Bibimbap, a trip to South Korea

bibimbap chef in disguise

For Nov and Dec the daring cooks were given a chance to revisit old challenges. We can choose any recipe from the daring cooks archive. I LOVE catch up months because they give me a chance to try some of the challenges that I have missed.

As I was going through the archives, I came across the bibimbap challenge. knowing that it was hosted by the wonderfully talented Renata, I knew I had to give it a go.

What is Bibimbap?

Bibimbap, means mixed rice (Bibim = mixed; Bap = rice). It is a South Korean dish, traditionally served in a bowl,where a bed of hot steamed rice is topped with julienned sauteed (or steamed, or boiled) vegetables of different colors.You can also add beef, chicken or seafood if you like.

The signature look of Bibimbap comes from the careful arrangement of the vegetables on top of the rice. They almost look like a colorful pinwheel. Bibimbap is usually served with an egg. The egg can be fried (sunny side up) or even raw and in this case it is placed in the center of the pinwheel. Another option would be to make the egg into omelette then cut it into strips and arrange those with the vegetables.

bibimbap

What I really loved about Bibimbap is that it is a colorful, eye-pleasing dish.The colors are arranged to form a harmonic balance. For example, similar color vegetables are arranged opposite to each other.

Despite all the care put into preparing and serving the dish, when it is time to eat, the vegetables and rice are mixed thoroughly to ensure that you get a bit of everything in every bite. That may make Bibimbap more tasty but it definitely makes you feel like all the effort you put into the decoration was in vain 🙂

The sauce

Bibimbap is usually a spicy dish. Korean cuisine is spicy… VERY spicy! The heat in  Bibimbap comes from the sauce. The dish is usually served with a thick sauce made with Korean red pepper (capsicum) paste called Gochujang. Gochujang can be easily found in Asian markets.

As you may already know, I can’t handle the heat, so I took Renata’s advice and replaced the red pepper paste with soy sauce. Another option would be to omit it all together or substitute  fermented bean paste (similar to Japanese miso) for the red pepper sauce. You may also use any other Asian-style sauce of your liking.

One of the variations of Bibimbap  is called Dolsot Bibimbap. Dolsot means “stone pot”. The Bibimbap is assembled in individual serving-sized stone pots that are previously coated with a thin layer of sesame oil. After that, the pot is heated on the stove top until it sizzles and makes a thin layer of crunchy rice in the bottom. The sesame oil is what gives this dish its unique taste. It is then served piping hot, and when all ingredients are mixed together, the heat of the stone pot will cook the egg through.

Alternatively, a cast iron skillet works well as a substitute for the stone pot. If you don’t have a stone pot nor a cast iron skillet, but still want to try Dolsot Bibimbap, you can try using a common non-stick skillet, the only difference is that it won’t retain the heat for so long.

BIBIMBAP 

Servings: 3~4 
Ingredients

2 cups (approximately, use according to your taste) Korean style steamed rice (recipe below).

Vegetables:
1/2 cup each of your chosen vegetables (suggestions and preparation methods below).

For the meat: 
1/2 cup (120 ml) (2½ oz) (75 gm) beef, or chicken; ground (minced) or cut into fine strips
1 teaspoon (5 ml) soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
1 pinch of salt and pepper

Red pepper sauce: 
3 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (gochujang) (you can use 1 tablespoon of soy sauce instead)
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, minced

For assembling: 
Sesame oil
Egg(s), 1 per serving (optional)

Directions:

 
Start by marinating the meat:

Mix all the marinade ingredients with the meat and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

Sautée the veggies (instructions below), then use the same pan to sautée the meat over high heat until
it is cooked through.

Vegetables suggested and how to prepare them:

ingredients

Mung bean sprouts (moyashi) and spinach leaves:
Boil some water in a sauce pan and add the mung bean sprouts.

As soon as the water boils again, drain the sprouts and immediately immerse them in cold water for a few minutes to stop cooking.

Drain again.

Season with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil.

Use the same process with the spinach.

Onions, carrots, zucchini, fresh mushrooms, and green onions:
Sautée the julienned vegetables very briefly (they should remain crunchy), one at a time, in a pan that has been lightly greased with sesame oil, over medium high heat.

