Monday, November 10, 2014

Bibimbap - Korean fried rice

Ever had Bibimbap before? It's a dish from Korea that I recently started to crave. I guess I was first intrigued by gochujang - a fermented chili and soy paste that Koreans use as the sauce and to flavor the rice. Bibimbap includes different proteins and carbs that provide texture and excitement all in one dish. Some vegetables are cooked while some are raw. It's a feast in a bowl and I love that. 

The way it's served at restaurants is with the vegetables and protein cooked separately and arranged in mounds over the top of rice that's slightly crispened at the bottom. A friend who spent some years in Korea said that when the server brings it to the table, asks if they'd like it to be mixed, and if so, then breaks the runny egg yolk and tears through the different components in a crazy fashion so that all the elements are thoroughly united. I appreciate this bit of theater!

It's comforting and satisfying. You can take a trip to the Asian market for gochujang or I find that Sriracha mixed with miso would lend a similar flavor. You can use whatever combination of veg you have lying around. I used steamed pumpkin instead of raw carrots because it's the season! You can even cook all the vegetables together instead of these separate processes to make it easier. Just try to add different textures and you're golden!

Inspired by Babaganuj and this awesome video!
Serves 4

1 1/4 cup / 2 1/2 dl brown rice, soaked for an hour if possible
2 3/4 cups / 5 1/2 dl water
1/4 tsp / tsk salt

250 g extra firm tofu
2 tsp / tsk soy sauce
1 tsp / tsk sambal oelek
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp / tsk ginger, grated
3 tsp / tsk raps oil
1/2 tbs potato or corn starch

150 g baby spinach
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper

100 g enoki mushrooms
40 g shiitake mushrooms, soaked 30 minutes
1 tsp / tsk raps oil
1 tsp mirin or white vinegar
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup / 1 dl gochujang (or 2 tbs / msk Sriracha with 3 tbs / msk miso)
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
1 tbs / msk toasted sesame oil

1 cup / 2 dl steamed pumpkin or raw carrots, chopped
100 g / 2 cups mung bean sprouts, blanched
A fried egg per person
1/4 cup / 1/2 dl black and white sesame seeds, toasted

1. Squeeze out as much water from the tofu as possible. Cut into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, mix soy sauce, sambal, oil, ginger and garlic and then mix in the tofu. Allow to marinate for 30-60 minutes if possible. Then preheat the oven to 400F or 200C. Mix in the potato starch with the tofu and spread onto a greased pan. Bake for 15 minutes and once golden, turn off the oven and allow to sit in the hot oven while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. Boil the rice in water and salt until the water is almost evaporated, then turn the heat to low and cook with the lid on for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to rest for another 10 minutes.

3. In a pan, heat oil with garlic and once it's fragrant, add your washed spinach. Cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

4. In another pan, sauté the mushrooms in oil and once cooked, add the mirin, salt and pepper.

5. In a blender or food processor, blend the gochujang with the sesame oil, onion and garlic until smooth. Taste for salt.

6. Assembly: In a bowl*, add a serving of rice to the bottom along with a tablespoon of sauce. Mix well. Then assemble with different colored veg over the top along with the tofu and a fried egg. Serve with extra sauce on the top or side. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Mix all with a spoon and then Enjoy!

Note: Traditionally this dish is served in a heat-proof bowl that's put on the stove just before serving to crispen the bottom of the rice and also warm all the vegetables. I didn't have a heat-proof dish but think the process would have lent some pleasurable crispy bits of rice.

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