Aaaaah, a good old Far-East Asian dish for my World Food Challenge!! It’s been a long time that I haven’t experimented cooking something like that! Since one of my dearest cousins has married a Korean lady a few years ago and they recently moved together to Seoul, we have exchanged a bit on food matters, and I’m now – more than ever – very eager to know more about Korean cuisine. I’ll start my Korean cooking experience with a classic of all times, the famous Bibimbap.
As far as Asian cuisine is concerned, I love everything that can be eaten along with rice. That’s simply because I just love plain white rice, it goes with everything, and Asian rice is perfumed, sticky, always perfectly cooked, and I could go on forever about rice (silly me!). The Bibimbap consists on a big bowl filled with rice in the bottom, and topped with many diverse ingredients including meat and veggies, that are all pre-marinated and cooked in an Asian-style sauce, and an egg on top of it all. This dish is usually quite filling, hearty and wholesome too. Spicy if you like hot flavors, as you can choose to go fully-Korean and add on top of your bibimbap a dollop of Gochujang paste, which is a far equivalent of our Sriracha sauce (it only has in common its hotness). For this version of today’s Bibimbap, I’ve chosen to omit the egg and the dollop of hot paste. Will try that next time for sure!
For the Bibimbap as well as for other Asian dishes, I will always recommend to get all ingredients ready for cooking before you start the gaz. Meaning: cut all your veggies and meat into pieces, have your marinade ready on the side, and before you’re doing all of that, start cooking your rice in the rice-cooker so that you don’t need to take care of it at all anymore before the final assembly of your Bibimbap. Once you turn the gaz on, all ingredients will have to be cooked in a row, and you don’t want some of them to end up cold within minutes. Trust me, neither you’ll want the drops of your marinade to end up burning in your wok/pan and leave an awful flavor to your overall dish while it’s waiting for the next veggie to come in and be cooked, nor you’ll want to spend your precious time doing the washing-up in between the cooking of every veggie type! Get organized, that’s all I’m saying.
Speaking of organization, the concept of Bibimbap resides as well in how all ingredients must be beautifully arranged inside the bowl. The notion of aesthetics in most Asian cultures makes no exception in Korean dishes. While each ingredient must find its place, it also has to bring in its share of punchy colour and natural attractiveness. Try to think about this when you’re writing down your grocery list and picking your veggies at the market. In Asia, it often is all about finding the right balance in things and life. Stating the obvious, you would say; well, yes, I am indeed stating the obvious, nevertheless, you shall note that only Asians are stating this out loud. In our Western cultures, we know it but do not openly state it as a real goal in our life. We acknowledge it as a way of life, but not as a distinct objective, which makes the whole difference in our perception of what it is to actually search for balance.
Now, let’s get back down to Earth and eat!
INGREDIENTS (for 2 Bibimbap)
- 2 tbsp of soya sauce
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 clove of garlic
- freshly ground black pepper
- 200 grams of beef steak
- 2 portions of Asian rice and the volume of water required by your rice cooker (I use 1,5 volume of water for 1 volume of rice)
- A mix of soft mushrooms, sliced, or shiitake mushrooms for a full Asian experience
- 1/2 zucchini
- 1 carrot
- 2 handful of spinach leaves
- 1 handful of soya sprouts
- 2 eggs
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp of neutral oil
- 2 tbsp of roasted sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- A small Nori sheet, thinly sliced for decoration (optional)
- A dollop of Gochujang paste (or Sriracha sauce) on top of each Bibimbap)
- Prepare the marinade by combining all its ingredients in a medium size bowl.
- Thinly slice the beef in long strips.
- Put the beef slices into the marinade, cover with a plastic film and let it sit in the fridge until it’s time to cook it.
- Put the rice into the rice-cooker and set it on the cooking position. Now forget about it until it’s time to plate it up.
- Slice small strips of Nori as well (for the final decoration).
- Peel the carrot and wash it. Wash the mushrooms, soya sprouts and zucchini.
- Cut the carrot and zucchini in sticks (a bit larger than Julienne sticks).
- Mince the mushrooms and garlic cloves.
- In a small bowl, combine the neutral oil and the sesame oil.
- Start the gaz. Heat a wok with 2 tsp of the oils mix, and cook the zucchini along with the garlic and with salt during 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Do exactly the same, veggie after veggie, one by one (carrot, soya sprouts, spinach leaves) for 2 minutes each. Reserve aside, keeping all veggies separate.
- Now cook the mushrooms the same way, during 5 minutes, and add soya sauce after about 3 minutes.
- In the meantime, take the meat out of the fridge and start serving the rice in 2 individual bowls.
- Reserve the mushrooms alongside the other veggies.
- If you still have some oil mix available, pour it into the wok and sear the beef slices in it for 2 minutes only.
- Immediately serve the warm beef onto the rice and arrange the veggies nicely.
- Heat a small pan with a tsp of neutral oil, lightly grease cooking circles, and cook 2 eggs sunny-side up in them. Immediately set the eggs over the rice and veggies.
- Display the Nori strips over the Bibimbap and sprinkle with nice sesame seeds.
- Put a dollop of Gochujang paste or Sriracha if you like hot cuisine.
- Eat warm!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.