Wednesday, July 4, 2012
One of the first things that Mike and I did when I got to New Haven was to go to the Oriental Pantry, just a short walk from our apartment in East Rock. It's a cute little Asian market that is packed to the ceiling with all kinds of food items and also teas and gifts. They have great dishes and tea sets there. The market stocks mostly Korean, Japanese and some Thai foods. The owner cooks a few things, one of them being Bibimbap. It was my first taste of this dish and it was instant love. Why do I love it so much? It isn't a strong tasting dish. It's more fresh than anything and I love just about anything with an egg on top. There is something about the hot sauce, too. It has a definite umami flavor. After some research I found that gochujang is red pepper paste with soybean miso in it. A friend who has lived in Korea for years now told me that the red pepper is cut with sesame oil but I didn't find anything that had that in it when I looked for it at the market. I did find the above jar and it had fermented soybean listed on the label. I didn't see "gochujang" anywhere on the jar but it tastes exactly like what I've had at the Oriental Pantry. It's much hotter than the O.P.'s, too!
I love the bibimbap at the Oriental Pantry and will be coming back for more but I decided to try to make it at home. There is a fair amount of prep work of cutting all the vegetables and cooking them ahead of time. I used zucchini, kale, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, bean sprouts, roasted nori slivers and tofu. I used black rice since I had it. I just cooked it ahead in the rice cooker and let it cool down. I blanched the spouts and cooled them. In a bowl, I mixed them with sesame oil and sesame seed. I did the same with the kale, cut into ribbons. I cut the carrots and zucchini into matchsticks and cooked them each separately in sesame oil. I sauteed the mushrooms and tofu in sesame oil, as well. When each vegetable was just cooked through I assembled them on a plate.
To assemble the dish, I put a couple of tablespoons of sesame oil in a cast iron pan. I put about 3 cups of the rice and spread it over the bottom. I layered the vegetables and tofu on top of the rice and let it all heat up together. When everything is heated through, add an egg to the top. Now, that is what most recipes I looked at called to do. I made bibimbap again and fried the egg separately and I like how that came out better. I had to cover my pan to get the egg to cook when I added it on top of the vegetables. the steam that collected made the yolk cloud over and it's supposed to remain a bright yellow. The goal is to cook the white and keep the yolk liquid so it makes a sauce when mixed into the dish.
To serve, put rice into a bowl or on a plate (big bowl is better) and layer the vegetables and tofu on top around the sides in heaps. Put the egg on top in the middle and dress it with nori, sesame seeds and a dollop of gochujang. Mix, eat and enjoy!