THE easy way to make Bibimbap, the classic Korean rice dish, is to buy your favorite kim chees and pickled vegetables, arrange them atop rice and add a fried egg.
Prepared from scratch, it's a bit tedious, but packed with fresh vegetables, and you can use whatever you have handy -- in fact it was designed as a way to use leftovers.
This recipe is from Jenny Kwak's "Dok Suni: Recipes from My Mother's Korean Kitchen" (St. Martin's Press, 1998, $27.50), and is for Kristan Fury, who has been searching for a Bibimbap recipe. It's intimidating just by sheer length, but if you use it just as a guide to preparing whatever vegetables you have on hand, it becomes much more manageable.
Bibimbap2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)Season vegetables separately and set aside, as follows:
2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1-1/4 cups shredded daikon
1-1/8 cups soybean or bean sprouts, blanched
Seasoned spinach (recipe follows)
8 ounces cheong-po or firm tofu, cut in strips (see note)
1 cup shredded and blanched carrots
2 cups coarsely chopped romaine lettuce
4 eggs, raw or fried
8 cups cooked white rice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
Red Pepper Sauce:
2 tablespoons chile pepper paste
1/8 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
10 ounces lean beef, minced and tenderized
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1/8 teaspoon each crushed garlic and pepper
1 teaspoon each sesame oil and sugar
Zucchini: Mix with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and a pinch each of garlic and salt. Saute lightly.
Cucumbers and daikon: Season both with 1 teaspoon rice vinegar and a pinch each salt and garlic. Keep separate.
Sprouts: Toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and a pinch each salt and garlic.
Season tofu with 1/2 teaspoon each sesame oil and soy sauce.
To make pepper sauce: Combine ingredients, using a wooden spoon. Set aside.
To make optional beef: Mix ingredients thoroughly, then saute until browned.
To assemble: Divide rice into 4 bowls. Place equal portions of the seasoned vegetables, spinach, tofu, carrots, beef and lettuce on top of rice. Top with egg and serve with pepper sauce on the side. Serves 4.
Note: Cheong-po is like tofu, but made with mung beans instead of soy beans. If unavailable, substitute tofu.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, without beef: 790 calories, 16 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 210 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,000 mg sodium. With beef: 910 calories, 20 g total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 260 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,500 mg sodium.*
(Seasoned Spinach)2 cups fresh spinachDissolve salt in boiling water and blanch spinach no more than 1 minute, turning once. Strain immediately and rinse. Set aside.
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 scant teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon each sesame oil, sesame salt, crushed garlic
1/8 teaspoon minced scallion
Combine sauce ingredients, then add spinach and toss.
Makes 4 small servings.
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
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Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.