Bibimbap

20 Oct

This recipe reminds me of my mama. No, we aren’t Korean. But there was this great Korean restaurant near my mama’s work. When I was in high school and college, my mom and I would meet at this place during her lunch break and each order bibimbap. Bibimbap is basically a mix of different vegetables, beef, and a fried egg that are served warm over rice. It is also served with my favorite condiment ever — Korean hot paste. The real name for this is Haechandle taeyangcho gold gochujang (hot pepper paste). Whatever you call it, I love it. So when I saw it a our local Korean grocery store, I knew immediately what I was going to make — bibimbap!

I have made this at least twice now but I will probably make a few other variations since I have promised my mom to cook it for her when I go home to visit during Christmas and I need it to be perfect by then! But, that’s why the picture of the final meal (my first attempt) and the cooking instructions (the most recent attempt) will be slightly different looking. The great thing about this dish is that you can vary the ingredients according to what you like or what is in your fridge — and that’s why the pictures are a bit different.

First things first, you definitely need to cook some good white rice! I have a rice cooker and my rule of thumb is to pour rice into the bowl, rinse it a few times until the water is clear, and then fill it with water till the first line on my index finger. I know lots of people use specific measurements, but I don’t even know those — this is how I have always made rice. Now, if I was my Obachan, I would rinse my rice and then drain it overnight and make a perfect water measurement. But, I save that type of preciseness for sushi rice.

Now, here is a list of possible toppings for one of the dishes that makes a good fight for “if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life” —

– Bean sprouts
– Spinach
– Shitaki mushrooms
– Cucumber (or zucchini)
– Carrot
– Daikon
– Gosari (fern)
– Fried egg
– Beef (I used the bulgogi chicken I found at the local Korean store)

Basically, I took each of these ingredients, cooked them separately, and then topped a bowl of rice with them. It can be time consuming to do this, however, it is a dish well worth the time.

I buy my shitake mushrooms dried. In order to prepare them, you need to boil a pot of water, turn off the heat, and then soak the mushrooms in the hot water for a few hours until they are all soft. Then, I stir-fried them in some of the mushroom water (be sure not to get the grim at the bottom of the pot), shoyu (soy sauce), sesame oil, and a pinch of sugar. I don’t really work with measurements, so guesstimate according to your own tastebuds. I also love mushrooms so these take up a good portion of my mixed bowl.

Next, cucumbers. (Really, there is no order – its just the order my photo feed is in). It is best if you buy an English or Asian cucumber because they are smaller and have less seeds. You need to peel the skin off, but I always leave a few strips for the color and the nutrition I always hear the skin carries. Scoop out the seeds and then cut into little half moons. These are also cooked with shoyu, sesame oil, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Then, bean sprouts. Such a simple ingredient, and seriously, one of my favorites. I love just cooking these by themselves and eating it with some rice and shoyu. I also have bought it at the Korean grocery store and they have kimchi flavoring, which is just delicious. I have tried to re-create it (even cooking it with the sauce in the kimchi that I buy at the store) but its just not quite right. However, for bibimbap, I just cooked these with EXTRA sesame oil (bean sprouts and that sweet nuttiness of sesame oil are PERFECT for each other), shoyu, sesame seeds, and a few drops of chili oil for a dash of heat. I also tossed in some spring onion at the last minute.

Gosari. This can be a strange ingredient, because, well, it’s fern. If you buy this dry, you need to soak it overnight. At my local Korean grocery store, I found it pre-soaked and I could just buy as much as I needed. It just needed to be cut into about 1-2 inch sized pieces. And, again, cooked with a bit of shoyu and sesame oil. (This is why this recipe is easy — similar ingredients over and over again. You’re just doing it over and over again).

The last time I made this recipe (not pictured here due to a lack of my foresight of wanting to write a blog in the next few months), I also made pickeled daikon (white Japanese radish) and carrot. I don’t quite remember where I got this recipe, but you can find a similar one here.

I also chose to not fry an egg for this meal. However, whenever I have been served it at a restaurant, there is always a fried egg that when you cut into it, lets the yellow out to mix throughout your bowl. However, when I made this last night, I had made egg and rice (fried rice but no veggies or meat) for breakfast and I felt like that was enough.

And, finally, the meat. Typically, I have seen this with beef. I don’t know how that is usually marinated. For me, I got the bulgogi chicken at the store. It’s pre-marinated. And since the boyfriend is in charge of cooking meat (and baking fries) in our home, he simply cooked the chicken also. Not much to share there. If you can find this, I recommend getting it. It’s deliciously flavored. If not, I don’t know how to tell you how to marinate it. If you know this, let me know.

And now – put it all together! I like to serve mine in a nice big bowl. Rice on the bottom and then just arrange your vegetables and meat in a circle. In the middle, I put a nice big heap of the Korean hot paste (the boyfriend prefers chili-garlic sauce). And….yummy! Writing this has bumped bibimbap to my top three of “if I could choose only one thing to eat for the rest of my life” list. Sooo delicious. Okasan, are you ready for me to cook for you during my Christmas break? Pick your toppings!

The Boyfriend Rates It: (If the boyfriend doesn’t rate this highly, I am breaking up with him — it’s that freaken delicous!)
5, it`s even better than it looks 😉
All the ingredients and flavors are well developed and have their own flavor, all while still tasting great together. And that chicken is freaking delicious.

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One Response to “Bibimbap”

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  1. Chirashi « Mexicanese - December 9, 2012

    […] Obaachan and my Okaasan that is easily one of my favorite meals. It is time consuming, almost like bibimbap, but worth the […]

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