When travelling around South Korea, I tried my best to sample as much of the local cuisine as possible to get a true feel for the country. One of my favourite dishes from my trip was Bibimbap. No two places served it the same way. The ingredients could be entirely different from the last, but it was always still recognisable as ‘Bibimbap’.
When I got home, I tried my hand at making a few different versions. I soon realised, you can’t just mix any old veg and rice – there’s definitely an art to it. While none of my versions have quite matched up to the incredible flavours I found in the authentic Korean bibimbap, the recipe below is pretty darn close.
- Mixing bowl
- Sauce Pan
- Paper towels
- Canola oil
- Sesame oil
- Corn syrup
- Tomato paste
Making the sauce
- In making this dish, you should always start with the sauce. When you are making the sauce, it includes putting tomato paste in to a bowl. You can always use Thai chilli paste if you would like to make it spicy.
- When you are finished with the previous step, the next step is to mix together the soy sauce, corn syrup, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and vinegar until the mixture is smooth. Then set aside until it is needed.
Making the Bibimbap
- This step is where you start making the Bibimbap. Grab a saucepan, fill it up with water and wait for the water to boil. Then, add sprouts and cook until the sprouts are crisp and tender. Cook them for about 30 seconds. When they are finished, move sprouts to a bowl of ice water, drain the sprouts and dry them with paper towels. Continue to repeat these steps with the spinach.
- In this step, pour the boiling water into a bowl and add some mushrooms. You should let these soften for about 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and remove their stems. Slice the mushrooms about one quarter think and then put them to the side.
- This step, heat one tablespoon of oil and one half of a tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet pan. Add a tablespoon of ginger, a tablespoon of garlic and mushrooms. Season the ingredients with salt and pepper and cook until it's hot which is about 2 minutes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl when it is done and set it aside. Repeat this step when you are making more.
- Next step, in separate bowls, set aside and add one quarter of a tablespoon of sesame seeds. Add 1 and a half table spoons of garlic, one quarter of a tablespoon of oil. Add salt and pepper to each of the sprouts and the spinach and stir together until everything is mixed together.
- In this step, heat the remaining of the canola oil, add four pieces of tofu and let it cook for a bit. Turn each piece of tofu until they are brown. This will take about 4-6 minutes. When the tofu has been cooked, put each piece to one side and cut in half.
- When you are serving your Bibimbap, serve with one oz of rice in the each bowl in the centre. Place a fried egg on top of each bowl.
- When you are done, put the mushrooms evenly into each bowl on top of the rice. Arrange all the other ingredients into each bowl evenly.
- When you are finished, season each bowl with salt and pepper and you can either serve hot or cold. This dish can be kept for 3-5 days. Enjoy!
A ( Very) Brief History of Bibimbap
Traditionally, Bibimbap was made as a dish for peasants during farming season. The hard work and long hours necessitated all the carb-y goodness in one bowl. So, the workers would get all their energy for the day from one big bowl full of rice and veg side dishes.
Today, I’d say Bibimbap is a little more luxurious than back then. The beautiful flavours and the abundance of tasty vegetables are much more of a treat than a chore. Walking around food markets, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling their take on the dish. I found myself trying as many different variations as I could get my hands on so that I ad a better idea of the ingredients I might put into my own version.
So, if you find yourself around Korea, look out for Bibimbap. See how many different variations you can find! It’s definitely best made authentically with their local ingredients. However, if you want to try it out at home, give this simple version a try. When you see how tasty it is, you’ll be wanting to jet off to Korea to try the proper stuff! Let me know how this recipe goes for you.