If I was trapped on a desert island with only one food for the rest of my life, this would be it.
I love all kinds of Korean food, but bibimbap might be my absolute favorite.
I also love how many vegetables are crammed into this dish and how easily adaptable it is! If you have some veggies that are about to go bad in the fridge, sauté them and throw them into the bowl! I’ve added asparagus, green peppers, really it’s whatever you have lying around!
The dish is traditionally made as a bed of rice with veggies, some meat on top, and then topped with the spicy pepper sauce, gochujang. But I also like to make the recipe paleo by substituting the rice for diced cauliflower, trust me, it’s just as scrumptious!
It’s also a great recipe because it can be as involved or as easy as you like, depending on how many veggies and toppings you add to your bowl. I like to add a lot so I can eat it for leftovers all week, I also love the look of a rainbow bowl filled with all kinds of colors from the carrots, zucchini, beef, and egg.
Colors actually figure in to the tradition of cooking bibimbap. Traditionally, there should be five different colors as a part of the dish that have to do with the five elements of Korean Taoist philosophy. These elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, and are also associated with different flavors that we taste, sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and sweet, and so the goal is to find this balance both in the meal, and in the ingredients used for the dish.
Bibimbap is one of the most famous traditional Korean foods and it literally translates to stirred or mixed rice. No one knows the true origin of the dish but it was actually written about in a cook book for the first time in the 1800’s and was called “palace food,” perhaps created for whenever the King wanted a lighter meal. Another theory for the start of the meal was that it was developed for peasants during farming season, so they could all just eat out a single bowl, throwing all the rice and vegetables together.
Whatever the reason for creating bibimbap, I’m so happy it exists, and now you can find the pairings that work best for you in the creation of this iconic dish.
Ingredients (feel free to add or take away any of these, you’re combining what you want to make):
- 4 Carrots cut into matchstick sized pieces
- 2 Zucchinis cut into ¼ inch half moons
- 2 Cucumbers cut into ¼ inch half moons
- 2 Diced Onions
- 1 bag of Spinach
- 1 bag of Bean Sprouts
- 1 box of Shiitake Mushrooms
- 2 lbs of minced beef
- 10 Tbsp minced garlic
- Soy Sauce
- Olive Oil
- 4 eggs
- Gochujang Korean Chili Paste
- Sesame Oil
Instructions (again, feel free to follow all of these instructions or to just add your own veggies to the mix):
Make the Chili Paste
- 6 Tbsp Gochujang
- 5 Tsp Sesame Oil
- 2 Tsp Sugar
- 6 Tsp Water
Mix it all together in a small bowl, you can add this at the end to your finished dish based on your taste!
Marinate Your Meat (either used minced beef or chicken, you can even use tofu)
- 5 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tsp Sesame Oil
Add all of this to your meat and mix it. Cover and let it all marinate for ½ an hour while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Make the Cucumber!
- The cucumbers should already be cut into ¼ inch half moons
- Put all the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle them all with salt. Let them sit for about 10 minutes; you’re trying to get out all the liquid from the cucumbers.
- After 10 minutes, put all the cucumbers in a kitchen towel and squeeze out all the excess liquid with your hands.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan until slightly steaming, then add the cucumber for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned.
- Add in a tablespoon of garlic, mix for 30 seconds, and then turn off the heat.
- Add a teaspoon of sesame oil and put the cucumbers back in a bowl on the side.
Make the Zucchini!
- Repeat all the steps for the cucumber (including getting the liquid out of the zucchini)
Cook the Carrots
- You should have your matchstick sized carrots
- Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan
- Sauté the carrots with a bit of salt for about 4 minutes until tender
Cook the Onion
- You should have already diced the onion
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in the pan
- Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté until tender
Blanch and Cook the Spinach
- Blanch the spinach in boiling water for about 10 seconds and then rinse in cold water
- Squeeze the spinach to get rid of excess water
- put in pan and season with a tablespoon of garlic and sesame oil
Blanch and Cook the Bean Sprouts
- Blanch the bean sprouts, then rinse them in cold water
- Squeeze out the extra water
- Put them in a pan and season with a tablespoon of garlic, sesame oil and salt
Cook the Mushrooms
- Slice all the mushrooms up
- Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil and sauté with garlic and sesame oil
Cook the Meat
- Sauté the meat in a pan on medium high heat until cooked; all of the liquid should disappear
Make an egg
- Make the egg however you like best, I recommend frying or a soft shell egg
Now all that’s left is assembling your plate. Put down the rice first and I like to arrange the veggies in a rainbow order with the meat and egg on top. Add the sauce and voila, time to enjoy!