A little while ago I Instagrammed a photo from a bibimbap restaurant in Soho. It was met with a combination of 'what the hell is that?' and 'ahh bibimbap. I love that stuff', which gives you a clue that it's slightly unknown in the UK and also pretty popular with those who have tried it. It's basically a Korean dish consisting of rice topped with various vegetable or meat toppings. You can get salad versions but my favourite is dol sot ('stone bowl' in Korean). The stone bowl is heated until it's sizzling hot so the the rice becomes a little crispy where it touches the bowl and it's able to cook a raw egg as you stir the ingredients together. I don't own a stone bowl but you can achieve basically the same results with a good cast iron pan.
Anyway I couldn't find a good recipe on the internet so I've come up with my own with a little help from The Kitchn. It does take a bit of time to prepare the toppings but it's well worth it and my recipe uses the same pan for all of the cooked toppings - so there isn't too much washing up involved! There is no limit to the toppings you could use and if you're vegetarian or vegan switch the beef and egg out for tofu. The more obscure ingredients (e.g. Gochujang paste) aren't too hard to find and most Asian supermarkets should stock them. Recipe after the jump...
Easily serves 4
250g Steak, very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp sesame oil
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
Half a cucumber, julienned
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 sheet nori (Japanese seaweed)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1-2 carrots, peeled and julienned
3 cups uncooked glutinous/sticky rice
1 or 2 eggs
2-3tbsp or to taste, Gochujang (red pepper paste)
To serve (optional)
Marinade the sliced beef in 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar and the diced garlic. Rehydrate the dried shiitake mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for about 15 minutes. Set both aside. Cut the carrots and cucumber into very thin strips (julienne). Place the cucumber into a colander and sprinkle over a little salt. This will draw the moisture out so make sure it's over a sink! After a few minutes, squeeze any excess liquid from the cucumber and set aside.
Heat up a medium sized pan on a low-medium heat with a couple of inches of water. Blanch the spinach for about a minute until the stalks soften and then plunge into a bowl of icy water to stop the cooking. Remove the spinach from the cold water, gently squeeze and place in a bowl with 1 tbsp of sesame oil and 1tbsp sesame seeds. Slice the shitakke mushrooms, nori and spring onions. You don't need to do anything to the spring onions or nori so they can be set aside until you're ready to assemble the bibimbap.
Empty the spinach cooking water from the pan, place it back on the heat, add one tbsp of sesame oil and gently stirfry the carrots for a couple of minutes until they soften a little. Set the carrots aside and return the pan to the heat. Add the beef to the pan and brown for 3-5 minutes until cooked. Set the beef aside. Return the pan to the heat again and stirfry the sliced shiitake mushrooms along with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp sesame oil for a couple of minutes.
Cook 3 cups of (uncooked) glutinous rice according to packet instructions. When the rice is cooked, place your dolsot stand-in on a medium flame. Coat the base and sides with the last tbsp of sesame oil. Add the rice and press it down a little. When the rice begins to sizzle, begin to arrange the ingredients on top. All the bibimbaps I've had do this in a 'colour-wheel' kind of way, but it's really up to you as it's going to get stirred up. Add a couple of tbsps of Gochujang on top if you like, but you can also serve this on the side at the table if you aren't sure how spicy you or your dining companions like it. Crack one or two eggs on top of the assembled ingredients and sprinkle on the remaining sesame seeds. Make sure the pan is nice and hot, so leave it on the heat for a couple of minutes if necessary and then take to the table and place on a heat proof mat.
Now give it all a good stir with a large spoon and serve! We had ours with a side of sliced kimchi and Sriracha chilli sauce.