beef fusion dish

Bibimbap (Korean Spicy Mixed Rice)

Saturday, June 07, 2014Enz F

My most youthful days revolved during the 90s to early 2000s. I was a growing adolescent at that time, the awkward (and painful) stage in a person’s life when it was still confusing to distinguish being a “kid no more” to an “adult, not yet”. I grew up in Metro Manila, the capital region of the Philippines. Being a full-fledged and proud Manileño, I was exposed to the music, culture and bright lights of the urban life. Admittedly, I was a not-so-obedient type of child and I had numerous records of sneaking at the backdoor of our house in the middle of the night just to go out with peers (who also broke out from their own houses) while the parents were sound asleep and had no idea of the “crime” being committed. There were even some instances when I had to connive with my nanny and to bribe her 100 pesos just to keep her mum provided I come back home before dawn or else, prepare ourselves to face our doom. Ah, those memorable adventurous days of my youth! Looking back, I could not help realizing how pain in the neck I was to my parents and how I owe them a big time massage for the immeasurable headache I inflicted on them. But that is part of growing up and who never went to it anyway? The upside of being a daredevil child is that I was able to get to know myself even better. I came to perceive who my real friends are, and found out my real passion, my favorite food, my music genre – my real niche in this corner of this world. I got to swim to the unchartered waters that no one was bold enough to take risk and eventually discovered something new and valuable at the other side of the pond. As the cliché goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

The Hanson's hit song "Mmm bop" is in no way associated to famous Korean signature dish.
On a lighter note, I have to say I was not a complete nuisance to my family who would always give reason to raise the red flag at our doorstep to beware the passers-by of the impending danger in case they happened to cross the wrong side of the street. I was still an ordinary lad who enjoyed eating ice cream as much as playing under the rain and an aspirant who also belted out to the tune of the latest pop rock songs – a young indomitable spirit who was once worry-free and loosey-goosey. I belonged to the unstable era of the crossing of analog handsets to digital phones, and when Latin telenovelas and western boy bands were common hot items in every Filipino home. And yes, I was among the young boys who took part to the popularity of these blond-haired pop boy groups who easily captured the hearts of a huge fraction of my young female friends and even impersonated some of their hits during school musicals just to experience how it was being admired while performing on stage. We would never forget the American trio who hailed from Tulsa, Oklahoma - the very young Hanson Brothers and their top hit song “Mmmbop”. (Later on, the group changed their names to simply “Hanson” to never confuse with the famous hockey players.) I was a young heart who once you would see “mmmbopping” in front of the class to inflict not annoyance but laughter to classmates and teachers alike, that hit song that topped the billboard and sold more than 12 million copies. I could have the entire post to make a detailed review of their popular songs but meantime, let me share with you a Korean dish that has an equally amusing name and sounds like “mmmbop” (at least when you first heard of it without looking at the spelling) – the Bibimbap (비빔밥, [PEE-bim-bop] or [BEE-bim-bop]).

This once dubbed as one of the world's most delicious food also has a wonderful royal lineage to boost with.
This dish has no direct association whatsoever to Hanson boy band, unless they are lovers of Korean dishes too. Considered a signature of Korea and once included in the list of the world’s most delicious foods, bibimbap literally means "mixed rice". It is composed of seasoned salad, stir fried vegetables, marinated meat and fried or poached egg atop the bed of steamed rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds and spiced up with gochujang sauce. It can be served on ordinary bowls or on dolsot, a hot earthen bowl in which sometimes a raw egg is cooked against the sides. It is believed that bibimbap was originally a court dish of the Joseon Dynasty in Jeonju City in South Korea. 

What I love most about this dish is all its wonderful colors and versatility. You can have the freedom to choose whatever type of meat you desire as it is not only limited to beef bulgogi; or omit the meat and go for healthier tofu, beans and mushrooms. You can also be exploratory with the choice of vegetables which include but are not limited to mung bean sprouts, spinach, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, courgette, kosari (fern-brake), seaweeds, okra, onions and a lot more – whatever you fancy or anything extras you have sitting in your fridge.

Beautifully arrange in the dolsot and deliciously messed up!
In my version of bibimbap, I chose the variety of vegetables that are easiest to find in our local market. To incorporate some Filipino touch to it (as I usually do in most of my non-Filipino dishes), I used some of our locally grown mushrooms, taingang daga (literally translated as "rat ears") or better known as cloud ear fungus or auricularia mushrooms. And to add a tad of citrusy kick to my marinated beef, I splashed some juice extract of my favorite calamansi lime. I could not find a ready-made gochujang so I made an improvised one which was really very easy I could even make a whole jar and keep it inside the fridge for future use. Again, this made my resourcefulness and being adventurous put into best use. I created a single batch to test if it would go well and yes it did, I never noticed I was already preparing for a bunch of five! All the slicing and cooking jobs were quite a task but it was so worth it. I loved all the flavors and textures that complement with each other. Being a rice lover too, bibimbap captured my heart in a snap. Indeed, this is one heaven of goodness in a single bowl. 

