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Chris Amirault

Bibimbap--Cook-off 14

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Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.

For our fourteenth Cook-Off, we're making bibimbap.

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Aficionados of Korean food and cooking are well aware of this famous dish, but many who have not had the pleasure might find this a surprising cook-off selection. Folks, I'm here to tell you that everyone should bring this remarkable dish into their repertoire.

What is bibimbap, you ask? In a previous thread devoted to the subject, Jinmyo offered this typically inimitable explanation:

To "bibim" is to "stir together" vegetable or meat toppings with boiled calrose rice ("bap"). There are innumberable varities of bibimbap but the most popular are perhaps those that use a dolsot or stone bowl which is heated on the burner until a few grains of rice dropped into it crackle. Fill the bowl about two thirds full of rice. Add kimchee, chopped scallion, deep fried tofu, some steamed greens or perhaps microgreens, some red chile powder or threads. Crack an egg on top or lay a very lightly fried egg atop. A sprinkle of gomasio is nice. You can mix gochujang chile paste into the vegetables or serve it on the side.

Carefully lift the very hot bowl and put it on the tray it was purchased with.

Now, bibim your bap.

Panchan or side dishes such as manduk (gyoza), japchae (vegetables with cellophane noodles), kimbap (maki of various kinds), and a few other kinds of kimchee such as kkakdugi (diced daikon kimchee) go nicely.

True, some ingredients (the pickles known as kimchee and the red pepper paste known as gojuchang) may be a bit tricky for you to find, but we can summon up some possible substitutes. No special equipment is absolutely necessary, though if you have one of the stone or metal cook bowls known as dolsots, you'll want to use that. Like cassoulet, bibimbap inspires many debates about authenticity and regionalism, which means that the neophyte can experiment with great flexibility and still claim some amount of technical merit! :biggrin:

Finally and as always, the eGullet Society is chock-a-block full of experts ready to share ideas and recipes for the various components of this dish, not only on the thread referenced above (click the little pink box in the quotation) but also here, here, and here, with a kimchee thread here and a kochuchang thread here. So turn on your rice cookers and get your beef a-marinating -- and if you have any soju handy, get it damned cold!

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Awesome. To get the party started, here is one in a dolsot

gallery_8505_1301_69921.jpg

gallery_8505_1301_19561.jpg

I'll be interested to hear about the uber-traditional components as well as the more common ones. I've had this dish many times in NYC Korean restaurants, and will admit to being surprised to read in these forums that an "authentic bibimbap" is supposed to have certain ingredients, since I've had it in so many different variations.

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Mmmm....can't wait to see pictures. Bibimbap is one of my all time favorite meals!

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I am definitely in on this one! and I know I can't mess this one up... :hmmm:

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will there be recipes included? my gf loves bimibap and I'd love to make it for her..

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Same here, Wendy. In fact, I had never heard of it, pre-eG. I have to cook this because it is so pretty, if for no other reason!

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I've never had this so I will be following along. Step one, please tell me how to pronounce it!

Bih-Bihm-bahp. Short vowels throughout. I think.

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I've got a question:

How important is the dolsot to the success of the bibimbap?

I think I already know the answer - I've tried making bibimbap in an iron skillet, and it was OK but just not quite "right".

I'm going to look for a dolsot at the asian grocery in Cleveland next time I'm there. In the mean time, am I wasting my time with the iron skillet?

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I've got a question:

How important is the dolsot to the success of the bibimbap?

I think I already know the answer - I've tried making bibimbap in an iron skillet, and it was OK but just not quite "right".

I'm going to look for a dolsot at the asian grocery in Cleveland next time I'm there. In the mean time, am I wasting my time with the iron skillet?

You don't need it all, plenty of variations on bibimbap are served in just regular bowls. I never use a dolsot at home and I rarely order that version in restaurants as I prefer te non-dolsot version.

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But isn't it the dolsot which makes the rice at the bottom all crispy? I love that part of this dish.

