As you might have noticed, I have been quite lazy in the kitchen during last weeks. Due to my recent frequent trips, I don’t find motivation to cook complicated dishes, not to mention trying new recipes. Last weekend however I felt an urgent need for cooking adventures and decided to prepare my very first bibimbap, the famous Korean beef and vegetable rice dish. I wanted to go shopping, but looking through my fridge I saw that, miraculously, I had almost all the ingredients. I started to marinate the minced beef, I prepared the vegetables, assembled the sauces and suddenly realised… I ran out of rice! If you are Asian or, like me, an Asian food addict, you can imagine the horror, since the shop selling good quality rice is far and there was no way I could get there before the closing time. This happened for the first time in my life (of course I count only the years since I have fallen in love with Japanese short grain rice), so after the first moment of panic, I started to look for a solution and came up with this simple, but absolutely delicious, Korean-inspired dish.
The vegetables depend on your preferences (maybe apart from the carrot which in my opinion goes perfectly with Korean flavours), the crucial elements being the sauce, the marinated beef and, last but not least, the Korean sweet potato noodles, called dangmyeon (당면). Light brown, or rather greyish, they don’t look very attractive when dry, but they are my definite favourite transparent noodles. Contrary to all the glass noodles I know, they actually do have their own delicious taste, though they absorb easily flavours from the sauces and spices. I love them especially for their slightly chewy texture other noodles lack. I find them excellent with Chinese dark soy sauce and here they were perfect with strongly flavoured marinated beef. In short, the initial catastrophe ended up in an invention that is already on my staples list. If you cook Korean from time to time, you will probably have all the seasoning and sauce ingredients in your kitchen at any time.
The beef marinade, the sauce (substantially modified) and the remaining ingredients (everything slightly changed) are inspired by a bibimpab recipe found in the excellent The Food and Cooking of Korea by Young Jin Song.
If you don’t like beef, but feel like experimenting with these Korean noodles, I have posted here a similar stir-fried dish with chicken.
Preparation: 20 minutes (+ beef marinating time: 30 minutes at least)
Ingredients (serves two):
2 portions of Korean sweet potato starch noodles (I take usually about 80 g for two, but it depends on your appetite)
1 courgette, julienned
1 big carrot julienned
6-7 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried ones; soaked until soft), sliced (without stems)
1 onion, sliced (it can be the white part of the spring onion)
(a handful of soybean or mung sprouts)
200 – 250 g minced beef
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (I have used Chinese dark soy sauce)
2 small garlic cloves, crushed or grated
1 tablespoon chopped spring onion green part
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine (I have used, as always, sake)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
1 teaspoon (or more) Korean chilli powder
1 tablespoon agave syrup (or honey or another syrup)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce (light)
Combine the marinade ingredients with the minced beef. Cover and let marinate for 30 minutes (you can leave it for several hours or even overnight, but refrigerated).
Combine the sauce ingredients.
Soak the noodles in boiling water for about 20 minutes before you start stir-frying.
Heat one tablespoon oil in a wok.
Stir fry the beef until crunchy.
Add the onion and the shiitake and stir fry until the onion becomes soft.
Add the carrot and stir fry for about one minute.
At the end add the courgette (and the sprouts if you use them), the noodles and the sauce.
Stir fry until the sauce thickens.
Serve sprinkled with green onion and toasted sesame seeds.