Give Me Five: Easy bibimbap
This traditional Korean dish is a messy, delicious jumble of flavour. It is happiness in a bowl
Food should be nourishing but it should also make you happy, and this does both
Bibimbap is a traditional Korean rice dish. It literally means “mixed rice”. It consists of a hot bowl of rice topped with stir-fried vegetables, gochujang and soy sauce. A fried egg is usually placed on top and sometimes strips of beef. Just before eating, you stir it all together thoroughly with chopsticks. It’s a messy jumble of flavour and incredibly delicious.
Each time I eat this, I can’t help but announce that I could eat it every day. If there was only one dish I could choose, this would be it. I think food should be nourishing but it should also make you happy. This does both. It has bursts of chilli, salty soy sauce and loads of crunchy vegetables for texture, with the richness of a fried egg. It’s happiness in a bowl.
It can be difficult to source a good quality gochujang – a chilli pepper paste – so I usually use sweet chilli sauce or sriracha sauce.
Irish company Thai Gold makes a good sriracha, which I add to everything.
I used to make this the traditional way, cooking and seasoning each vegetable individually before assembling the finished dish. But I’ve come up with a much easier version, which would perhaps be frowned upon by traditionalists but results in a super-quick yet delicious supper. I cook all my vegetables at once, keeping them crunchy, full of nutrients and bursting with flavour. Use whatever vegetables you have for an affordable dinner option.
Kale, so cheap and healthy, is perfect in a dish such as this, where it will be highly seasoned with the soy and chilli sauces. I’ve made this using just carrots, ginger and onion as my base, and it tastes lovely. Red cabbage, bean sprouts, shredded Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and dried seaweed are all great additions. Recently, I bought a bag of mixed stir-fry vegetables and they were perfect for this. Pre-prepared items such as this can be incredibly convenient when you just have a shopping basket, a few hungry toddlers trailing behind you and five minutes to pick up ingredients for a healthy dinner.
Most supermarkets have a range of different vegetable mixes, from the basic cabbage-heavy bargain version to the de-luxe asparagus and sugar snap pea with grated ginger version, which still usually cost only about €3.
Bibimbap is a great way to cram as many vegetables as you can into your meal, yet it still leaves you feeling satisfied and nourished.
Some freshly grated ginger can be added when frying the vegetables, and a drizzle of sesame seed oil or some toasted sesame seeds can be sprinkled on top. It’s very versatile.
This dish is also an ideal way to use leftover rice. Simply add it to the fried vegetables and stir until heated through, adding the hot fried egg at the last minute. You’ll need a good-quality egg with a full-flavoured ochre yolk. A small, pale egg won’t have much of an impact here, especially with such dominant flavours as soy and chilli, so look out for large, speckled, organic eggs.
I usually use shortgrain brown rice, but basmati, sushi rice or an alternative grain such as barley or farro can be used. There is an Indian proverb that describes exactly how rice should be: perfectly cooked rice grains are like brothers, close, yet separate, and definitely not stuck together. To make perfect rice I use the absorption method detailed in the recipe below.
EASY BIBIMBAP: SERVES 4
The five ingredients
- 200g shortgrain or basmati rice
- 500g mixed stir-fried vegetables
- 2tbs soy sauce
- 2tsp chilli sauce
- 4 eggs
From the pantry
- Sunflower or olive oil
Rinse the rice well in a sieve under running water. Place in a medium saucepan with one pint of boiling water. Bring to the boil, then lower to a bare simmer, cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, then leave to steam for a further five minutes.
Meanwhile heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the vegetables, frying and stirring for five minutes or so until the vegetables are only just cooked. Season with the soy sauce and chilli or sriracha sauce. Fry for a further minute or so and set aside to keep warm.
Heat two to three tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the eggs until the whites are set and the yolk still very soft.
Serve by dividing the rice into four bowls, then adding the vegetables and then topping each with an egg. Finally, stir the contents of the bowl together until mixed and add extra soy sauce and sriracha to taste.
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