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!
Bibimbap (비빔밥), which literally means “mixed rice”, is one of Korea’s most famous dishes and it is made up of steamed rice topped with stir fried vegetables, meat and a fried (or raw) egg and everything gets mixed together just before eating. It is traditionally served in individual sized bowls and the way the toppings are arranged in a chromatic circle make for a spectacular view. The trick behind a beautifully composed bibimbap is to arrange similar coloured ingredients opposite to each other, so as to create an immediate visual impact. An easy dish that looks like a masterpiece! I like the sound (and taste!) of that!
Bibimbap is usually a spicy dish as it is served with a sauce made with a Korean red pepper/capsicum paste called Gochujang (고추장). You can definitely adjust the spice level to your liking.
A variation of the classic bibimbap is Dolsot Bibimbap. In this case, the dish is assembled in individual sized stone pots coated with a bit of sesame oil. After that, the pot is heated on the stove top until it sizzles and makes a thin layer of crunchy rice at the bottom.
I had never eaten bibimbap before this challenge, but I live in a suburb with a huge Korean community, in fact, my next door neighbours are Korean! So, I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity for me to try and cook some Korean food! I also knew that, for once, finding the right ingredients would be easy, as I am surrounded by amazing Korean shops! Even though I did not find a dolsot (stone pot), I did find a beautiful ttukbaegi pot that worked perfectly well for this dish. And, as I had thought, I easily managed to find all the ingredients I needed, also thanks to my friend Victoria who gave me the names in Korean. I will leave you to it… Bibimbap!
- ½ cup Mung bean sprouts
- ½ cup spinach leaves
- ½ cup carrots, julienned
- ½ cup zucchini, julienned
- ½ cup mushrooms (I used shiitake), sliced
- ½ cup green onions, sliced
- 75 gms - ½ cup beef, pork or chicken, ground or cut into fine strips (I used pork mince) 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pinch of salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang)
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 220 gms – 1 cup Korean rice (short grain rice, the same is used to make Sushi)
- 300 ml – 1¼ cup water
- 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 rice and remove the water, and immediately place the rice back into the bowl.
- Measure the water that will be used for cooking, and pour it over the rice. Let it soak for 30 minutes.
- After the soaking time, transfer the 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 about 5 minutes!
- Turn off the heat and let it sit for an additional 15 minutes, covered, to finish cooking.
- Stir the rice after it has finished cooking so that the moisture is evenly distributed.
- Now you can marinate the meat. Mix all the marinade ingredients with the meat and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.
- Wilt the mung bean sprouts, drain them and immediately immerse them in cold water to stop cooking. Drain again. Season with a pinch of salt and ½ teaspoon of sesame oil. Use the same process for the spinach.
- Sauté the remaining 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.
- Use the same pan to sauté the meat over high heat until cooked through.
- Combine all ingredients and set aside. This sauce is served separately, according to each one's taste.
- Make a "bed" of steamed rice. The amount is up to you, it’s usually ½ to 1 cup per serving.
- Arrange the warm prepared vegetables on top of the rice, side by side, around the pot, as shown in the pictures. 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 and serve.
- For Dolsot Bibimbap (cooked in a stone pot), brush some sesame oil at the bottom of the stone pot or skillet. Then add the rice and all the other ingredients as above.
- Put a raw egg yolk in the center of the dish.
- 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 in total to cook, 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!
- The heat of the pot will cook the yolk through when you mix everything at the time of eating.
- Bibimbap is traditionally eaten with a spoon. Add some sauce to the bowl, mix everything together thoroughly and enjoy!
Vegetarians may omit the meat or use grilled tofu as a substitute.