Dolsot bi bim bap
What a funny-sounding word, bi bim bap. Those three syllables, I've found out, means mixed rice and dolsot is the stone bowl that the rice and veg are cooked and served in. When I eat Korean, I'd always go for their soups, stews and bulgogi. My son Wey however will invariably go for sam gyup sal (thin slices of grilled belly pork) and bi bim bap but it has to be in a dolsot, or he won't eat it.
Bi bim bap looks colorful and impressive but tastes rather boring and bland to me but to some, especially the semi-vegans, it's the best Korean dish. Home-made dolsot bi bim bap tastes far better than the restaurants' mainly because you wouldn't scrimp on the ingredients at home. Bi bim bap is a very complete meal, with lots of vitamins and fibre from the colorful veg plus rice, beef and egg all blended with a dollop of sauce made of hot chili soybean paste. The dish is not only easy to prepare, it is quite cheap too because like jap chae (bi bim bap tastes almost like a rice jap chae because the same seasoning is used), a little of this and that add up to a lot.
Since I don't have any dolsot, I used my claypots which don't retain heat as well as the beautiful granite dolsots used in Korean restaurants. I wonder if our local granite pestle and mortar bowl will do. This is a good dish to serve on chilly days because the stone bowls keep the food, and your hands, hot for a long time. Serve it with a simple seaweed or miso soup and a small plate of kimchi and you'll be purring after the meal.
Dolsot Bi Bim Bap (for 4)
1)150g beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips or minced
Marinade the beef with:
2 T light soy sauce
1 T finely chopped garlic
1/2 T fine sugar
a pinch of black pepper
1 t toasted sesame seeds
1/2 T sesame oil
1 T finely sliced spring onions
Fry the beef in veg oil until just cooked.
2) A selection of veg to your liking:
a small bunch of big soy bean sprouts
5 dried shiitake/chinese mushrooms, soaked and cut into thin slices
a small handful ofgosari or fernbrake, cut into 4cm long
1/2 cucumber, cut into thin julienne strips
1/2 carrot, in thin julienne strips
1 small zucchini, in thin slices
1 piece of lettuce, sliced 1 cm strips
1 small bunch of spinach
For bean sprouts, boil for 10 min until soft, squeeze water out and mix with a dash of sesame oil and pinch of salt.
For dried mushrooms, fry in sesame oil and a little sugar and light soy sauce.
For dried gosari, soak until softened, cut it and boil for 10-15 min. Squeeze out water and add sesame oil and a dash of light soy sauce.
For cucumber, salt it for 15 minutes, wash and squeeze dry and fry in a little bit of sesame oil for a couple of seconds.
For carrot, boil for 2 min and drain.
For zucchini, fry in a little sesame oil & salt it lightly.
Lettuce is left uncooked.
Blanch the spinach, squeeze out water, cut into 4 cm strips, sprinkle with sesame oil, salt n sesame seeds.
3) Boil 2-3 cups of rice ahead (depending on how much rice 4 of you can eat), keep warm. Tell you my secret: I use diluted canned beef stock to cook my bi bim bap rice! You don't have to; it's not authentic to do so but hey, that's my secret to a tasty and flavorful bowl of bi bim bap.
4) Gochujang sauce
2 T gochujang (red chili bean paste)
1 T fine sugar
1 T sesame oil
1 T toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup beef stock
Toasted sesame seeds
Toasted nori, scrunched or cut
4 raw eggs
Cooking the bap:
1.Place your dolsot or claypot over the stove and let it heat up. Splash in some sesame oil and use a kitchen tissue to spread the oil all over the sides and bottom of the pot.
2. Spoon the desired amount of cooked rice into the dolsot, arrange the veg side by side around and over the rice, leaving a space in the middle for the raw egg. For a pretty bi bim bap, arrange the colors to contrast with each other. Cover and let cook over low heat about 10 to 15 min. Crack the egg into the middle or, crack it in earlier if you don't want it too raw although remember the hot rice and veg will cook the egg when you mix it all together.
3. Sprinkle sesame seeds and nori over, drop a spoonful of gochujang sauce on the topping and serve. Serve additional gochujang sauce on the side for people who want a hotter and saltier taste. Be careful handling the dolsot: it's BURNING HOT.
Bi bim bap, all mixed up and ready to eat.