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Please join my fast-track-taste-tour through the Orient.
Growing up in a family of seven, eating out in a restaurant was a rare occasion - like maybe four or five times a year we had a Chinese food treat at The Seven Seas. Egg rolls, chicken balls, vegetables covered in a gelatinous sauce, chow mein noodles, dry ribs, stir-fried rice. We ordered the dishes for our "special of the day"!
Fast forward. My husband and I made more frequent restaurant visits and we adventured into other Orient options: Beef Noodle Satay Soup from Vietnamese Oriental Noodle House became a favourite. Later, our daughter and son-in-law introduced us to sushi and the fresh cuisine of Japan.
Then in 2005 for three months we were privileged to host a Korean house-guest/boarder - who loved to cook. Shopping with Joon, stocking up for his culinary specialties, was like taking kids to the toy store. Then watching him work his magic for food presentation, and later eating his fare...it was the best of times.
Joon taught me how to make BiBimBap. I love this dish because it has a variety of veggies, it's not heavy - and once in a while I love a fried egg. It's a meal in a bowl that's nothing like the one-pot dishes we're used to.
Here's how you make it.
Cook a pot of rice as you normally would - in a rice cooker or on the stove. (When I was outnumbered by Joon and my husband it was white rice - now I make brown.)
While rice is cooking, prepare your choice of the following toppings (about 4 -6, not including the eggs). Some of the prep can be done ahead of time or round up the troops to help - guests come in handy to join in the work, and the fun.
-- carrots - sliced into tiny julienned strips, or grated slivers, 2 - 3 inches long
-- red or green cabbage - finely sliced
-- package of fresh bean sprouts
-- green onions - cut on the diagonal
-- tofu - cubed or sliced, lightly sauteed in mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil
-- fresh, or re-hydrated wild mushrooms - thinly sliced, lightly sauteed or not
-- English cucumber - sliced into 1/4" thick slices and lightly sauteed in a little olive oil
-- zucchini - cut in half from top to bottom, sliced and sauteed in a little olive oil
-- spinach - left in fresh leaves, or lightly wilted with sea salt
-- thinly sliced minced beef - lightly fry in hot pan with bit of sea salt until cooked
-- eggs - cook sunnyside up (or to your preference) at the very last, just before eating.
-- kimchi - purchased from reputable source or make your own - here's how.
-- soy sauce, sesame oil, hot chili sauce - or gochujang - Korean traditional hot chili paste
Scoop up a mugful of hot rice and tip it out in the middle of a wide-mouthed cereal bowl or small serving bowl. Around the perimeter of the rice, using chopsticks or a spoon, serve up amounts of the toppings, reserving the "peak" of the rice for your egg(s). (Sorry, my photo doesn't show any rice, but it's there under all the toppings.)
Sprinkle on a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and your choice of hot sauce.
Using chopsticks (or fork), stir everything together and eat up - adding extra bits of toppings and rice as desired.
Look for BiBimBap on the menu of your favourite Oriental restaurant. It will have its own variations - more ideas for your own healthy BiBimBap experience.