I haven’t been able to eat out as often as before, so I decided to get myself back in the kitchen and do some cooking for my parents and myself. Yesterday, I tried making my own japchae (Korean stir fried sweet potato noodles). Thankfully, the parents thought it was good enough. I was thinking of what else I could make with all the leftover vegetables I had and decided to try another Korean dish: the Bibimbap (비빔밥).
Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice” and is served with tons of different vegetables on top. A bit of meat and a raw or fried egg is also commonly added to a bowl of bibimbap, if the person feels like doing so. It’s one of the most famous Korean dishes and is loved by a lot of people around the globe. According to a poll conducted by CNN Travel in 2011, bibimbap is even part of the World’s 50 Best Foods!
I’ve read through several recipes online and combined them to make my own. What were the ingredients I used?
- Sesame Oil
- Sesame Seeds
- Salt & Pepper
- Light Soy Sauce
- Gochujang (Korean fermented hot pepper paste)
- Vegetable Oil
- Vegetables (Carrots, Red Bell Peppers, Spinach, Beansprouts, Zucchini )
- Dried Mushrooms
- Chicken breast, thinly sliced
- Brown Rice
Here’s a shot of some of the vegetables I decided to use for my version of the bibimbap: beansprouts, zucchini, red bell pepper and carrots. Note that most of the stuff used in this dish are julienned / sliced as thinly as possible.
The photo above shows the spinach, already blanched, then mixed with a bit of sesame oil, a pinch of salt & pepper, and some sesame seeds. The same process goes for the beansprouts.
I didn’t have a lot of problems preparing this dish since most of the ingredients used are mainstays in our house’s pantry. A good example is the dried mushroom. These mushrooms were soaked in hot water for several hours before being sliced into thin strips. Make sure you squeeze the excess water from the mushrooms thoroughly before you start slicing / using them!
These mushrooms were mixed with a bit of sesame oil, light soy sauce, grated garlic, salt and pepper. Set them aside for stir frying later on. (I didn’t get to take a photo of that step, but rest assured that it was done!)
After all the slicing and blanching, I proceeded to the quick (stir) frying part, starting with the egg. Please excuse how oddly shaped that fried egg turned out to be. :p
Then the julienned carrots hit the frying pan with a bit of vegetable oil and some salt.
The same process was done with my red bell pepper strips. The bell peppers are a lot faster to cook versus the carrots, so don’t leave them in the heat for too long. Your kitchen will smell really awesome when these are in the pan, I promise!
The sliced zucchini pieces went in next, with just a pinch of salt. I removed them from the heat after just a few minutes in the pan.
The last one I cooked were the thinly sliced chicken breast fillets. Before starting with anything, I sliced then marinated the chicken in a mixture of light soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. I left it alone while I went ahead with the rest of the slicing and preparations.
I think bibimbap is often prepared using beef, but pork and chicken variations have been seen in different places as well. Since I don’t eat beef, the use of chicken breast was my best option.
After all that cooking, it’s time for assembly! I tried to mimic the way they usually serve bibimbap in Korean restaurants, and hopefully, I did not disappoint. You can’t see it in the photo above, but I used brown rice as the base before arranging all the goodies on top and the egg yolk in the middle.
By the way, that dark red blob next to the egg yolk is the gochujang paste, which I mixed with a bit of coco sugar and some sesame seeds. It’s just sad that my Motorola’s camera didn’t get to capture the colors properly.
Here’s the brand of gochujang I used for this dish. I thought I had another tub of gochujang (different brand) in the house, but it turned out that it was sent to our store and was used up for some of the dishes we served there. I found that other one to be spicier than the one above.
After placing the arranged bowl in front of my parents and getting their positive reactions, it was time to mix it all up. It no longer looked as appetizing once all those stuff are combined, but it was delicious! Mom enjoyed eating the bibimbap while it was still piping hot. Dad said it was good, but he couldn’t eat much of the rice once the gochujang was mixed in thoroughly because of the sweetness.
What complemented the bibimbap and made our dinner a lot more satisfying was Dad’s Pork Ribs and Lotus Root soup (排骨莲藕汤). I’ve always enjoyed munching on those lotus roots since they remain crunchy despite being soaked in the liquid for a long time.
This soup has been prepared and eaten in our household since I was very, very young. It’s light, has a sweet/salty taste and is very nutritious. They say that the lotus roots are good for detoxifying our bodies and in helping those with respiratory problems.
Anyway, the verdict for the bibimbap? Definitely something that I’ll make for my family again. It does take a lot of time to prepare all the ingredients, but I thought that it was a rewarding experience. I might choose to use other vegetables when I cook this again, just to shake things up a bit. 🙂