Bibimbap – Mix properly, please!
I cook bibimbap quite often as it’s easy to make and fun to play around with whatever vegetable we have. It’s also a good and healthy way to get rid of leftover ingredients. When I serve this bibimbap, I always start with “Mix properly, please!” Do you know why?
The word ‘bibim’ means ‘mixed’ and ‘bap’ is ‘rice’, it’s simple, yes, it means ‘mixed rice’. The notion of this food reflects the Korean value of a collective lifestyle, where good fortune is shared and new things are embraced. In my grandparents’ generation in Korea, we ate this ‘Bibimbap’ during harvest seasons, there were helping hands around and needed some quick and easy but delicious and energetic food while working and helping each other. I remember that one summer or autumn day, my big family gathered in front of the farm, started working very early morning. After heavy morning chores in the field, we had lunch on the ground in the middle of planting or harvesting. We added everything (Banchan – side dishes, mainly cooked vegetables) we had in the fridge and mixed with rice and some chilli paste in a huge bowl. And mixed them and passed small bowls of Bibimbap through and all generation was just sitting on the ground ate them under a big shadow prepared by an old tree beside the farm. These kinds of family gathering memories are shared over food on special days. I was really small at that time but I remember these days clearly because I enjoyed the time and food. I also remember that I cried out loud in the middle of the field and was shouting “I don’t want to work anymore, I am tired and it’s getting dark.” I cried partly because the sound of many frogs drove me crazy. It’s one of the funny stories that my family sometimes tell and make fun of kid version of me. This could be my story around ‘Bibimbap’ and I am sure so many Koreans have at least one story of their own.
‘Bibimbap’ is our way of sharing, intermingling, bonding, and creating balance. Fresh seasonal vegetables become healthier when combined with the art of fermentation. The essence of the Korean flavour is the sauce, with soy sauce, chilli and soya bean pastes, you can define the basic but unique flavour of Korean food. And for ‘Bibimbap’ these sauces are the key. I will share very basic, yet creative and healthy sauce recipe with you and also the recipe for the main and side dishes. A Korean meal is completed with rice, soup, and side dishes come together on a table. Before cooking, keep this in mind, “Eat with your eyes first” and you cook with love and show your beloved ones how much you care for them.
How to Cut Vegetables
Prepare the Sauces
Step by Step
A vegetarian version of Korean mixed rice dish. The nicely cooked rice with fresh seasonal vegetables and traditional and must-have Korean traditional sauces, Gochujang (chilli sauce) and Doenjang (soybean sauce). They make the rice and vegetables mingle together deliciously. Don't forget to mix!
- 2 cups rice short grain round rice (Korean or Japanese rice)
- 1 radish white radish
- 1 zucchini
- 1 beetroot
- 1 carrot
- 250 g spinach
- 100 g rocket
- 3-5 mushrooms brown or white button mushrooms (any sort of mushroom is ok)
- 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp chilli paste / soybean paste
- 1 tbsp apple compote
- 1 tbsp almond powder
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
Cook rice without any seasoning (the links for cooking rice).
Prepare all the vegetables in a similar size - slice roots vegetables in thin slices (3x30mm).
And fry each ingredient in a vegetable oil and season with a pinch of salt, start with light coloured vegetables (radish > zucchini > carrots > beetroots) instead of frying you can also boil them in water. In any method you use, shouldn’t cook too long, keep the texture so you can feel some crunch bits in your mouth. Otherwise, it’s too boring and you lose all the nutrition in the oil or water.
Place the cooked rice in a bowl as a thin layer and then dress all the rest nicely on top of it. And add the sauce which already prepared in the middle.
This is optional but if you like fried egg, you can add on top of the sauce. Sunny side up egg will help to mix all the ingredients nicely together.
For both sauces, we have same ingredients except the main (chilli paste and soybean paste).
So prepare 2 sauce balls and add all the ingredients in each bowl and mix them nicely.
* If you want less salty and smooth texture, you can add mayonnaise and more apple compote and almond powder.
* You can keep this sauce for pretty long time (max 2-3 weeks) so also good idea to make it beforehand so it gets permeated further. Longer, taste better.
* The ingredients for the Bibimbap is very flexible so just feel free to use any vegetables you have in your refrigerator.
Behind the Kitchen
I cooked this and presented in a very styled way, you can give lots of effort on special occasions like this but it’s also fine without too much dress up. Just placing each ingredient nicely and clean in a bowl is good enough and also you can use any seasonal vegetables you like so just be creative and healthy as always.
Tips for Being Green
+ With vegetable scraps such as peels, roots and so on, you can make a vegetable soup out of it. Clean properly especially roots to get rid of soil and dirt from the earth and then dry them in the sun would be great but you can also skip this drying part. Then just boiling for a while and get some essence out of them and take the liquid through a sieve. In this way, you can reduce the amount of food waste.
+ Leftover apple with peels, you can make a great apple compote which could replace the sugar on your pantry or just have them as jam or sauce on the side of the dish.
+ With leftover rice and vegetables, you can make other dishes. For example, make a fried rice or rice ball bites and more.