Bibimbap Now
By Lydia on November 9, 2008 11:24 AM| | Comments (5)
Making new things is always intimidating for me. I don't have any innate sense of flavor, and my handle on technique is sometimes shaky. Add to that the recent arrival of an alpha cook in my kitchen and we get an Even More Nervous Lydia.

Yesterday I made bibimbap for the first time. As previously mentioned in posts about Seoul Garden and Marado Sushi, bibimbap is a Korean dish. Rather, it is the Korean version of "rice with stuff." It is a little like stir-fry, a little like pilaf, but with much more textural contrast and just as much freedom to experiment. It is basically a big bowl of rice with toppings laid on top, often in a pie chart style. Almost always there is a raw or fried egg on top, and always there is gochujang (sp?) a spicy sauce made of fermented bean paste, garlic and chiles. You mix the whole thing together before eating it with kimchi, pickled vegetables and the like. Yum!

I spent the day before work watching Gossip Girl and mandolining. If you have never used a mandoline let me be the first to warn you, it wins the award for kitchen tool most likely to lose you a finger. I had this incident once making gahar halwa, and let me tell you, that lovely burnished color wasn't just carrot... In any event, as long as you do not drink while operating and Do Not Watch TV you will be ok. They are very very handy time-savers. The mandoline is basically an angled blade set in a plastic board. You slide the vegetable along the board, and the blade slices perfectly every time. There are also removable blades to make matchsticks or strips instead of slices. I made quick machsticks of carrot, slices of cucumber and turnip, and didn't cut myself once!

The sauce was a combination of hot red peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, a roux of oil and flour for texture and a couple of anchovy filets for that fermented-ish stank. Anchovies, I think, are done a great disservice by those who do not understand their use in combination, especially in sauces. Even if you don't taste the anchovy, it lends a depth, and a funk, that is indispensible in many dishes.

I also chopped some green onion on the bias, chopped more chunks of turnip, some of apple, and cubed portabella mushrooms and a small eggplant. The eggplant got marinated in a combination of fish sauce, tamari and olive oil. I would have used sesame if I had had it, but instead just sprinkled some seeds on and gave it a good toss. The mushroom got dressed with oil and chopped garlic. Those went into the fridge in seperate containers along with all the crunchy vegetables. The turnip and apple I was trying to make into banchan, the accompaniments of pickles. Turnip strips were covered in salt and sugar and water and left to cure. I sauced chunks of turnip with oil, chopped chiles and maple syrup. Apples got cayenne, paprika, and lots of black pepper. Last I made a very ginger-heavy mix of turnip and apple. I pretty much was hoping that one of them would be good, but not expecting miracles of turnip transformation. Then I just threw it all in the fridge to wait for after work.

I got out really late, as there were many rabid country music fans swilling vodka-cranberries and mowing hummus before the Reba Macintire/Kelly Clarkson show. Barf. (Barf to vodka, barf to $8 pesto hummus, an assumed barf to Reba, but no barf to KC's hit "Since U Been Gone.") When I got home I just made a bunch of sticky rice and set Ted to work doing the real cooking. I mean, of course, the part where you put the eggplant in the saute pan and do that flippy thing to stir instead of, you know, stirring like a normal person. That's OK, I used my time to make him a Facebook account and a gmail. Welcome to the Internet, Ted. When everything was done we arranged the pie chart and fried an egg.
Well, it was good. There were different textures and colors, certainly. Next time I will omit the cucumber, as it was overwhelmed by the bean sprouts in crunch and the green onions in flavor. I will use more mushroom and less eggplant. I will make the sauce spicier. I will remember the kimchi in the fridge and eat it. Also, I will make this as a great use of leftovers instead of spending the better part of a day on it. And that's really the intent here. The combination of ingredients should be happenstance, but sensible, making an easy dish that's more than the sum of its parts.

so exotic and vegetably! yum.

Do country music fans really drink Vodka Cranberry juice? Do they like lime in it? Am I going to feel like a doofus the next time I order one?

What a great post.

Country music fans seem to like: sangria (mixed red and white,) vodka/cran, chardonnay, and a bud light for the menfolk. That said, vodka/cran is delish and at the chez a much more reasonably priced option than any special cocktail. I always garnish with a lime, but I couldn't say how many of them squeezed it into their drinks.

Thank you!

Vodka, Cranberry and Lime (I've always been told to call them "Cape Cods") is what I cut my teeth on when I decided it was about time I gave up teenager booze, e.g. 40's of malt liquor and Captain Morgan. I can't remember the last time I actually drank a Cape Cod out of preference, as opposed to vodka and cranberry juice were the only things to drink at my house, but I have fond, fond memories and complete lack of memories caused by that drink.

May it live forever.


p.s. Hey sis, we should totes hit up New Holland sometime soon. Fridays are great for me.

yea! Road Trip Jr.! My Fridays off are few, but I'll set the next one aside for Beer Trip.