by Karen on Monday, August 8, 2011

Post image for Bibimbap

Bibimbap is one of those dishes that makes that adage about eating with your eyes entirely true.  This classic Korean dish is a beautiful mélange of colorful fresh vegetables, a little bit of meat, and often topped with a bright runny fried egg and then mixed together with rice and deep red gochujang, a spicy red chili paste.  The result is a dynamic mess of a dish that is somehow gorgeous.

Bibimbap is quintessential Korean home cooking and is very simple to make at home.  Versions of bibimbap differ from region to region in Korea and from household to household.  A popular one is dolsot bibimbap where the vegetables and rice are served in a very hot stone pot creating a lovely crust.

A couple of unique ingredients I love to use in bibimbap is gosari or fern bracken and ggaennip or perilla leaves.  Gosari grows in wet forests and is typically sold dried.  After being reconstituted, it's cooked making it pliable and tender.  It has a unique light and grassy flavor and fibrous texture.  Perilla, also called sesame leaves (which have no relation to sesame), is a thin herbaceous leaf that has a very strong anise and mint flavor that varies depending on its size.  Perilla leaves are often enjoyed raw, but are also picked and eaten as a side dish.  In Japan the same plant leaf is called shiso and is used widely to add flavor to dishes.

For this bibimbap, I put together a vegetarian version by omitting the beef, however you could substitute with tofu as well.  The array of vegetables is really the highlight for me, so I find the beef unnecessary and still absolutely delicious without it!

Serves 4

– 2 small Korean zucchini, julienned
– 1 package of soybean sprouts (around 1 lb)
– 1 large bunch of spinach
– 1 large carrot, julienned
– 1 bundle of kosari, prepared.  This can be found in any Korean market.  If you are using dried ones, soak in water for at least 8 hours before using
– 7-10 leaves of ggaennip thinly sliced, also called sesame leaves or perilla leaves.  They're also sold in Korean markets.
– 4 eggs, cooked sunny side up and runny
– 8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin, dried or fresh
– Pot of cooked rice, about 3-4 cups.  I love using mixed wild rice, which there is a great selection of at Korean markets.
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– soy sauce
– sesame oil
– vegetable oil
– kosher or sea salt

Start cooking the rice, in a pot or rice cooker.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in the soybean sprouts and cook for about 20 minutes or until tender and translucent.  Drain well and toss with 1 clove of minced garlic, a big pinch of salt and drizzle of sesame oil.

Bring the pot of water back to a boil (no need to change the water) and boil the spinach for a couple minutes until wilted.  Drain and press the spinach against the colander so you get all the water out.  Add 1 clove of minced garlic, a big pinch of salt and drizzle of sesame oil.

Put the zucchini in a bowl and add a pinch of salt to them and toss.  This will let out a bit of water and after a few minutes, lightly squeeze excess water out.  In a large pan, heat up a bit of oil and sautee the zucchini until tender.  Add another pinch of salt to the zucchini after it is cooked and set aside.

Add a little more oil in and sautee the mushrooms until tender.  Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil halfway through cooking.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add more oil to the pan and sautee carrots for a couple minutes just until slightly tender and transfer to a plate.

To cook the kosari, chop the fern into 1-2 inch pieces and sautee in some oil and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.  Drizzle with sesame oil and transfer to a plate.

Lastly, fry the eggs sunny side up in some oil and make sure to leave the yolk a little runny.

Assemble your bibimbap by placing a small handful of each ingredient in a circle with the egg in the center.

I usually serve the rice on the side in a small bowl.  Add the rice into the plate of vegetables and toss with a small spoonful of gochujang, depending on how hot you like it!

(Recipe adapted from Maangchi)



Sarah August 8, 2011 at 6:38 am

I LOVe bibimbap but never thought to make it at home…until now! Excited to try this recipe.

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

Thanks Sarah- hope you do soon!

la domestique August 8, 2011 at 7:52 am

I love the way this dish is presented! It’s nice to enjoy each vegetable on its own, and the flavors sound delicious. Great post!

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

It truly is a celebration of vegetables!

Lan August 8, 2011 at 8:12 am

i enjoy bibimbap, i love the presentation of it in the HOT clay pot and add the sauce to it — it’s like a deconstructed fried rice. if this were to be made like in the restaurants, do you cook everything all separate (except for the egg), assemble in the claypot, crack the egg on top and broil it in the oven?

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:12 am

I’m not sure how dolsot bibimbap would be prepared as I’ve never made it before. But I believe the pot is heated and then the rice and cooked veggies go in and then the egg right on top mixed in quickly to cook it through. MM hungry just talking about it!

H August 16, 2011 at 12:12 am

Hi, I’m Korean so I can answer that.
When making dolsot bibimbap, we cook rice in dolsot (clay pot). And then put the rest of the ingredients.
That way, it keeps the dish warm throughout the meal and also makes ‘nooroongji’ which is made at the bottom of the sizzling hot dolsot.
It is basically harden rice, so crunchy and also can be chewy. Some people love it so much so that they make it on purpose.
And also by pouring water in dolsot, you can make noorongji soup, ‘sungnyung’.
Hope this can help 😉

patricia August 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

after soon tofu (will you be making this one day?!), bibimbap is my all time favourite comfort winter/summer food (korean or non-korean). :]

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

O definitely! Sundubu is one of my favs– up there with bibimbap… when the weather gets cold enough 🙂

deana August 8, 2011 at 9:15 am

I don’t know why I find that name so adorable… like a fairytale character or something… it is adorable. The dish looks delicious and perfect for the weather these days!

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:15 am

It is such a cute name, even more fun to say! Thanks Deana

Valerie August 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Ahhhhh YUM!! One of my new fav pics too… wowza.

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thanks Valy 🙂

Joyti August 9, 2011 at 3:01 am

This looks so delicious!
Seems that most bibimbap recipes involve beef (which I dont eat), this version works so much better for me. And I also presumed I need the heavy granite/stone bowl for bibimbap…so I’ve never tried it. I’m definitely going to have to hunt down the ingredients and do this – soon.

Karen August 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

Thanks Joyti! Yes I eat meat but I feel the beef gets totally lost in this dish and not necessary so makes a great vegetarian dish. The stone pot is really only necessary for dolsot bibimbap which is the hot version. The stone pot you see in my photo is actually for making rice which I love using when I don’t want to whip out the big ol rice cooker. But of course you can make rice any way you want in this recipe (stove top, cooker…)

Lentil Breakdown August 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Gorgeous and exotic as usual! Did you score the surface of that shiitake for a reason or did it come that way?

Karen August 10, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Thanks! no it just came that way– beautiful huh?

tasteofbeirut August 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I know nothing when it comes to Korean food and this dish would be one I would love to be introduced to this cuisine!

Karen August 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Well I hope you explore!

Ashley February 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm

They actually served this to us on the plane to Korea! Didn’t look nearly as delicious as yours!

Gene July 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Please Note !
In the Bibimbap, the use of Bracken fern (kosari) may be detrimental to ones health. The fern is quite carcinogenic and has been directly attributed to stomach cancer. Korean food is already high in salt, msg, sugar and fermented vegetables whose affect on stomach cancer is currently being studied. Bracken is used in Japan and has been linked to the pathology of this horrible disease. My father-in-law was a great lover of this fern and has recently passed away due to stomach cancer.

Mon Petit Chou November 9, 2012 at 11:40 am

I love dolsot bibimbap. Thank you thank you for this recipe!


Eric November 22, 2012 at 10:14 am

The pictures you took of the dish look excellent – really nice presentation. Thanks for sharing this.

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