Bibimbap is popping up all over the place these days. Lunch joints, quick dinner take-aways, or traditional Korean restaurants, bibimbap is one of my favorite dishes. It’s an all in one—veggies, rice, beef, with an egg on top. A perfectly balanced meal of sweet and savory all in one bowl. Personally, I prefer the dolsot bibimbap, served in a Dolsot clay bowl, leaving the rice on the edges crispy, giving the whole dish an added dimension.
According to Wikipedia, bibimpab means “mixed rice” in Korean. Personally, when I order bibimbap at restaurants, I always find that there aren’t enough veggies and too much rice at the bottom. This, and my mom’s never ending craving for Asian flavors, motivated me to look up recipes and try my hand at a home made bibimbap. I also figured this would be a great way to squeeze additional veggies into my mom’s diet.
Since I’d never made bibimbap before and because there are numerous components to a good bibimbap, this was a Sunday project. I took most of my inspiration from Bon Appetit’s recipes for the Bulgogi and mix-ins, but I perused several blogs for techniques and recipes for inspiration as well. It’s possible to make this on a weeknight, but it definitely is not a quick weeknight meal. Personally, I’d save this one for the weekend because it takes sometime to get all the veggies together. I think from start to finish, including time to prep the veggies, this took me an hour and 45 minutes to get it on the table. The recipes for each of the components are below, but here are the steps I took:
- Marinate beef (adapted from Bon Appetit and my mom’s Bulgogi recipe) — Skip the beef and you’ve got a vegetarian bibimbap!)
- Soak Shitake mushrooms
- Chop and prep all veggies
- Start the rice
- Blanche the spinach
- Sauté the carrots (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- Sauté the bean sprouts (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- Sauté the zucchini (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- Chop the Shitake mushrooms
- Make the Gochujang Date sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- Sauté the spinach (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- Sauté the mushrooms (adapted from Bon Appetit)
- Cook the beef
- Assemble the dish
- Fry the eggs and top it all off!
BIBIMBAP (serves 4-5)
1 pound thinly sliced sirloin or rib-eye
½ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 medium sized apple or Asian pear, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
5-6 cloves of garlic (peel and mince 4-5 of the cloves)
1 inch slice of ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5-6 dried shitake mushrooms
1 cup medium grain rice
6 tablespoons sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoon sesame seeds
4 large carrots
2-3 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 medium green zucchini
1 cup Korean chili paste (Gochujang)
5 medjool dates, pitted
4-5 cups fresh spinach
4-5 eggs (or one egg for each serving)
Marinate the beef. In a small food processor, add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 cloves garlic, apple or Asian pear, 2 scallion stalks, ginger and brown sugar. Process ingredients to make a paste by pulsing 8-10 times. In a medium bowl, add the paste and remaining soy sauce. Add the sliced beef and stir to coat. Cover the beef with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a small bowl, place the dried shitake mushrooms and cover with hot water. In a separate small bowl, do the same with the medjool dates. Then, set aside both small bowls to allow the mushrooms and the dates to re-hydrate.
In a medium pot bring 1 quart of water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, peel and chop the carrots and zucchini into matchsticks. Start the rice in a rice cooker or cook on the stove top according to the package instructions.
Once the water is boiling, blanche the spinach in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then place the spinach in a large bowl of ice water to shock the spinach and stop the cooking. This will also keep the leaves green.
In a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Add the carrots and sauté the carrots for 3-4 minutes. Salt and pepper the carrots to taste and sauté until the carrots are softened. Remove the carrots, plate and set aside. I plated all of the sauted veggies one large platter so everyone could make their own bibimbap (scroll down for a pic).
In the same pan, add another tablespoon of sesame oil over medium high heat. This time, sauté the bean sprouts for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, then salt and pepper to taste. Add ¼ teaspoon of Korean hot pepper flakes if using and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the heat, plate and set aside.
And, repeat with the zucchini. Heat another tablespoon of sesame oil over medium high heat, sauté the zucchini for 3-4 minutes, season with salt and pepper, then sauté for another 2-3 minutes until the zucchini is tender. While the zucchini is cooking, drain the shitake mushrooms and slice the mushrooms. When the zucchini is done, remove the zucchini and plate.
Drain the medjool dates. In the bowl of a small food processor, add the dates, 1 cup of Korean chili paste, and ¼ cup water. Pulse 10-15 times, until the paste is thick and the dates are processed. Scoop the sauce into a small bowl and set aside. If you prefer your sauce thinner, just add a few more tablespoons of water until the desired consistency.
Drain and squeeze the blanched spinach. Then in the same frying pan over medium heat, heat another tablespoon of sesame or olive oil. Add the remaining minced garlic cloves. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the spinach leaves. Salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper), then add 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar. Saute the spinach for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the frying pan and plate.
In the same frying pan over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce. Add the sliced mushrooms and 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds. Sauté the mushrooms and sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, then plate the mushrooms.
Place the same frying pan back on medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the marinated beef with the sauces and sauté the beef for 4-5 minutes for medium rare meat. The timing here will vary depending on the thickness of the meat.
Finally, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the same frying pan and fry one egg per serving. Traditionally, bibimbap is served with an egg cooked sunny-side up, but I like my eggs over medium, so that’s what I use.
Now, it’s time to put all your glorious work together. When we enjoy this for dinner, I like to put everything on a platter so everyone can have a “make your own bibimbap” buffet. It’s easy, rice on the bottom, add the veggies and beef, and then top with an egg and the sauce. Take a moment to pause and enjoy the beauty of the components in front of you, then…stir it up, mix up the components and enjoy! Mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmm. Hard work pays off on this one!