What is bibimbap? Well, it is Korean comfort food consisting of hot steamed rice mixed with namul (seasoned vegetables), a fried egg, soy sauce and gochujang (hot chili paste). Some people add meat, usually bulgogi. In my family, we’ve added fried Spam, odeng (processed seafood cake) or sausages.
Typical bibimbap namul can range from kong namul (seasoned bean sprouts) sigeumchi namul (seasoned spinach), cucumber slices, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, gosari (fern bracken), but really any seasoned vegetable would work. Obviously, bibimbap can take on different taste and look depending on the ingredients used.
Bibimbap is, at least in our family, one of those everything-but-the-kitchen-sink recipe. We would make bibimbap usually when we had a bunch of left-over banchan (Korean side dishes, including namul). So, if we had kong namul, great. If we only had sigeumchi namul, OK. If we had left-over bulgogi, we added it, but we wouldn’t go out of the way to make meat for bibimbap.
When we didn’t have namuls readily available, a pared down bibimbap would consist shredded lettuce, and chopped kimchi. A really, really pared down bibimbap would just have fried egg and chopped kimchi. What made it a bibimbap to me was the hot rice, fried egg and the gochujang. We always added a pat of butter, too to just give it that divine buttery taste.
Here’s just one example of bibimbap. This one contains beech mushrooms, bean sprouts, spinach, chopped kimchi, and fern bracken. I could have made this more colorful by adding some julienned carrots.
The prep and cook time on this recipe is long because it includes the time to make namuls. If you have left-over namul, this could be made in 30 minutes.
Bibimbap (Rice Mixed with Vegetables)
Prep Time: 30 mins Cook Time: 40 mins
2 cups Korea rice, soaked 30 mins in cold water
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 package bean sprout
1 bunch or 1 bag of spinach
1 package Shiitake thinly sliced or beech mushrooms, halved
1 small carrot, optional
1 egg, fried sunny side up or over easy (my preferred method)
2 stalk scallion, chopped,
1/4 cup chopped cabbage kimchi, optional
gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 pat butter
crushed toasted sesame seeds
Rinse the rice a couple of times and put rice a rice cooker container. Using the hand method (it really is the only way I know how to measure water!), add water until it reaches the first knuckle of your middle finger. Set the rice cooker to ‘cook’. It should take about 20 minutes.
Next, prepare all the namuls. Rinse bean sprouts a few times and put them in a pot. Pour water until the sprouts are just covered. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 20 minutes. Drain water and mix it half of minced garlic, crushed sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and a dash of sesame oil.
Rinse spinach thoroughly if not bagged spinach and remove all dirt and grit. Put your spinach in a pot of boiling water, stir for 1 minute or until it just turns bright green. Drain immediately, rinse in cold water a few times and squeeze it gently to remove all excess water. Mix with a pinch of salt, rest of minced garlic, sesame seeds and sesame oil.
Sauté mushroom with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Season with some salt and sesame seeds and remove. Next sauté carrots until just tender, season with some salt and remove.
Fry the egg sunny side up or over easy.
Put your hot rice in a big bowl, add butter. Arrange all the ingredients, beans sprouts, spinach, mushroom, carrots, kimchi, scallion, on top of the rice with the egg in the middle (if you want to make a pretty presentation). Add gochujang, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sesame oil to your taste. With 4 cups of cooked rice, I usually add 2-3 tablespoons gochujang, 3-4 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and enjoy while hot.