Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

COOKING

Bibimbap! It's got punch

When it comes to mixing it up in the kitchen, this classic Korean rice-bowl dish is always a big hit.

January 09, 2008|Serena Kim | Special to The Times

When it comes to eating bibimbap, it's all in the mixing. Bibimbap, or "mixed rice," emerges from the kitchens of just about any Korean restaurant in Koreatown: a mound of warm rice in an oversize bowl topped with artfully arranged sections of vegetables, sliced grilled beef and then an egg fried sunny-side up. It's drizzled with a little sesame oil and served with a dollop of kochujang, spicy red pepper paste. When you mix it all together with your spoon, the yolk breaks open and, along with the kochujang, coats the whole crunchy-savory-delicious affair.

It's no wonder then that bibimbap is such a madly popular restaurant dish, but it's especially suited to making at home.

My grandmother could whip up a bowl of bibimbap in less than 20 minutes with whatever rice, namul panchan (vegetable side dishes) and bulgogi (grilled rib-eye steak) was left from previous dinners. Just about any namul -- such as sauteed mung bean sprouts, sauteed mushrooms, lightly pickled cucumber, fresh daikon, braised zucchini or seasoned steamed spinach -- might make an appearance in a beautiful vegetable composition atop rice.

Chang Sun-Young, author of "A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes," remembers eating bibimbap as a girl at the end of the lunar year. "We mixed together all of the leftover side dishes in the kitchen with kochujang and rice to clear out the pantry and make room for the new dishes of the new year," she said.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, January 12, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
Spinach namul recipe: The nutritional information for a spinach namul recipe in Wednesday's Food section was incorrect. The correct data are, per serving: 30 calories; 3 grams protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 1 gram fat, 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 190 mg. sodium.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, January 16, 2008 Home Edition Food Part F Page 2 Features Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
Spinach namul recipe: The nutritional information for a spinach namul recipe in the Jan. 9 Food section was incorrect. The correct data are, per serving: 30 calories; 3 grams protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 1 gram fat, 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 190 mg. sodium.

Even if your pantry doesn't happen to include toraji (bellflower root) or kosari (fernbrake), or your refrigerator isn't already stocked with brined cucumber salad, these are worth shopping for or preparing for bibimbap. Mountain fernbrake is a woodsy, earthy fern that's native to Korea, and shredded white bellflower root has a slightly bitter taste and meaty texture. Both are found in the dried-package aisles of Korean markets.

Dol sot bibimbap -- served in a hot stone bowl so that the bottom layer of rice is browned and crispy -- might be the most popular version of bibimbap at Jeonju restaurant in Koreatown, but it's a relatively new invention created in restaurants around the mid-'70s. The restaurant is named after Jeonju, a city in southwestern Korea that is famous for bibimbap.

"Around Jeonju region, they produce very good-quality rice, soy bean sprouts, and all those things that you might use for bibimbap," says Kyeyoung Park, an anthropology professor at UCLA who studies Korean American culture. "When people visit Jeonju city, the first thing they want is bibimbap."

The homemade version is usually served in a large bowl (which isn't hot or made of stone), and can be quickly assembled with freshly steamed rice, namul panchan and grilled rib-eye or whatever meat you might have on hand.

If there's no time for making traditional Korean namul from scratch, there's always the pre-fab shortcut: the mind-boggling array of ready-made panchan at the Koreatown Galleria. Or try inventing your own, like a seafood bibimbap featuring wild Alaskan salmon and crumbled seaweed, or bibimbap with grilled kale, eggplant and zucchini.

There are no hard and fast rules about what bibimbap is or isn't -- the beauty of it isn't just in its appearance but also in its infinite adaptability.

--

Begin text of infobox

Bibimbap (Mixed rice)

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Kochujang, or Korean red-pepper paste, and thinly sliced beef can be found at Korean markets.

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon crushed roasted sesame seeds

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon finely minced ginger

1 pound thinly sliced rib-eye steak

2 cups short grain rice

1 cup julienned carrots (2 inches long)

1/2 cup red pepper paste (kochujang)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

4 eggs

1 cup toraji namul

1 cup spinach namul

1 cup cucumber namul

1 cup kosari namul

1 romaine lettuce heart, washed, dried and cut into thin strips (about 3 cups)

1. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, the minced garlic, sesame seeds, black pepper and ginger. Mix well. Add the beef, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to overnight.

2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the beef in a thin layer on a greased roasting or baking pan and roast until browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the meat to cool on the pan. When it's cool enough to handle, slice into thin ribbons and set aside.

3. In a large pot, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 cups rice, stirring. Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside.

4. In a large saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat and saute the carrots until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. (Unlike Chinese stir-frying, the Korean technique employs lower heat and a gentler cooking process -- no browning.) Set aside.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|