A real favorite when growing up in Hong Kong was the Arirang Korean BBQ restaurant. Long time gone, but replaced with thousands of similar Korean BBQ restaurants all over the the world. Aside the meats and vegetables, Bibimbap, or mixed rice as we foreigners know it, is well revered by those who enjoy Korean food. One is never enough and two is waaayyyyyy to much.
Bibimbap is rice mixed with vegetables, bean sprouts, spinach , carrots, courgettes and kimchee to be precise. Typically a little fried beef is added and a spicy chilli paste called Gochujang all topped with a fried egg or sometime raw yolk. Sounds exotic…..well it is and its absolutely to die for.
The base of the dish is piping hot steamed sticky rice. Sticky in the nature of the rice, not the way many actually cook it! I use sushi rice or something similar, but not basmati or jasmine, as they are all too loose and not sticky enough.
Bean sprouts are blanched in boiling water for a few minuted then refreshed in cold water. Drain and squeeze all the liquid out of the sprouts. In a bowl, mix finely chopped garlic, chilli, spring onions, lots of sesame oil, rice vinegar and a good pinch of salt. Mix well with the sprouts, top with toasted sesame seeds and set aside. Important to note, don’t use the Chinese or other sesame oil products, but search out for Korean sesame oil. They are chalk and cheese and the Korean product is so much mild and palatable.
Baby English spinach is blanched in boiling water for about 20 seconds then refreshed in cold water. Drain and squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach and chop coarsely. In a separate bowl, mix finely chopped garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy-sauce and a small pinch of salt. Mix well with the spinach, to with toasted sesame seeds and set aside.
Finely julienne some carrots and courgettes. In a hot pan fry these vegetables till they are just starting to soften. Set aside and allow to cool.
Basically we are now ready to assemble the mixed rice dish. Now there are a number of permutations here, some put the rice straight into a serving bowl, while others serve it it in a piping-hot earthenware bowl.
So rice in the bottom, spinach and sprouts adorn the outer edges as does the carrot and courgettes. Add kimchee quantities to your liking and a good dollop of the Gochujang. Don’t be scared by the chilli paste, it really is quite mild and does impart a unique flavour. Finally the cooked beef in the middle and a soft-yolk fired egg site proudly on top.