Bibim bap in your own kitchen
By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor
|Chae Won Choe prepares bibim bap, which was mom's home cooking.
Jeff Widener The Honolulu Advertiser
The process can be as complex or as simple as you like to make it. Commercially prepared vegetable mixtures from Korean grocery stores take much of the work out of preparing a traditional-style bibim bap. The Americanized version is simpler still, with fewer, more familiar and more widely available ingredients.
Here are recipes for both styles. Note that the beef in these recipes is sautéed although authentic bulgogi is grilled over charcoal or a gas flame to lend the proper woody flavor and sugar-glazed texture. Grill if you can. Thin-sliced ribeye that's ready for making bulgogi is available at larger Korean markets (Palama Market in Palama, Queen's Super Market in Kalihi).
The first recipe is based on techniques used by chef Chae Won Choe of Honolulu and Hi Soon Shin Hepinstall, author of "Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen" (Ten Speed Press, 2002).
Korean-style Bibim Bap
- 2 cups raw short- or medium-grain rice
- 12 ounces beef fillet ("bulgogi cut")
- 2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms or 8 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms
- Vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons water or ch'ongju rice wine or dry vermouth
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger
- 3 green onions, white and pale green part only
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed
- Prepared vegetables (1 cup each of three or four types)*, at room temperature
- Fresh Korean watercress*
- 4 egg yolks, separated
- Kochujang sauce
- Toasted nori (aka laver or kim), sliced or torn into bits**
- Sesame oil
Cook rice in rice cooker or on stove, according to package directions. Be sure to time this so that the rice is steaming hot when other ingredients are ready (you may wish to prepare beef and mushrooms first).
Slice beef fillet thinly (or buy it already sliced) and then cut into strips. Place in bowl.
Reconstitute dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking in 1 cup warm water for 30 minutes, or cut fresh oyster mushrooms into slivers. Place in bowl.
Peel, mash and slice garlic. Peel and slice ginger. Mince green onions. Whisk together soy sauce, sugar, water (or wine) and sesame oil; add garlic, ginger, sesame seed. Pour half of marinade over beef and half over mushrooms.
In a frying pan, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Sauté beef until browned; set aside (refrigerate if preparing in advance). In the same frying pan, sauté mushrooms five minutes, until wilted and moist; turn up heat and fry 1 more minute, so as to absorb juices. Set aside (refrigerate if preparing in advance).
Bring prepared vegetables to room temperature. Wash Korean watercress in cold, running water; trim stems; pat dry with paper towels.
Arrange all ingredients around you.
To compose bibim bap: Place two scoops or more of hot rice in each of 4 large, deep round bowls. Arrange a couple of tablespoons each of the prepared vegetables, fresh Korean watercress, sautéed meat and mushrooms on top of the rice, leaving center free. Place egg yolk in center. Add a generous dollop of kochujang sauce. Lightly glaze with sesame oil. Top with toasted nori.
* Korean markets carry prepared vegetables such as strips of cooked and marinated green gourd, reconstituted kosari (bracken fern), toraji (bellflower root), various kinds of mountain greens and other namul (vegetables), any of which can be used to top bibim bap. Or you can choose bean sprouts (mung or soybean), steamed spinach or other greens, American watercress, sliced summer squash or cucumber. If you use sprouts and fresh greens or American watercress, they should first be blanched 2 minutes in boiling water, plunged into ice water, drained, sliced and marinated with a little soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and sesame seeds to taste. If you use squash or cucumber, first slice into discs or matchsticks, sprinkle with salt and let sit a few minutes, then place in a clean towel, roll and squeeze to remove moisture.
** You can buy small packets of prepared sesame-toasted nori, or you can make it yourself. Brush sheets of nori lightly with sesame oil, sprinkle with salt and toast by dragging swiftly once or twice over a burner on high (gas flame or electric burner) using tongs to avoid burning your fingers. The sheets will brown and crisp slightly.
Korean-American Bibim Bap
- 2 cups short- or medium-grain rice
- 12 ounces beef fillet, cut into thin strips
- Bottled bulgogi marinade
- Bean sprouts
- American watercress
- Kim chee (optional)
- 4 fried eggs, sunny side up
- Kochujang paste
- Toasted nori (aka laver or kim), sliced or torn into bits
- Sesame oil
Cook rice in rice cooker or on stove, according to package directions. Be sure to time this so that the rice is steaming hot when other ingredients are ready (you may wish to prepare beef first).
Marinate beef strips in a little bulgogi marinade for as much as two hours or as little as a few minutes.
Blanch bean sprouts by plunging them into boiling water for 2 minutes; drain and plunge into ice water, then drain. Repeat with watercress. Toss vegetables in a little bulgogi marinade.
To compose bibim bap: Place two scoops or more of hot rice in 4 large, deep round bowls. Arrange 2-3 tablespoons each of the prepared vegetables, meat and kim chee (if using) on top of the rice, leaving center free. Place fried egg in center. Add a generous dollop of kochujang sauce. Lightly glaze with sesame oil. Top with toasted nori.