When visiting my friend Julia in South Korea, bibambap became one of my favorite foods. Maybe it was because it was relatively easy to say; maybe it was because it was easy to recognize in a list of pictures. Most likely, it was its comforting flavors of rice, vegetables, and sesame, topped by a sunny egg. Dol sot bibimbap was served in a hot stone bowl, so the rice sizzled and turned crispy. The best part about it was the chili sauce that you pour on and mix in.
As soon as I returned to the states, I set out to duplicate the dish. Living in North Carolina at the time, it was difficult to find well-stocked asian grocery stores. Luckily, the one I found was owned by Koreans. They had the kochujang, which forms the basis of the chili sauce.
The types of vegetables in the dish are not set in stone; usually I throw in whatever I have in the fridge. Sometimes kimchi is tossed in. It is usually served without meat, but adding a protein is fine. Bulgogi, a grilled beef, is a popular choice to add to bibambap. I used turkey bacon this time, but only because I thought we had tofu in the fridge, and discovered we didn’t.
1 c sticky rice, cooked
9 slices turkey bacon (optional)
2 c fresh spinach
12 shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
2/3 c matchstick carrots
6 oz fresh bean sprouts
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 Tbs sesame oil
4 Tbs kochujang (Korean chili paste)
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Toasted seaweed (nori), thinly sliced (optional)
Line bacon in a large pan and fry until crispy. Remove from heat and slice into strips. While the bacon is frying, bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Blanch spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and let drain on some paper towels. Blanch the shitake mushrooms the same way and let drain. Pat both dry with more paper towels.
In a small bowl, stir together the kochujang and rice vinegar to form a paste. Set aside.
Divide the rice into four bowls. Sprinkle the sugar and drizzle the sesame oil over the rice. Arrange the spinach, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, and bacon in sections over the rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Fry eggs to desired doneness and place one in each bowl. Top with green onions.
To serve, sprinkle seaweed over the food. Pour in some chili sauce and mix up, making sure to break up the egg. Koreans eat this dish with a spoon.
I am a home cook, musician, and wannabe photographer. Kokocooks documents my adventures in the kitchen – developing recipes using fresh, seasonal ingredients, concocting fun desserts, and encouraging a love of cooking in my young son.