Bi Bim Bap
I don’t know how i made it to my mid-twenties without a name… a Korean name that is. As the story goes, my grandfather was so excited for the birth of my older brother (the first grandbaby, first male, born in the Year of the Dragon, etc.), he decided to name my brother. When I pop up on the scene thirteen months later, the excitement for grandbabies seemed to have fizzled and I remained nameless. While in my teens, I even prodded once about my lack of a Korean name, only to receive a response from my mom like, “How about we name you after your (significantly) younger cousin. Her name is pretty.” … Thanks Mom.
Imagine how much easier Korean classes would have been with a “proper” Korean name.
“What’s your name?”
“Uhhhh….. How do you spell that?”
“Uhhhh….Ermmmm …. spelled out ‘KAH-SHEE in Hangul.’”
There’s no hope.
Though I joke about being the nameless one in the family, my Mom recently made it up to me, choosing to name me after one of my aunts — a name that means goodness and beauty. Got to love Mom.
In a recent visit home, I got my mom to teach me how to make a Korean staple: Bi Bim Bap. Loosely (according to Mom, very loosely) translating to “things to mix with rice,” this dish is definitely one of my favorites. Even though it’s become quite popular in LA, I wanted to learn how to make the authentic, Korean version (as opposed to the “KAH-SHEE” version). Little did I know that it’s incredibly simple to make! We used ingredients we had on hand or could easily grab from the garden. The best part is that you can put almost any Korean side dish in your bowl, mix it in and it WILL STILL TASTE AMAZING. I hope you enjoy my adventures into authentic Korean cuisine.
Bi Bim Bap
3-4 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
2 Cups of Brown Rice, cooked
1 Cup of Spinach, rinsed
2 Eggs, separated
Red Pepper Paste (gochujang)
Toasted Sea Weed (optional)
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Place mushrooms in a glass of water and set aside to soak. Using a vegetable slicer (or a sharp knife), cut the carrot into strips and set aside. Separate the egg yokes from the whites and beat each with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. Divide cooked rice between your two bowls. Set aside.
Cooking and Assembly:
Meanwhile, place a medium-sized pot half-full of water on the stove. Once boiling, blanch the spinach. For those of you who don’t know what blanching means (me), you only want to dip the spinach in the boiling water until the leaves wilt. Set in a strainer and once cool, squeeze out the extra water. Season with 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Cut the spinach into 2 inch segments and add to your rice bowl.
By this time, your mushrooms should be re-hydrated.* Remove from water, squeeze to remove excess water and cut in slices. In a hot, oiled pan, saute mushrooms and add to your rice and spinach. Using the same pan, saute your carrots. I prefer my carrots slightly under-cooked to preserve the crunch factor. Add to your rice bowl.
In a clean pan, cook your egg whites just like a pancake.** Once cooked, slice and add to your rice bowl. Do the same with your egg yokes. Top with sea weed slices, extra sesame seeds and red pepper paste. Mix and enjoy!
Makes two servings.
*When I asked my mom if fresh mushrooms could be substituted, she answered with a flat-out no.
**Note that it is important that your pan is clean and extremely hot for your egg pancakes to cook properly.
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