Making Bibimbap for the First Time

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My experience with bibimbap is very minimal. I may have had it out in a restaurant once or twice, but even then, I had not the knowledge to discern whether or not it was "good." I've been given to understand that there are two genres of bibimbap: real bibimbap and a "rice salad." Clearly, in this case, the "rice salad" is the genre worthy of derision and mockery. The distinction between them is that while real bibimbap is the culmination of a series of individually prepared side dishes (banchan) and vegetables that are then folded into rice by the eater and flavored with a special sauce, the "rice salad" approaches bibimbap as a singular dish that has in it various (often raw) vegetables like carrots, sprouts, etc.

Whether or not the instances of bibimbap I have eaten fall into the "real" or "salad" category, I cannot say.

But a few days ago I made a version from the The Korean Table cookbook. This cookbook did indeed call for the individual preparation of veggies. It suggested that you might pick and choose which of the veggies to include for any particular iteration of the recipe. So I chose a few I was more familiar with.

Accordingly, I made the (soy) sprouts banchan (my version posted elsewhere here), flavored spinach, and the matchstick carrots, sauteed briefly in sesame oil and salted. I then fried an egg in sesame oil (usually left runny, but my run-ins with salmonella have made me overly cautious). In a large bowl of rice, I arranged the veggies in small clumps around the sides and plopped the egg in the middle. I then added the bibim sauce I had made earlier from red pepper paste, vinegar, apple juice, honey/sugar, and sesame oil.

It was pretty addictive. The next night I only had sprouts left, but I was desperate enough that I had a sad little meal of the rice with just the sprouts, an egg, and the sauce.

Will make again! Definitely a very very satisfying comfort food.

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