Bibimbap (비빔밥) is a signature Korean dish that has become very popular far beyond Korea. It is pronounced BEE-BEAM-BOP and it literally means ‘mixed rice’. Sounds a bit boring (the english translation part that is) but if you know anything about Korean cuisine you know you’re in for a whole lot more than just mixed rice. And once you’ve tried bibimbap you will with no doubt fall in love with Korean food.
Bibimbap is a traditional rice dish served in a bowl, preferably a big one. It starts with steamed rice, a topping of fresh and seasoned vegetables, prepared meat (optional), and a fried egg sunny side up. It’s very versatile so there is no standard assortment of vegetables in bibimbap. Just choose your favorites, and if you are vegetarian simply leave the meat out. This won’t change the quality of your bibimbap; it will only make it better since you use what you like. The spicy sauce (gochujang) is added right at the end (and this can be adjusted too depending on your tolerance for spicy) before everything is all mixed together.
For this MNSDK Cooking with Friends post I invited my Dutch bestie, Liesbeth, to make bibimbap with me because you should never eat bibimbap alone. Besides, Liesbeth LOVES Korean food. I met Liesbeth 7 years ago when I moved to the Netherlands. Both our children attended the International School of Eindhoven, and as most moms do we became friends because our children were friends. Liesbeth and I had so much in common that it was no surprise we became good friends. Sometimes I really forget she is Dutch because with our differences in culture, ethnicity and lifestyle how could we understand each other so well? Regardless, Liesbeth has shown me how wonderful Dutch life can be, and I (but probably more so my Dutch husband) will forever be grateful for that.
So if you are at a loss for what to make for dinner, then do Korean. Make some bibimbap and enjoy this traditional Korean dish with family and friends.
Bibimbap (비빔밥) is a traditional Korean rice dish with its popularity reaching far beyond Korea.
- 4 cups of uncooked short grain rice
- 400g ground meat
- 6 eggs
- 1 english cucumber (roughly 2 cups when sliced)
- 400g fresh spinach
- 2 carrots
- 1 cup kimchi, chopped
- 1 cup lettuce, shredded
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
- 2 stalks scallions
- Seasonings: soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, salt. (For amounts refer to 'directions' per topping.)
- Step 1 RICE: Cook rice according to package instructions or alternatively use a rice cooker.
- Step 2 CUCUMBERS (part 1): Cut the cucumbers in half or in quarters lengthwise, and then thinly slice crosswise. Place into a bowl and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of salt to the cucumbers and mix. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes while preparing the rest of the bibimbap toppings. The salt helps drain the liquid out of the cucumbers.
- Step 3 SPINACH: Blanch spinach in boiling water until just wilted (about 1 minute). Drain and shock in cold water. With your hands squeeze out as much water out of the spinach as you can, and then repeat 2-3 more times to ensure you get most of the liquid out. Cut into approximately 2 –inch lengths. Place spinach in a bowl, add in ½ chopped scallion, ¼ teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoons sesame oil and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds. Mix well.
- Step 4 CARROTS: Julienne carrots. That’s it. No cooking necessary.
- Step 5 LETTUCE: Shred lettuce. That’s it. No cooking necessary.
- Step 6 KIMCHI: Chop prepared kimchi. You can usually find kimchi at your local Asian store, and often times in your local grocer in the Asian aisle. If you don’t have access to kimchi it is perfectly ok to leave it out of your bibimbap.
- Step 7 CUCUMBERS (part 2): Take the cucumbers out of the fridge. Drain the excess liquid out of the bowl. Then add 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar and ½ teaspoon sugar. Mix well.
- Step 8 MEAT (if using): In a small bowl combine ¼ cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 finely chopped scallion, and 1 minced garlic clove. Mix well and set aside. Over high heat cook the meat, breaking up the pieces while cooking. Then pour the sauce over meat and cook 5 minutes longer.
- Step 9 SAUCE: In a small bowl add: 2 tablespoons gochujang, 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, and 2 teaspoons of sesame seads. Mix well. (Gochujang is a Korean chili paste, sold in most Asian stores).
- Step 10 EGGS: Fry eggs sunny side up (or down if you don’t like the uncooked yolk).
- Step 11 ASSEMBLY: Place a serving of rice in a big bowl (about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of cooked rice is all you need because you’ll be adding a lot of toppings to the rice). Add your choice of toppings directly on top of the rice.
- Step 12 The final topping should be the sauce. It’s a spicy sauce so if you don’t know what you can handle then add less than more in the beginning. You can always add more sauce later if you need it. With a spoon mix everything together. Enjoy!