That wouldn't make it essential, of course, but it would perhaps be a good motivating force for people to try and find a substitute. Can this dish be done with some other kind of stone bowl?

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My understanding is that dolsot bibimbap is merely an extra (albeit very nice) twist on the basic bibimbap recipe. Hence the designation dolsot. Sometimes I'm in the mood for dolsot, sometimes I just want it plain. (Especially when it's hot out.)

You can get some crispy rice by making rice in a pot the persian way so that it develops a crust. It's a cheat, but good if you don't feel like acquiring a bunch of extra bowls...

Lucky for me, there are a bunch of places near my department that serve it for lunch. :wink:

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My understanding is that dolsot bibimbap is merely an extra (albeit very nice) twist on the basic bibimbap recipe.

This is what I always thought too. here in Japan the non-dolsot version is by far the more popular. Some places will offer both though. I guess I prefer it more at room temperature, the dolsot version are always too hot to eat. :angry:

When I make it at home I even let teh rice cool down a bit in the bowls before I top it.

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I've also found that you can get the desired effect with a non-stick skillet. Heat it on medium-high, add a tablespoon or two of peanut oil, and then add a thick layer of cooked rice right from the machine. Shake the skillet repeatedly, especially during the first few minutes, and check the bottom occasionally; when it's a bit brown in spots, you'll get that crunchy layer, and you can slide the whole sheebang into your big bowl for the rest of the goodies.

Speaking of which: does anyone want to offer a recipe?

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don't let my mom see this thread. she'll send you all threatening pm's about how your assimilation of korean food is destroying our culture.

i'm actualy going over to my aprents this thanksgiving for dinner. i think we're having bibimbap. i'll try and get some photos.

and just to clarify dolsot is just one type of bibimbap. dolsot is 2 words. dol (rock) and sot (bowl or container). so dolsot bibimbap is bibimbap served in a stone bowl but just bibimbap is bibimbap in a normal bowl. there's also gkook bibimbap which is basically bibimbap with a little soup or broth poured into it

jhlurie, you can use a small cast iron skillet to get that crispy affect.

chris as far as recipes go i think the base is basically the rice, a sunny side up egg (or raw egg if you're making dolsot bibimbap), and you gojujang (hot bean paste), and then a mixture of vegetable (marinated preferably) and some bool goki (beef marinated in soy sauce). my mom usually adds marinated bean sprouts, marinated spinach, spicy pickled daikon radish, julienne carrots, marinated fiddle heads and marinated zucchini. even if you're not having gook bibimbap, it's typical to have some soup with it. usually teng jang (sorta like korean style miso) soup.


Edited by chef koo (log)

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I never had bibimbap, but it does look very pretty and I would love to try it.

Questions!

It seems that with a dish like this, it is very important how all the different elements taste. I think Torakris mentioned in another thread that all the vegetables need to be seasoned and marinated seperately. Are there any recipes for that?

I can get kimchi (jarred or in a can) in my toko, not sure about the kochuchang (which seems to spelled differently in every post :smile: ) What is that (so that I know what to look for?)

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Bibimbap is one of my favorite Korean foods (among several). I won't be participating in this cookoff in the foreseeable future, but I'm already enjoying the photos and discussion, and I might go to a good New York Korean restaurant and take photos of the bibimbap there at some point. My subjective point of view is that it's very important to mix all the ingredients well, and that some crispy rice is essential to a fully satisfying experience. Then again, I'm not familiar with gkook bibimbap. Chef Koo, does that also include some crispy rice?

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chufi the seasoning and marinading of the vegetables is different for all the vegetables but basically look it in the way of a sandwich. there's a recipe for mayonaise, there's a recipe for the ham, the mustard so on and so forth. and for alomost all those elements they can be readily made and bought at a market. same with the elements of bibimbap. but if you can't find it basically lightly cook the vegetables and cool them down. then marinade them in salt, finely chopped green onion, sesame seeds and a tiny bit of sesame oil. and don't worry about the spelling. it's a korean word so spelt in english, as long as it fo-in-eh-tically spelt it's fine.

pan it can be crispy depending on wether it's dolsot bibimbap or not. as long as it has a little soup or broth poured on it it's gook bibimbap


Edited by chef koo (log)

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but if you can't find it basically lightly cook the vegetables and cool them down. then marinade them in salt, finely chopped green onion, sesame seeds and a tiny bit of sesame oil.

