Bibimbap: A vegetarian dinner for two

January 8, 2016

 

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes

I don’t know about you, but I’m in the middle of a holiday hangover.

Too much eating, drinking, shopping and partying has put me in the mood to lay low, limit alcohol (for a while) and indulge in a lighter diet. But that doesn’t mean I long for a Spartan meal of steamed fish and veggies. As always, I want something delicious on my plate.

Luckily, I just finished writing One Pan Two Plates Vegetarian and so have a trove of 70 new vegetarian options for dinner, all cooked in one pan for fast and easy cooking and cleanup. After writing and testing these meatless meals over a six month period we are now fans of eating vegetarian numerous times a week and I must say, we both really enjoy the change. The flavors are exciting and the meals are filling, but not heavy.

One of my new favorites is Bibimbap (bee-bim-bop), a delicious Korean dish of rice, sautéed vegetables, fried egg, spicy chili sauce and kimchi. The vegetables are usually cooked separately and arranged beautifully around the rice, but I think you’ll appreciate the time saving measure of just cooking all the veggies at once. After all, you’re going to mix it all up before you take the first bite, right?

I love the crispy veggies flavored with garlic and ginger, soy and sesame. Plus you can clean out the fridge and just use almost any vegetable lingering there. The star of this dish is the sauce made from gochujang, a spicy Korean condiment of red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. When combined with mirin (rice wine), a little sugar, sesame oil and sesame seeds, it makes a drizzly, sweet/hot sauce that I hope you will find as addictive as I do. I could slather it on anything and just gobble it up. The kimchee adds tang and of course let’s not forget how good all this fermented food is for our digestive systems. Definitely helpful after the holiday onslaught.

To make dinner even easier, many grocery stores now sell frozen bags of brown rice. I love how easy it is to pop them in the micro and voilá, no extra pan to clean or extended wait for the rice to cook. This allows me to focus on the big picture part of the meal but if you are a rice aficionado and love your rice cooker, go ahead and cook the rice of your choice. I’ve been thinking this dish would be great with a rice blend but haven’t tried it yet. Maybe the next time.

Look for more of these recipes in the coming months. But I must admit. I have been dreaming about mixing up a chocolate chunk cookie made with peanut butter cookie dough, chopped peanuts and sprinkled with sea salt. Hmmm. Perhaps I’ll be ready for that by Valentine’s Day.

It’s that easy: Sometimes when you cook everything for a meal in one pan, the bottom of the pan can get a little torched. After frying the egg for this dish, the bottom of the pan will need a little scrub but if you have Bar Keeper’s Friend (either powder or liquid) your pan will sparkle like new in no time flat. Buy a jar. You won’t be sorry.

Note: Many of the most used ethnic ingredients are now available in your local grocery but the easiest way to buy the more exotic ingredients such as gochujang is Amazon. Really. It is…so…easy. And…so…worth it. I used to drive all over the city looking for ingredients and now they are only a click and a day or so away. This is especially true if you have Prime. If you are not a fan of Amazon there are other sites but you may have to wait longer or pay more in shipping.

Sauce

2 Tbsp gochujang
2 Tbsp mirin or white wine
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 2-in [5 cm] knob ginger, minced
1 stalk broccoli, sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 cup [30 g] snow peas, roughly chopped
1/2 cup [30 g] julienned carrot
1 6-in [15 cm] zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 cups [290 g] hot rice (frozen steam in bag variety works well, either white or brown)
2 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced as garnish
1/2 cup [100 g] kimchi (in the refrigerated case at my market)

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set it aside.

Heat a 12-in [30.5 cm] skillet over medium high heat and add 2 Tbsp of the vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers add the garlic, ginger, and broccoli and sauté for 1 minute. Add the snow peas, carrot, zucchini, and mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to tenderize. Combine the soy, mirin, and sesame oil, pour it over the vegetables and stir for another minute or until the vegetables are crisp tender. Taste and season with more soy or sesame oil if it needs it. Be careful not to overcook to soggy.

Spoon the hot rice into two heated bowls, top with the hot vegetables, and keep warm.

Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil. When it shimmers break the eggs gently into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Carefully scoop the eggs from the pan with a thin edged spatula and gently place them on top of the vegetables. Garnish the plates with the green onion and serve with a dollop of kimchi and a drizzle of the gochujang sauce, mix it all together with your fork and eat it up before it gets cold.

Extra hungry? Fry an extra egg or two.

In the glass: Riesling is the one wine to stand up to the spice and heat going on in this dish. Look for Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Riesling. It’s a great buy.

In my ears: Hold On

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