There are very few Korean dishes I know and I am very glad I came across with this very famous and well-celebrated royal dish. And just like me, I am pretty sure once you have tried it, there is no way you could stop mmmbopping to this mouthwatering dolsot-ful of bibimbap.

Bibimbap (Korean Spicy Mixed Rice)
Number of Servings: 2

For the meat and marinade (bulgogi) 
  • 1 lb. beef steak (sirloin or rib-eye), sliced into strips 
  • 3 tbsps. soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsps. white vinegar 
  • 2 calamansi limes, juice extracted 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped spring onions 
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper 
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger 
  • 2 tbsps. sesame oil 
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds 
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar 
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil 
For mung bean sprout salad (sukju namul muchim) 
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts 
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil 
  • ½ tsp. toasted sesame seeds 
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder 
  • ½ tsp. finely chopped spring onions 
  • salt to taste 
  • water for blanching 
For lettuce salad 
  • 1 cup torn lettuce leaf 
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil 
  • ½ tsp. white vinegar 
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder 
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper 
  • salt to taste 
  • water for blanching 
For vegetable stir fry 
  • 1 carrot, julienned 
  • 6 pcs. okra, sliced 
  • 1 cup taingang daga (auricularia mushroom), soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained 
  • vegetable cooking oil 
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste 
For bibimbap sauce (Gochujang) 
  • 1 tbsp. soybean paste or miso 
  • 2 tbsps. cayenne powder or finely ground red Thai chili 
  • 1 tbsp. white sugar 
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce 
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil 
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds 
  • water as needed 
  • 2 eggs, fried half-cooked sunny side up 
  • steamed short grain rice 
  • extra toasted sesame seeds 

Prepare the beef bulgogi 
  1. In a sealable container or ziplock bag, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi juice, garlic, spring onions, pepper, ginger, sesame oil, sesame seeds and brown sugar. Mix until all the ingredients are well-blended. 
  2. Toss in the beef slices to coat with marinade mixture. Seal the container or bag and keep in the fridge to marinade for 1 hour to overnight. 
  3. Heat up the pan with some vegetable oil and then fry the marinated beef. Set the heat on medium continue cooking until the beef is tender and caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside until needed. 
Prepare the mung bean sprouts salad (sukju namul muchim) 
  1. Boil the water in the pot and add a pinch of salt. 
  2. Blanch the mung bean sprouts for 1-2 minutes or just enough until they begin to soften. 
  3. Drain the boiled water and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the bean sprouts to remove excess water. Transfer into a mixing bowl. 
  4. Season the bean sprouts with sesame oil, sesame seed, garlic powder and spring onions. Toss until well-blended. Set aside until needed. 
Prepare the lettuce salad 
  1. Boil the water in the pot and add a pinch of salt. 
  2. Blanch the lettuce for 30 seconds. 
  3. Drain the boiled water and plunge in ice cold water until completely cool. Drain the water and squeeze out the excess liquid. Roughly chop and transfer the lettuce into a mixing bowl. 
  4. Season the lettuce with sesame oil, vinegar, garlic powder and pepper. Toss until well blended. Set aside until needed. 
Stir fry the vegetables 
  1. Heat a small amount of cooking oil in the frying pan and sauté the carrots until slightly tender. 
  2. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Remove from heat. 
  3. Do the same process to taingang daga and okra. Set aside the stir fried vegetables in separate saucers until needed. 
Prepare the bibimbap sauce (Improvised gochujang sauce) 
  1. In a small bowl, mix the miso paste, cayenne powder or minced chili, sugar, garlic powder, soy sauce and vinegar. Add enough water to form a thick sauce. 
  2. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and then stir in the sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Add more water if necessary and mix well. Refrigerate and set aside until needed. 
Assemble the bibimbap 
  1. Sprinkle the bottom of two bowls or dolsot with toasted sesame seed. Divide the rice among the bowls. 
  2. Set the egg on top of the rice at the center of the bowl. Arrange the beef bulgogi, mung bean sprout salad, lettuce salad, carrots, taingang daga and okra around the fried egg. 
  3. Add a dollop of gochujang sauce and sprinkle the top with toasted sesame seeds. 
  4. Mix up all the ingredients in the bowl until evenly combined. Enjoy! 

  1. Transform your bibimbap into a vegetarian dish by substituting the meat and eggs with tofu and other variety of mushrooms. 
  2. In making an improvised gochujang sauce, you can also use tahini or sesame paste aside from miso. 
  3. You may use cauliflower rice instead of the ordinary rice if you are on a low-carb diet. 

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  1. Great insights Enz! I'm sure your family is very proud with the kind of kitchen master that you have become. This Korean food looks delicious and healthy. As long as there's an okra in it, I will eat it.

    1. That is high praise, my friend. Thank you for the kind words and for always taking time to visit my blog. Amazing people like you are the reasons why I keep my passion to cook and share my stories. :) And yes, the okra is a great addition to the dish. You must give it a try. Be sure to get someone to assist you in chopping and stir frying. :)


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