So, if I'm understanding correctly, the rice is served hot and the vegetables are cold? What about the beef?

Another question - about the rice.

What kind of rice should I use and what's the preferred method of cooking it? The only rice I have in the house is basmati, and risotto rice - I presume I need something else for this :smile:

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Medium grain calrose is the one that was recommended to me, but I was also told that other rices, including brown rice, could be used. Just don't tell chef koo's umma!

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but if you can't find it basically lightly cook the vegetables and cool them down. then marinade them in salt, finely chopped green onion, sesame seeds and a tiny bit of sesame oil.

So, if I'm understanding correctly, the rice is served hot and the vegetables are cold? What about the beef?

Another question - about the rice.

What kind of rice should I use and what's the preferred method of cooking it? The only rice I have in the house is basmati, and risotto rice - I presume I need something else for this :smile:

The vegetables are room temp, the beef should be hot.

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How is the beef cooked? Is this dish a candidate for leftover meat?

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How is the beef cooked? Is this dish a candidate for leftover meat?

It depends on the household, but in my mom's house she just seasoned with pepper soy sauce and sugar and stir fried it up fast. And you can definitely use this dish as a vehicle for leftover meat.

If any of you people live near a Korean market you can do the lazy thing I do, and just buy prepackaged bibimbap veggies and they'll have a little plastic container of preseasoned kochujang in it along with the veggies. Also, you can just buy premade bulgogi and fry it up at home in a cast iron skillet.

In this pic you can see the prepackaged bibimbap veggies that was talking about on the lower right hand side.

IMG_1633.jpg

Also, if you have leftover veggies from your bibimbap adventure, you can make kimbap, which is basically just bibimbap rolled in nori.

IMG_1640.jpg

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Awesome.  To get the party started, here is one in a dolsot

gallery_8505_1301_69921.jpg

gallery_8505_1301_19561.jpg

I'll be interested to hear about the uber-traditional components as well as the more common ones.  I've had this dish many times in NYC Korean restaurants, and will admit to being surprised to read in these forums that an "authentic bibimbap" is supposed to have certain ingredients, since I've had it in so many different variations.

What looks like bell peppers and asparagus are not traditional at all. There are regional variations in the ingredients. The most "famous" bibimbap is from Jeon Ju where my mother is from and it's also considered the best region for food in South Korea. And yes, my mother's cooking is very pretty like those photos.

In Korea there are restaurants that specialize in bibimbap that adhere to regional presentations which means using local ingredients. There are also restaurants more general restaurants that add whatever. Generally the idea is to go for a range of colors, flavors and textures. Some sauteed vegetables, some naemul, etc..

I prefer to eat at Korean restaurants that specialize in just a few dishes, rather than more general ones.

At home people add whatever they want, even stuff like spam. In my mother's home unless it has at least 5-6 vegetables it's not bibimbap, it 's "bab bi byuh mugh uh"

Seoul is not considered to have a regional style of cooking. It's a city of people from allover Korea. There's a joke that Seoul home cooking is basically buying premade/packaged stuff and ordering in.

One of my favorite versions is yukwe bibimbap with Korean steak tartare with a raw egg yolk as shown in the link.


Edited by touaregsand (log)

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I have a slightly OT question for Touaregsand and others who have been to Korea: Are there any modern variations or new twists on the traditional bibimbap that have gained popularity in Korea recently? For instance, using other meats or non-traditional ingredients?

This is the type of information that is hard to find for those of using not living in Korea.

TIA


Edited by sanrensho (log)

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