I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the summer months can fly by. It’s August now which means the end to my month of travel and a return to the real world (or whatever you want to call my strange life in limbo). I had such a good month spending time with friends, catching up with family, exploring new places and eating my face off. However, after a month that included 4 flights, 2 train rides, 2 bus rides and a 6 hour drive to and from the wedding I must say it feels nice to just sit still for a bit. I got home after a red eye flight and bus ride back to Providence and immediately collapsed into my bed.
The only downside to all my travels? I was in vacation mentality, which meant I was in vacation eating mentality, which obviously meant I ate more than my fair share of tacos and wedding cake and pastries and cheese and everything delicious I encountered, not to mention all the airport food. I was bad to my body. When I woke up from my nap/sleep hybrid I realized my body was screaming for vegetables and water.
My goal: to incorporate as many vegetables as possible into my meal while still forcing myself to be adventurous. Which is how I came to make bibimbap for dinner. Bibimbap, for those who don’t know, is a Korean dish that literally means “mixed rice.” It consists of rice, vegetables and protein in the form of meat and an egg. The nice thing is you can use any vegetables you want, even if it makes the dish a bit less authentic. Traditionally it’s often made to use up leftovers since the vegetables are ones often served as sides with other things.
It took me a while to make because I didn’t have any leftovers, having just returned home, and hot damn is it hard to julienne a baby carrot. I also had to marinate the meat, cook the rice and prepare a few different vegetables. Let’s just say I didn’t plan my time very well (I was almost done with everything else when I realized I hadn’t made any rice).
In the end though it turned out wonderfully, and it had the simple, clean flavors that my body was begging me for. For vegetables I used cucumbers, carrots, spinach and bell peppers, with some baby bok choy on the side. The only real seasonings to the veggies came from a little sesame oil, garlic and sesame seeds, along with a bit of salt at the end. I also used kimchi, which-fun fact-is supposed to be amazing for digestion and health. I wanted some meat too so I used sirloin steak marinated in a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and agave nectar.
When I put it all together it looked so tasty. And I got my rice on my plate in such a nice round shape. …If I sound proud it’s because plating is never my strong point.
My supermarket didn’t have gochujang, the chili pepper paste traditionally served with bibimbap, so I improvised with some sriracha mixed with a dash of honey, soy sauce and sesame oil (a trick I found on this blog).
And finally I topped it all off with a sunny side up egg. I’m much more of an over-easy girl myself, so on my first attempt I broke the oh-so-delicate yolk all over the pan. My second attempt, however, resulted in a perfectly sunny-side-up egg to top off my masterpiece with.
As anyone who has eaten bibimbap knows, part of the fun of this dish is that it looks so well composed when you serve it, but then you immediately mix it all together when you eat it. That runny yolk gets mixed in with the beef and rice and veggies and it all comes together into one delicious messy dish.
There’s really not much to it since the steps are: rice, veggies, meat, egg. If you want a little more direction than that (including which vegetables are most traditional), this post on Living and Eating takes you through the steps.
In the end, I’d call my foray into bibimbap a resounding success. It was more food than I needed (I didn’t finish everything on the plate), left me full for hours, and eased me back into a world of vegetables and simple food.