and sriracha.
  • Mayo. Mayo binds the tuna together and adds tons of flavor. I use Kewpie, which is a Japanese mayo. It’s sweet, eggy, and very rich. Regular mayo also works, FYI.
  • Seaweed Sheets or Nori/Gim. Full-size seaweed sheets (also called Nori or Gim) can be found at the Asian Grocery store. There are two kinds: unseasoned Japanese Nori and seasoned Korean Gim. Honestly, they are both delicious. Use the one that’s most convenient to purchase. They store for a long time in the pantry, so it’s easy to keep on hand.
  • Cucumber. Adds lots of crunch and freshness. Cut into long, tiny strips for maximum crunch! (Versus one big cucumber log.)
  • Kkaennip (Perilla leaves). Adds earthy, herby freshness. SO good with tuna. Use green leaf lettuce if you don’t have it.


  • Sriracha + Kewpie drizzle. Optional garnish. Adds lots of flavor.
  • Bonito flakes. Optional garnish. Adds lots of smoky flavor.


  1. Season rice. In a large shallow bowl, add rice. Add sesame oil, salt, and sesame seeds on top. Mix with rice spatula or hands covered with food service gloves.
  2. Prep fillings. Drain tuna and mix together with sriracha. Chop cucumbers. Wash and dry the perilla leaves.
  3. Make Gimbap. Place seaweed sheet, flat side down. Add rice. Add rice evenly and spread to corners, leaving a 2-inch border at the top.
  4. Add fillings. Add Kkaennip (perilla leaves) or lettuce. Add tuna mixture. Add cucumbers.
  5. Roll Gimbap. Picking up the bottom end, roll tightly into a log. Smear a little rice at the edge so it will stick.
  6. Brush with sesame oil. Slice and enjoy!
  7. Optional: The Spicy Tuna filling will bleed into the rice. There’s just no way to avoid it. Eat as is OR drizzle extra Kewpie (Japanese mayo), sriracha, and a generous handful of Bonito flakes to cover. Enjoy!

PRO Tips:

  • Use a bamboo mat. Although optional, it makes rolling easier.
  • Use food service gloves. Makes spreading the rice on the nori easier. Also, easier to roll as the gloves work like non-stick surfaces.
  • Add rice on the edges. To seal the gimbap at the edge. Smear a little rice on the clean edge before rolling.
  • Drain tuna. As best as you can! Makes it easier to roll and it won’t bleed as much onto the rice.

Serve with:

Tuna Gimbap is very good on its own as an easy snack, appetizer, or light meal. I like to serve with Homemade Miso Soup to round out the meal.

Or, serve alongside Cheese Tteokbokki or Carbonara Tteokbokki. For a variety of textures, Mochiko Fried Chicken or Korean Fried Chicken is also tasty.


How do I store Gimbap?

Gimbap is best eaten the day it’s made, within 4-6 hours. If stored in the fridge, the rice will harden.

Can I make this non-spicy?

Yes, definitely! I make non-spicy Tuna Gimbap for my kids. Just use regular canned tuna instead of spicy Korean tuna. And don’t add the sriracha drizzle.

More Easy Recipes:

gimbap on platter, photographed on the side with drizzles of mayo

Spicy Tuna Gimbap

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Make the ultimate Korean snack or light meal: Spicy Tuna Gimbap or Kimbap! A nori-wrapped rice roll that's made filled with crea,u tuna mayo, cucumber, and perilla leaves. A great way to enjoy humble, pantry-friendly, canned tuna. Drizzle with kewpie mayo and sriracha for even more flavor. A simple and easy weeknight meal.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 Rolls
Calories 616 kcal


  • Bamboo Mat (optional)
  • large, shallow bowl


  • 4 Nori Sheets
  • 1 cucumber
  • 8-12 Kkaennip (Perilla) leaves (red or green leaf lettuce is a good substitute)


  • 3 cups (uncooked) short grain rice
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil


  • 3 (5.29oz/150g) cans spicy Korean tuna (I use Dong Won Hot Pepper Tuna)
  • 3 Tbsp Mayo (I use Kewpie Mayo)
  • *1-2 Tbsp sriracha (if you don't have access to spicy tuna)


  • Cook + season rice. In a rice cooker, cook short grain rice according to package directions. When the rice is fully cooked, transfer to a large bowl. Add salt, sesame oil, and sesame seeds and mix well. Cool slightly.
  • Prep the fillings. Add drained, canned spicy tuna to a medium bowl. Add mayo and mix until well combined with a fork. Roughly divide the tuna mixture into 4 equal portions. Julienne cucumber into thin strips, the same length as the short side of the seaweed sheets. Roughly divide cucumber into 4 equal portions. Wash and dry the perilla leaves.
  • Make Gimbap. Lay out one seaweed sheet, flat side down. Add 1 cup of (warm) rice and spread evenly to the edges, making sure to leave a 2-inch border at the top.
  • Add fillings. Add kkaennip or lettuce leaves, making sure the leaves overlap. Add tuna mixture and cucumbers. (If you divide the portions in 4 equal portions beforehand, each roll will be sure to have equal amounts of filling.)
  • Roll. Picking up the bottom end, roll tightly into a log. Use the bamboo mat (optional) to press into a cylindrical shape. Press a few grains of rice on the border to "glue" the end of the seaweed sheet to the rest of the roll.
  • Coat with sesame oil. Using a silicone pastry brush or your hands (with food service gloves), brush sesame oil all over. Repeat for all 4 rolls.
  • Slice Gimbap. On a cuting board, slice the Korean Rice Roll into 1/2-inch thick slices. Spread onto a platter, cut side up.
  • Optional. The spicy sauce will bleed into the rice. There's just no way to avoid it. Eat as is OR drizzle extra Kewpie (Japanese mayo), sriracha, and a generous handful of Bonito flakes to cover. Enjoy!


*Feel free to use regular canned tuna for a non-spicy version.


Calories: 616kcalCarbohydrates: 116gProtein: 11gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 748mgPotassium: 235mgFiber: 5gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 197IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Gimbap, Spicy, Tuna
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
30 minutes, All Recipes, Appetizer, Game Day Food, Korean, Rice, Seafood, Side, Snacks, Weeknight Meals


  1. This is like Korean kimbap fused with Japanese okonomiyaki. Love that idea! Your food styling is so beautiful.

  2. All this recipees looks amazing!! Thanks, Lis!

  3. 5 stars
    Oh, looks so good !~♡

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