It’s a popular children’s book (Bee Bim Bop by Linda Sue Park) and an even more popular Korean rice dish. Meaning “mixed rice,” this dish can be adjusted to suit your family’s taste.
Traditionally this dish is rice (“bap”) mixed with seasoned/sautéed vegetables and beef and an egg on top and hot pepper paste on the bottom. The vegetables are normally spinach, soybean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini. Once the dish arrives to you, you mix everything together, making sure to reach all the way to the bottom to mix in the hot pepper paste.
But the beauty of bi bim bap is that you can use whatever vegetables your family enjoys and the dish is just as tasty without the spicy hot pepper paste.
Bi bim bap is one of my favorites, and I used to order it all the time at our favorite Korean restaurant. Well, since we can’t afford to eat there every other day, I found I had to learn to cook this dish to satisfy my cravings. I use the recipe below, which I adjusted from the original that I found online. While it doesn’t appear to have been posted by a Korean cook, this recipe is very similar to the one served at our local restaurant. Note the original recipe is for two servings, so increase accordingly if you need to feed more than two people. And if you don’t have sesame oil, you should be able to find some in the Asian cooking aisle of your local grocery store (although it will be cheaper if you purchase it from an Asian grocer).
You can also find a bi bim bap recipe in the back of Park’s book and at Maangchi’s blog (address in column at right).
Bibimbap (serves 2)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ginger, grated
1/2 pound chicken, cubed or thinly sliced (can use beef or pork)
1 cup short grain rice (I make mine in the rice cooker)
1/2 c. zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 c. carrots, julienned
1/2 c. spinach
1/2 c. summer squash
(I often use already cut frozen veggies to cut down on prep time.)
1/4 c. red pepper paste
1. Combine the soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. of the sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and stir until coated. Marinade for 30 minutes. While marinading, cook the rice according to the instructions on the package or instructions for rice cooker.
2. Pour 1 Tbsp. sesame oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Start with the hardiest vegetable you’re using, and sautée until it’s a little tender. Continue adding veggies and cook it until all are tender, about 5 minutes or so.
3. Set a large skillet over high heat. When the skillet is very hot , add the chicken. Cook, stirring often until browned on all sides. Set aside.
4. If you’re using the optional eggs, pour 1 Tbsp. sesame oil into a skillet over medium heat. Crack the two eggs in and cook until the whites have set, but the yolk is still very runny. (Usually, we don’t use egg in our bi bim bap, or if I do, I cook an Korean egg pancake, then cut it into strips.)
5. Time to construct. First, put a mound of rice into a bowl. Add a spoonful of the veggie mixture on top, then add a layer of chicken. Top with egg, if you’re using it. Each person can add hot pepper paste to suit their taste, or omit it completely and the dish is still tasty.
Traditionally, you would cook all of your veggies separately and construct your bowls this way. First, add a mound of rice to a large bowl, then add a spoonful of each of ingredient around the edge of the bowl. Top with a fried egg. (In Korea, the hot pepper paste is usually in the bottom of the bowl.) When ready, break the yolk and mix the contents thoroughly.