Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Home-spun Version of Bibimbap

The Korean word bibimbap translated literally means mixing (bibim) rice (bap). It is my favorite Korean dish and one that I regard as comfort food. Think, cold, rainy or snowy evening enjoying this meal. To me, it’s a healthy and delicious way to get a variety of vegetables in the winter.

If you’ve never had bibimbap at a Korean restaurant, you don’t know what you’re missing. It is served to you at the table in a sizzling stone pot layered with rice and small piles of vegetables, sprouts, sea vegetables, mushrooms, meat or tofu topped with an egg. It also comes with a side of a sweet and spicy red sauce called Kochujang.

To eat this dish, you begin by literally scrambling the contents with a large spoon, exposing the delicious crunchy crust of rice from the very bottom of the pot. Kochujang sauce is then added into the mixture. It’s hard to believe that something that seems so simple to me can taste so wonderful.

The other night, armed with a fridge full of veggies, I decided to make my home-spun version of this dish – without the stone pot and the crunchy crust. I began with a base of buckwheat and rice (a blend of black and mahogany) and then topped it with veggies, seaweed, tofu, mushrooms, egg, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. I finished it off with the Kochujang sauce (recipe below). The result is the pretty dish you see above.

This would work well with leftover vegetables, rice, and even meat if desired. Just reheat, assemble, and add the sauce.

The Dish

Cooked rice or any combination of rice and whole grains;

Any combination of vegetables, cut into strips and quickly sautéed:

- carrots, zucchini, peppers, scallions, mushrooms (or dried mushrooms that have been soaked);

- seaweed that has been soaked and drained – I used arame;

- ground or chopped meat or tofu – I drained some firm tofu, cut it into rectangles, fried it in a little grapeseed oil, then seasoned it with a little pepper, tamari, and sesame oil;

- a sunny side up egg;

To make the dish pretty (for a few minutes anyway : ), spoon hot rice or grain mixture into the bottom of a wide bowl. Arrange the vegetables, meat, and/or tofu in piles around the outer edge of the rice. Place the egg on top in the middle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, add a large spoonful of Kochujang sauce, then get to work mixing it all together and enjoy!

Kochujang Sauce

2 T chili paste

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T soy sauce or tamari

1 t sesame oil

2 scallions, chopped small

2 t sugar (I used maple syrup)

Mix all the ingredients together well. This makes about 1 – 2 servings.

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