September 26, 2010 by Dana
The results are in… and I made it to round 2 of Project Food Blog! A big THANK YOU to everyone that voted for me! I guess all of my bribery talent paid off ;)
For this challenge, my instructions were to create “an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with.” Sounds easy enough. Just pick a cuisine from any place on the map that you’re not as familiar with, do a little research, and get cooking. Can’t narrow it down? Too many places to choose from? Just spin the globe! The world’s your oyster! Right?
Wrong. That may work for some people. In fact, that may even work for most people. But for me, the very definition of a mutt, picking a cuisine that I was unfamiliar with was not as easy as it sounds. I have family from all over the globe. And let me tell you, this family can eat. Food = love, and we have a lot of love to give. Which means that I am well versed in cuisines from SO MANY cultures.
- Mediterranean? Check. No one beats my grandma’s avgolemono soup.
- Jewish? Check. My mom’s matzoh balls are hands down the best.
- Middle Eastern? Check. My stepmom is sure to fill me up with kofta and warm pita every time I visit.
- Levantine? Check. My great-grandmother was famous for her delicious tebouleh.
- Pizza? Check. Ok, so maybe that’s not a cuisine. And maybe I’m not Italian. But living in NY, I am certainly well versed in the art of ordering a mean pizza. Or Chinese… Indian… Thai… Mexican… You get the idea.
So I sat down and thought long and hard about where I wanted to travel for this challenge. Where in the world I wanted to go that would be completely new to me. Somewhere with a classic dish with which I had no prior experience. A dish that I couldn’t pull out my folder of take-out menus and have delivered in 20 minutes.
And it finally came to me. I would go to Korea. And lucky for me, they have this classic signature dish: Bibimbap.
Bibimbap is a mixed rice dish. The rice is topped with sautéed mixed vegetables, possibly a raw or lightly cooked egg, and sometimes beef, chicken, fish, or tofu. There is, apparently, no “right” list of ingredients. Everyone seems to have their own authentic version. I took elements of each recipe that I found, while still keeping the integrity of the dish, to create my version of Bibimbap.
1 cup short-grain rice
1 medium zucchini, julienned, in 2-inch lengths
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus 1 pinch
4 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup bean sprouts
1 teaspoon dried hot chili flakes
1 cup packed spinach leaves
1/4 cup peeled and julienned carrot, in 2-inch lengths
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup Kochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
This version of Bibimbap is technically Dolsot Bibimbap. Dolsots are Korean stone bowls, which are heated to a very high temperature before adding the rice and other ingredients. The ingredients, including the egg, keep cooking as you serve the dish, and make a great sizzling sound as you stir the ingredients together.
1. Preheat oven to 425º F, and place four Korean stone bowls (dolsots) in the oven.
2. Cook rice according to directions on package. Set aside.
3. While rice cooks, place another medium pot of water over high heat to bring to a boil. Blanch zucchini in boiling water for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove zucchini from water and drain well. (Keep water boiling for later use.)
4. Place a skillet over medium heat, and add 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 clove minced garlic. Add zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds. Sauté 2 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside. Wipe out pan and return to medium heat.
5. Add 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 clove minced garlic of minced garlic to hot skillet. Add mushrooms, a pinch of salt and soy sauce. Sauté 2 minutes, remove from heat, and set aside.
6. Place bean sprouts in the boiling water until wilted, about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the colander to drain. Place sprouts in a bowl, and toss with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, hot chili flakes, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
7. Blanch carrots in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately rinse with cold water. Drain well. Set aside.
8. Add spinach to the pot of boiling water and blanch until it wilts and turns bright green, about 30 seconds. Drain into the colander, rinse well with cold water until chilled, then drain, squeezing out excess water. Transfer to a bowl and add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds. Mix well and set aside.
9. To make the sauce, combine the Kochujang (red pepper paste), ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, honey, 1/2 teaspoon oil, and the remaining clove of minced garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.
10. In a small frying pan, cook eggs sunny side up, leaving the yolk runny (it will finish cooking later in the hot bowl).
11. Remove the Dolsots (stone bowls) from the oven, and transfer to a heat resistant surface. Brush each bowl with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil to coat. Divide the rice into the bowls, and gently pack to the bottom (the rice will sizzle as you go). Arrange the vegetables in separate sections over each potion of rice. Immediately before serving , add one egg to each bowl.
12. While bowl is still very hot, use oven mits to transfer each bowl to the table. (Be very careful!!) Serve with the prepared Kochujang sauce on the side. Mix well and enjoy!
I absolutely loved making (and eating!) this dish! There is really a LOT to love about Bibimbap, and it’s no surprise that it is a staple in Korea. The presentation is beautiful, the spicy flavors are delicious, and hearing the sizzle of the oil against the hot stone as you’re serving it is pretty cool :)
For those of you that are wondering, you can get the Dolsot stone bowls at any Korean grocery store. (You can also use a cast iron skillet or dish for a similar effect.) I found mine at H-Mart in Flushing, Queens for about $18. It’s more than I would typically spend on a bowl, but I wanted to get the most authentic effect of the hot oil frying the bottom layer of the rice to make a crunchy crust. It turned out to be a great investment, because I will definitely be making this again!!!