Bibimbap (literally “mixed rice”) is one of the most famous Korean dishes and – if you get rid of the “authenticity” complex – it can become one of the most versatile and quick home meals. I feel that the meat seasoning and the gochujang sauce are crucial to feel a Korean touch in this rice bowl, so I never change or omit those, but otherwise, I play with different vegetables, I season the meat with Chinese dark soy sauce and, to make matters worse, I often finish the cooking process in a microwave… Until now I’ve never dared posting any of my non-genuine versions, but this one is so fantastic, asparagus being prefectly suited for the sweet&spicy gochujang sauce, the seasoned meat and the egg, I couldn’t resist sharing this Europeanised bibimbap with you.
TIPS: I think seasoning is most important here and especially the gochujang (chilli paste) sauce. It’s sold on internet in many countries and cannot be substituted with anything else. Without gochujang you’ll still have a delicious dish but a different one.
Korean chilli flakes are usually medium-hot (or even less… it depends on your heat resistance) and they have a pleasant sweet flavour. It’s one more product worth looking for, especially if you want to start making kimchi.
Apparently the best bibimbap calls for hand-chopped beef. You can ask your butcher to do it or you can do it on your own. I find ground meat still good when reheated in a microwave. Since I usually freeze at least a portion of cooked and seasoned meat, I don’t even try to use chopped meat.
If you want to prepare rice in advance, it’s 100 x better if you keep it frozen rather than refrigerated (many Japanese home cooks do it and the difference is huge!); refrigerated rice becomes tough. The best way to reheat it is in a microwave (even if you want to use it rather cold, for example in a rice salad).
Koreans add a fried or a raw egg to bibimbap. I also love the poached version. The choice is yours.
You can make this dish particularly convenient and quick if you have the rice and the cooked meat ready and if you use your microwave. This is how I do it:
-First I defrost the rice (if it’s been frozen) in the microwave or cook it
-Then I precook my vegetables (asparagus and sprouts) in a microwave for about 30 seconds
-Then I defrost my cooked meat until slightly warm
-Finally I assemble the rice, the meat, the sprouts and the asparagus and put the bowl back to the microwave for about 1-2 minutes to finish the cooking process. In the meantime I poach or fry my egg, put it on top of the bowl, add the gochujang sauce and the meal is ready!
Preparation: about 30-40 minutes
Ingredients (serves two):
300 g ground or chopped meat (my favourite is 1/2 beef 1/2 pork)
10 whole stalks from green onions for the meat, chopped
10 stalks (green part only) for the topping, chopped (I sometimes replace the green onion topping with chives)
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and 1 tablespoon Chinese dark soy sauce)
2 tablespoons sake (or a Korean equivalent)
1 crushed garlic clove
ground black pepper
8-10 asparagus spears, the toughest low parts discarded
two big handfuls of mungo bean sprouts
cooked rice (the amount depends on your habits, but about 250 ml/1 cup of cooked rice should be enough )
2 heaped tablespoons gochujang
1 heaped tablespoon Korean chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sake (or Korean equivalent)
1 tablespoon honey or syrup
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or 1 tablespoon normal soy sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
toasted sesame seeds
First season the meat with soy sauce, sake, garlic, black pepper and chopped green onions.
Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan and stir fry the meat until done.
While the meat is frying prepare the gochujang sauce, combining all the ingredients, and put it aside.
Cut up the asparagus into bite sized pieces.
Heat water for blanching and a pan with some sesame oil for stir-frying the sprouts (unless you use the microwave, see the TIPS above).
Assemble two bowls with rice and top it with the meat.
Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute or microwave it.
Stir-fry the sprouts with 1 teaspoon sesame oil until they start slightly softening, blanch them for 30 seconds or microwave them.
Put the vegetables on top of the rice.
(If the ingredients of your bowl are too cold, you can microwave them put together, apart from chives/green onion, gochujang sauce and the eggs).
Heat oil in a pan and fry the eggs, one by one or poach them.
Place on top of the bowl, add the green onion or chives, gochujang sauce and serve.