There is more to Korean cuisine than kimchi. The rather fabulous sounding dish bibimbap (that’s bi-bim-bap) is a recent discovery that, thanks to my lovely friend LW, is possible and very easy to make yourself at home.
I’ve only ever eaten it at her house (I request it without fail whenever I am there, regardless of the time of day) and yesterday she kindly broke down her recipe in to Janet and John style steps so that I could follow it all:
Bebimbap is essentially Korean nasi champor (mixed rice) and there’s something clean tasting, virtuous and more-ish in every mouthful. Good old Gwynnie made it quite popular, apparently, by ordering it (probably only twice – that’s usually enough to cause a media avalanche) at a Korean restaurant in the US.
I don’t know Gwyneth and I’m not desperately interested in what she eats (probably not much) but she has got one thing right: bebimbap is worth eating.
Here’s how to make it:
Brown rice (extra points from Gwen for this I am sure)
Blanched and still crunchy carrot (cut in to thin strips)
Thin strips of cucumber (telegraph cuc not local variety), skin on
Lightly cooked and thinly sliced mushrooms (shitake or similar, quickly flash fried in some veg oil)
Cooked spinach with absolutely every possible drop of water squeezed out of it (and blotted with kitchen towel just to be sure)
Some leaves of rocket or similar
Using the rice as a base, add a little bit of everything to your bowl. Looks something like this:
Then add the all important blob of chili sauce to the middle of each dish:
To enhance the rather basic store-bought* chili sauce (you want to buy something in a bottle called Gochujang), mix some with a small amount of water, a few drops of sesame seed oil, freshly minced garlic and some toasted, crushed sesame seeds (you can actually buy ready-toasted and crushed at most Korean supermarkets*).
Fry a beautiful, organic and yellow yolked free range egg (LW has a little frying pan that only has room for one fried egg at a time which is why hers look so perfect and why mine never do!) and pop it on top.
Add a sprinkling of chopped up dried seaweed for crunch and a few more toasted, crushed sesame seeds and…you’re off.
Mix it all up once it lands in front of you (not rude to do…although in England, as a child, I’d have been sent to my room with no supper for doing this at the table).
To be eaten with chopsticks and a Chinese (ahem, Korean) spoon, but you know what I mean. A big-ish porcelain spoon.
If you have carnivorous men who you fear might faint at the lack of meat in this, poach some chicken and they can add it in.
*There’s a Korean supermarket at Novena Square 2 but you can sometimes find Korean ingredients in Cold Storage.