Growing up, the only Korean dish I knew how to make was instant ramyun. Boil some water, empty the seasoning packet and noodles into the pot and in a few minutes, your meal is ready. Easy peasy! Sometimes, I would add in sliced onions or scallions. On special occasions I’d add in pieces of hot dog and crack in an egg! Fancy! As I got older, I realized this kind of cooking wasn’t going to cut it. I told myself if I’m going to marry a nice Korean man, I need to learn how to make excellent Korean food… perhaps that’s why I married an Irishman! HAHA. I’m being silly… but seriously, I’m constantly learning new recipes and it’ll be some time before my Korean cooking is excellent! 😉
I never really learned how to make classic Korean dishes properly. I sort of just experimented on my own living in Italy. Sure I called my mom for some guidance, but trying to learn recipes from a Korean mother is a little (too) frustrating for me. They don’t measure anything and I feel like every ingredient is optional. ‘Add in some peppers if you have them, if you don’t it’s ok.’ ‘Don’t add in too much water at the start, but if you do, it’s ok.’ “Grate in some apple. You don’t have apples? Use pears. No pears? Use kiwis. No kiwis? Well, it’s ok then.’ ‘This broth needs more salt. Or maybe it doesn’t. But you can add more if you want, but this will do too.’ So what is it mom – does it need more salt or not?! AHHH I’m so confused! She may not be a good teacher, but she’s a great cook. Her food is AMAZING! I tell her all the time that she has Mash It Neun Sohn, literally tasty hands, because everything she makes is so delicious. I’m convinced that one day, my Korean cooking will be just as amazing and I will surprise my mom with an elaborate Korean feast fit for kings. One day Lisbeth, one day! For now, I’m not going to kid myself, Americanized Lisbeth style Korean dishes will do. 😉
Have you ever tried Bibimbop? Bibimbop is a mixed rice dish, similar to Hwae Dup Bop. You take a bowl of rice and top it with Na Meul (seasoned vegetables), marinated beef, a fried egg with runny yolk, Cho Go Chu Jang (seasoned spicy red pepper sauce), and sesame oil. Then you mix everything together. Dol Sot Bibimbop is the same thing but served in a hot Dol Sot, or stone pot. I prefer it in the hot stone pot because it crisps up the rice on the bottom of the bowl. I save the crunchy rice for the very end. It’s fantastic!
This is Dol Sot Bibimbop from Lighthouse Tofu in Ellicott City, MD.
Now, have you heard of Poor Man’s Bibimbop? Poor Man’s Bibimbop is what I call Bibimbop you make when you don’t have all the ingredients or time to make a proper one. You can use whatever vegetables and ingredients you have on hand. I make this dish when I don’t have much to cook or eat at home or when I don’t know what to make. Usually on these occasions, I won’t have any meat in the fridge. That’s how I came up with the name. I do, however, have plenty of canned tuna in the house, so I use that instead. For the version I created below I used carrots, French beans, salad greens and onion. I cut them into small pieces and stir fried them together in a mix of olive and sesame oils.
I make Cho Go Chu Jang by mixing some Go Chu Jang (red pepper paste), sugar, water, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Some people use Sprite or 7Up instead of water to give it extra sweetness and flavor.
Place steamed white rice in a large bowl. Drizzle on some sesame oil. Top with stir fried vegetables.
Top on the salad greens over the rice and stir fried vegetables.
Top with some canned tuna. I use Ortiz brand, but they can be a bit pricey. Any brand tuna will do.
I used 3 eggs in this large bowl. Fry the eggs in a pan on low heat. You want the yolk to be runny. Now add the eggs on top.
Pour over some Cho Go Chu Jang sauce on top. Remember to add sauce little at a time so you don’t over season your dish. You can always add more, but you can’t take away if you start off with too much.
Mix everything together. These ingredients together made enough for 4 servings. We divided it up into smaller individual bowls. Sometimes if we’re watching a film or a program on the tellie, we just grab 2 spoons and eat it out of the mixing bowl.
You can find Bibimbop on every Korean menu. It’s a classic! If you wanted to make it at home, Asian/Korean markets will have pre-packaged seasoned vegetables and sauce for Bibimbop in the Ban Chan section. All you need to do is make the rice. Or do what I do and try making your own version of Poor Man’s Bibimbop with the ingredients you have around the house. You can use any vegetables – zucchini, squash, carrots, mushrooms, onions, scallions, french beans, spinach, whatever you have available.
Let me know what you think of this dish in the comment section below. Follow me on facebook and twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog. Happy Eating!