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Author Notes: The flavour of the beef improves upon marinating, so make it ahead of time if you can. Sirloin is the ideal cut you want to use here but if it evades you, I often use minced beef. Wilted spinach, daikon, carrots, and bean sprouts are what you would typically find your bibimbap served with at a Korean restaurant. You could go down the classic route or switch them up: I sometimes use cucumber, bok choy, or other native greens in place of spinach. Beef or lamb can be subbed with salmon or tuna as can the brown rice with the more traditional sticky variety. Also, fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms are a good addition for vegetarians.
Although bibimbap is very versatile in terms of the vegetables and meats you use, the one ingredient I’d argue is absolutely indispensable here is gochujang paste. Made from fermented soybeans, chillies, salt, and usually a sweetener of some kind (which varies depending on the brand), it imparts a deep, umami flavour that cannot be reproduced with anything else. Akin to miso in terms of complexity, it’s that essential ingredient that brings the whole dish together. Gochujang is key here.
It cannot have escaped anybody’s attention that everything tastes better when it is topped with a fried egg. The egg here in question has be to runny, has to, because the yolk is what essentially makes the sauce along with the gochujang paste that coats all the vegetables and meat. Serve with little bowlfuls of banchan: kimchi of any kind and if you really want to take it up a notch, a cold glass of oksusu cha to wash it all down with.
*adapted from Gizzi Erskine —Kirthana | Theblurrylime
For the beef marinade:
- 350 grams sirloin, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 raw onion, grated
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Salt, to taste
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice (I used long grain but any kind would do)
- 1 onion, julienned
- 2 spring onions, cut into batons
- 150 grams mushrooms, quartered
- 1 carrot (about 150 gms), peeled and julienned
- 1 daikon radish (about 150 gms), peeled and julienned
- 150 grams spinach leaves
- 4 tablespoons gochujang paste (plus extra)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 4 fried eggs
- Salt, to taste
- Marinate the sirloin strips in the ingredients listed above and refrigerate for at least 30 mins (or up to 6 hours).
- Cook the brown rice as per packet instructions and set aside.
- Place a large pan over medium heat and toss in the beef with its marinade. Add the onions, mushrooms and spring onions and cook over high heat. Move the meat around frequently until the marinade reduces significantly and just about coats the beef. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle over sesame seeds.
- Add the carrots to a pan with ½ cup of water. Cover and cook until they lose their bite but still hold their shape. Drain and toss in ¼ tsp of sesame oil, salt and a few sesame seeds. Transfer to a bowl. Add the daikon to the same pan and repeat the process.
- Add the spinach leaves to the pan and wilt them slightly. Toss in sesame seeds, salt, and ¼ tsp sesame oil.
- To serve, divide rice among bowls. Top with the fried egg, beef, spinach, carrots, daikon and gochujang (start with 1 tsp and add more).