Add a pinch of salt.

Set aside separately.

Dried seaweed:
Cut the seaweed into thin strips using kitchen scissors. Use as is.

Lettuce and cucumbers:
These are used raw, julienned.

The vegetables can be substituted according to seasonal availability or your preference. Try to use a colorful selection of vegetables to make your dish more appealing and healthier. Vegetarians may omit the meat or use grilled tofu as a substitute.

Eggs (optional):
A fried egg is often used to top off the Bibimbap.

Another option for using the egg is to lightly mix it with a pinch of salt and cook in a pan as a crepe.Then, cut it into strips.

omlette

omlette cut into strips

For Dolsot Bibimbap (cooked in a stone pot), put a raw egg yolk in the center of the dish, on top of everything. The heat of the pan will cook the yolk through when you mix everything at the time of eating.

For the sauce:
Combine all ingredients and set aside. This sauce is served separately, according to each one’s taste. If you don’t like spicy food, you can omit this sauce and use soy sauce or fermented soy bean paste (miso) instead.

bibimbap prep

Assembling the dish:
For Dolsot Bibimbap, brush some sesame oil in the bottom of the stone pot, cast iron skillet or a non stick pan.

Make a “bed” of steamed rice. Amount is up to you, usually ½ to 1 cup per serving.

Arrange the prepared vegetables on top of the rice, side by side, around the pot

If you want to be authentic, arrange similar colors opposite to each other.

The meat can go in the middle or along with the vegetables.

Finally, place the fried egg, or raw egg yolk (if using) in the middle carefully so that the yolk doesn’t break.

Heat the pot on the stove top over medium heat without a lid.

In approximately 5 minutes, it will start to sizzle. It will take about 10 minutes total, but depending on your stove it may take more or less time. So keep an eye on it, you want the rice at the bottom to form a thin, crunchy layer, but you don’t want it to burn!

For regular Bibimbap, arrange the ingredients (that should be hot) in individual bowls and top off with a fried egg (optional). Omit the sesame oil in the bottom and the heating on the stove top. Serve.

Bibimbap is traditionally eaten with a spoon. Add some sauce to the bowl, mix all components thoroughly and enjoy!

bibimbap

Recipe 2:

KOREAN STYLE STEAMED RICE
Servings: 3~4

Ingredients:
The rice-water proportion is 1 : 1.2 (by volume):

1 cup (240 ml) (7¾ oz) (220 gm) Korean rice (short grain rice, same used for making Japanese Sushi)
1¼ cup (300 ml) water

This amount will yield about 2 cups cooked rice which should be enough for the amount of ingredients in the Bibimbap recipe provided here. Feel free to use more, or less, according to your taste.

Directions:

Step 1: Rinse the rice
Measure the rice and place it in a bowl. Fill the bowl with water and make a swirling movement with your hand. Don’t scrub the rice.

Strain the water and repeat this process 3 more times. The last water won’t be crystal clear, but that’s the way it is supposed to be.

Strain the water well and immediately place the rice back into the bowl.

Step 2: Soak
Measure the water that will be used for cooking, and pour it over the rice. Let it soak for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Cook
After the soaking time, transfer rice and water to a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and immediately turn down the heat to the minimum possible. Cover and simmer gently until all the water has evaporated. Watch closely, mine took only 5 minutes!

Step 4: Rest
Turn off the heat and let it sit for additional 15 minutes, covered, to finish cooking.

Stir the rice so that the moisture is evenly distributed.

Bibimbap rice

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Bibimbap is best made fresh. It isn’t suitable for freezing. Rice and vegetables can be prepared ahead (maximum of 24 hours) and kept in the refrigerator in airtight containers, but will have to be reheated before assembly. Dolsot Bibimbap is an exception, it can be assembled with refrigerated made-ahead ingredients that will be heated through on the stove top, using the stone pot.

Blog checking lines

 The July Daring Cooks’ Challenge took us to Korea, where Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado taught us to make bibimbap. This colorful rice dish can be customized to meet any taste, and is as much fun to eat as it is to say!

kids!
A final note would be to keep an eye for little hands 🙂
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