Until a few years ago, I'd never heard of a bibimbap (pronounced "bee-bim-bap") then all of a sudden, street food style vendors started popping up all over London offering this famous Korean dish. It's not surprising, in 2017 CNN Travel included a bibimbap in their top 50 World's best dishes. It literally translates as 'mixed rice' and to be honest, anything goes. There are however a few ingredients that you simply can't skip on...
1. The bibimbap sauce - made with a base of 'Go Chu Jang' Hot Pepper Paste. It's distinct flavour comes from Korean chilli peppers, rice and soy beans along with a fermentation process. There is nothing like it, so make sure you include some on your next Somerset Foodie order.
2. The rice - obviously you can't have a mixed rice dish without rice. The choice of rice is yours, I used our long grain brown rice which is a healthy option and works really well.
3. A fried egg on top - it's essential to finish your bibimbap with a fried egg and let's face it, what's not improved by the addition of a fried egg? OK, well perhaps cornflakes.
4. Sesame - this is a massive flavour in Korea, it's used a bit like a seasoning on cooked vegetables, so make sure you have plenty of sesame oil and sesame seeds on your cupboard.
In Korea, many households will make a bibimbap to use up odds and ends of vegetables. The most popular vegetables to use are beansprouts, spinach, carrots (often raw) and mushrooms. However, as I said, anything goes, so if you have some broccoli, radish, cucumber, cabbage, courgettes, kale, mint leaves, red peppers, seaweed.....throw it into your mix.
A bibimbap doesn't have to be scorchingly hot, often in the summer it's served cold. This does make getting the various elements together slightly less frantic, so it's fine to have the side dishes almost at room temperature.
Presentation and the way you eat your bimbimbap is quite important, essentially the rice is set into the centre of the bowl, all the other ingredients are placed around the edge and then the egg is gently placed on top. As soon as you've marvelled at your beautiful creation, encourage your diners to take their fork (or chopsticks) and mix the whole lot up to look like a dogs dinner - as the name suggests, 'mixed rice'.
For the bibimbap sauce
3tbsps Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste
1½tbsps Sesame Oil
1tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
1½tbsps Soft Brown Sugar
½tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Cloves Garlic, finely grated
3tbsp Cold water
300g Beansprouts, steamed for 4 minutes
250g Young Spinach Leaves, wilted
2 x Large Carrots, sliced into thin strips
6 x Spring Onions, finely sliced
200g Tender Stem Broccoli, steamed or pan fried
10 Radishes, thinly sliced
½ Cucumber, centre removed and cut into strips
1tsp Sea Salt
1tsp Caster Sugar
1tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Fresh Chilli, finely sliced (optional)
2 Cloves of Garlic, finely grated
2tbsp Sesame Seeds
2tbsps Sesame Oil
4 x Fresh Eggs
200g Brown Rice
500g Beef Mince
3 x Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2tbsps Sesame Oil
2tbsps Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
1. Wash the rice under cold running water and leave to soak for 20 minutes.
2. To make the bibimbap sauce, simple mix all the ingredients together. You should end up with a thick sauce, if you think it's too thick, add a bit more water.
3. Slice the cucumber, sprinkle with 1tsp of salt and 1tsp of caster sugar. Mix together, then add in a tablespoon of rice wine vineger and mix add. Set this aside until you're ready. The sharp, slightly pickled cucumber is a great contrast against the other richer flavours.
4. Mix the beef mince with the garlic and sesame oil and set to one side.
5. Cook the brown rice in 2¼ times it's volume of salted boiling water for about 30 minutes. Once it's cooked, turn the heat off and leave in the pan to keep warm.
5. Steam the beansprouts for about 4 minutes, then mix in half the spring onions and 1tbsp of sesame oil. Set to one side.
6. I like to pan fry the broccoli in a little oil, to get some light charring on them. Then add a few tablespoons of water to create a little steam, this will finish cooking them through to tender.
7. Wilt the spinach in a little sesame oil, then roughly chop, add in 1tsp sesame seeds, two finely grated cloves of garlic, the other half of your sliced spring onions and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set to one side.
8. Finish preparing your other ingredients - slice the carrots, radishes and chilli.
9. Heat a large frying pan, then add a couple of tablespoons of cold pressed rapeseed oil. Add in the seasoned beef mince and fry on a high heat until the beef is cooked through.
10. Turn the heat down in the beef mince, push it to one side to make space to fry your eggs.
11. It's now time to plate up. Place a large spoonful of the cooked rice in the centre of a bowl. Arrange all the ingredients, including a big dollop of sauce, around the edge and place the fried egg on top.
Enjoy and foodies, please don't forget to tag us on Instagram or Facebook if you make this at home!
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I keep reaching for our delicious Pickled Lemon Paste. It's intense lemon flavour provides a great lift to so many dishes whether it's a stew, sauce, dressing or marinade. This little salad is really quick and simple to prepare. The liquorice flavour of fennel is perfectly suited to carrying strong flavours...
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