The other night I went to dinner with a few friends at a Korean restaurant, downtown DC (which is, by the way, where I live!). They took me to this place called Mandu. Turns out, I had been before...on a first date. But on the date I didn't focus on the food at all...I was way too nervous and concentrated on finding things to talk about! I wish I would have though, especially considering how the date went. The food was great! My friends introduced me first to an Aloe Sojutini (a Korean Martini), which was incredibly refreshing and delicious - a must try! Then they insisted that I get this dish called Bibimbap for my entree. Bibimbap reminds me of a Korean fried rice. I like fried rice and I trusted their judgement - and could not ignore the way they raved about it. They were right! It was delicious. This is what it should look like (sorry that this pciture does not really do the dish justice):
So good that I had to recreate it for myself. So after rolling out of bed this morning, I went to Whole Foods to get everything I needed for the dish...and maybe a few extra things (I can't walk in there and not spend more than I need to)! I had a few staples: sesame seed oil, carrots, salt, eggs and Sriracha Hot Sauce (definitely a staple for those that love spicy food). Things I had to buy:
The only thing that I could not recreate was the hot stone bowl. At the restaurant, the entire dish was served in this hot bowl which continued to cook the rice, making it crunchy....mmm! I, unfortunately, do not own stone bowls! I am sure I could eventually figure out another way to mimic the idea though. Anyway, I just decided I would live without crunchy rice...it was still going to be delicious (at least, I hoped!). To begin, I prepared the rice. I used Thai Jasmine rice, but I think any white rice would work well. Sadly, rice is not my specialty. I am really just not good with rice. And of course, I managed to burn it, but luckily, not enough to ruin it. Wheww!
Then it was on to preparing the vegetables. I used an entire bag, figuring that a) it would cook down to about a cup and b) too many veggies can't hurt and c) I need lunch for work tomorrow! I sautéed the entire bag, 2 tsp. of sesame seed oil and a few shakes of salt and few sesame seeds.
While my spinach was cooking down, I started grating a few carrots. I could have probably saved myself the trouble and bought grated carrots, but I didn't. In fact, I was even stuck grating baby carrots. Oh well.
I managed. I then sautéed the carrots in the same pan I used for the spinach, using the leftover sesame seed oil. Then I prepared the bean sprouts. I used about 1.5 cups and added some sesame seed oil (I hate measuring..and rarely do so...I apologize), salt and sesame seeds. Just eyeball it. You can do it..trust me.
Also, I put the bean sprouts in the microwave for a minute once I mixed everything together. I wanted them to be warm when I added them to the dish. After the sprouts, I sautéed the shiitake mushrooms (these are my favorite part), like everything else, in the same pan with the leftover sesame seed oil. Almost there....
For the zucchini, I did some more grating. However, grating a zucchini is much easier than baby carrots. You are less likely to grate your fingers! Always a plus. And then...take a wild guess...thats right, sauté...
Tofu is not necessarily a traditional Bibimbap ingredient; beef is the most common. At the restaurant, I had pork, and loved it. However, they did offer the option of Tofu...so I thought I would test it out. Tofu can be tricky; no matter the firmness, it always manages to fall apart on me. I used it anyway. I used approximately 1 cup of Tofu, cut into small cubes. I put it in the pan with some sesame seed oil, salt and sesame seeds. It went from this:
To this, aka, started to turn brown on all sides:
The only thing left that requires the pan is the egg, which adds the perfect touch to this dish. An over easy egg is quick and easy. The runny yolk mixes with all the ingredients and gives the dish the "fried rice" feeling.
And we're done with the pan! The last step is to make the spicy red sauce. Bibimbap usually comes with a red pepper paste. I could not find any spicy pastes at Whole Foods. Maybe I didn't look hard enough? Instead, I mixed together about 1 Tbsp. of Sriracha hot sauce and 1 Tsp. of sesame seed oil and added some salt. It did the trick!
Just sprinkle as much sauce as you want on top...depending on how much spice you can handle! I prefer a lot...
Mix everything all together and there you have it...Bibimbap! I have to say...I did a good job. You should try it!
First recipe on my food blog..CHECK!