Bibimbap


Hello everyone, Jess here.  Happy Earth Day to you!  

I’ve got a good one tonight.  For my better half’s birthday, I picked up a stone hot pot (aka a Dolsot) in which to serve him his favorite dish, Korean Bibimbap.  For those that don’t know (and trust me, I’m quite new to the world of Korean cooking so bear with me) bibimbap is a lovely mixture of rice and vegetables, meat (optional) and a fried egg mixed with a distinctly delicious sesame pepper sauce and served in a heated stone hot pot.  I love this dish because the remaining ingredients are so flexible depending on what you have on-hand.  I also love it because I can make a “clean” version (with just rice, meat and veggies) for the kids before tossing the “grown-up” additions (aka the sauce) into the hot pot.  

THE RICE

The primary foundation of bibimbap is the rice, often heated in the stone hot pot coated with sesame oil.  Glutinous rice, sushi rice or other sticky rice works well.  I tried jasmine rice and the Fam approved.

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The process of placing the cooked rice in the hot pot and heating it over the stove (or in the oven) provides a delightful crispy crust to the rice.  It can be bit of a fine line between getting the crust just right and/or burning the rice, so starting with a low to medium heat seems to be the way to go. 

THE ADDITIONS

Next into the bowl are the veggies and/or meat, which, as I mentioned, are pretty negotiable.  The thing about the veggies and the meat is that you want to prep them ahead of time.  Here are some examples of recent Bibimbap additions:

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Shredded beet and kohlrabi (I couldn’t resist making this yin-yang on the plate) with a quick 1-minute sauté were great. As you may have seen in an earlier post, I dubbed this version “Beet-Bimbap”.

 

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Sprouts work well in Bibimbap. You can opt to cook these before putting them in the hot pot, or leave them uncooked. 

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Beef is a traditional Bibimbap meat, but you can mix it up, too. Here I used a NY Sirloin from the meat share and sliced it thinly before marinating and browning. The trick I find to getting a nice thin slice is to leave the meat partially frozen when cutting it. Depending on the type of beef you’re using, you’ll want to cut along or against the grain to get the most tender nibbles. (There is probably some easy formula to remember for how to slice your cuts of beef, but at the time of this writing I’m not aware of it -I have to look it up every time depending on which cut I’m working with).

 

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Shiitake mushrooms are a killer addition to Bibimbap, so much so that this replaces the beef for us in the Meatless Monday version. Here you see them these Fat Moon beauties being marinated much like the beef before a quick trip through the sauté pan.

 

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Shredded radish gives a peppery kick to your dish, and the bite can be toned down with a minute or two in the sauté pan.

 

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I find a large griddle or wok to be a good way to crank through prep, as you’re often trying to get multiple things cooked quickly. Here you see the beef and some bok choy.

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I like to prepare the ingredients and let the eater decide what will be topping the rice in the hot pot.

As there are so many different ingredients to choose from, I’m going to direct you to a Bibimbap cooking chart that I’ve found most helpful when experimenting with ingredients and levels of seasoning for the meats and veggies.  Click on this link to our friends at Crazy Korean Cooking and scroll down the page a bit until you see the general cooking and seasoning chart for various meats and veggies.  It’s a great resource!

THE EGG

Whatever goes in your hotpot, top it with a fried egg, sunny-side-up.

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Here you see the Beet-Bimbap, with shredded beets and kohlrabi, beef, bok choy and cooked sprouts.

 

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This version of Bibimbap has beef, shiitake mushrooms, shredded carrot, radish, and spinach.

THE SAUCE

Finally, you top the Bibimbap with a lovely sauce, to taste.  The sauce is made from a distinctively flavored red pepper paste called Gochujang.  There are recipes out there to make Gochujang from scratch, but I myself have not ventured into the realm of homemade Gochujang, yet.  (It’s kind of like the homemade ketchup conundrum:  I could make it at home, but often times find myself weighing the amount of time and energy it takes against a quick trip to the market, and homemade ketchup doesn’t usually win.) Gochujang is readily accessible at Asian Markets and well-stocked supermarkets.

Once you have obtained your Gochujang, you can mix it with other ingredients to make your sauce.  

My favorite sauce variation comes our fellow blogger at My Korean Kitchen (this makes about 3 servings if you like it spicy, but remember to start small and work your way up until you figure out your level of preferred spiciness).

  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Though the sauce by itself has a kick to it, just a little bit gets totally lost in the rice and tastes quite mild. If you’re nervous about spiciness, start small and then taste your dish.  Stir in more as you feel brave.  Toss some toasted sesame seeds on top if you’d like for a little added deliciousness.

As you stir the sauce into your hot pot and it’s sizzling away, something magical happens: The yolk of your sunny-side-up egg breaks and drizzles onto your other ingredients, while cooking a bit in the sizzle against the side of your hot pot. The sauce meshes with the ingredients in an enjoyable way providing a party in every bite.  Stir things carefully until your sauce is pretty evenly incorporated and the sizzle begins to die down, and enjoy!

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This version looks rather pink as it’s the Beet-Bimbap version.  It looks messy but tastes divine.

It can be a lot of work to make Bibimbap (most of the time consuming part just involves prepping your ingredients) but keep in mind that you can easily make enough to create a week’s worth of combinations at one time (which I recommend that you do!)

Glen thinks this hot pot was the best birthday present ever.  I hope you like it, too!  If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think!


About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food. She is involved with the Westford Community Garden Working Group, Friends of Fat Moon, and is the current chair of the Westford Strawberries 'N Arts Festival.