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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bee-Bim Bop

I don't get to eat Korean food often and am familiar only with two to three dishes. But I have loved Bee-bim Bop for some time. Several years ago, Betsy discovered the children's book Bee-bim Bop by Linda Sue Park, a delightful rhyming and rhythmic story about a family cooking together. Park explains that the name means mixed up rice in Korean. Because I am referencing the book I am using her spelling; it is also often spelled bibimbap or bibimbop. Let me encourage you to read this book if you haven't already.


Bee-bim Bop (Rice Topped with Vegetables and Meat)

Source: Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
Serves 4

These are the instructions found in the book. However, personal experience and online research has lead me to believe there are other ingredients that are great, too. See below.

In one recipe, after each ingredient (except the meat) was cooked, it was mixed with a tablespoon of sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds (1/2 teas for these amounts). This suggestion adds flavor but it isn't required.

Restaurants sometimes serve this in heated stone bowls which make the rice crispy. To mimic this effect (and avoid buying some stone bowls) I heated some oil in a skillet and placed the cooked rice in and allowed some of the bottom rice to brown and become crispy. This is also not required.

Keep each component in a warm oven after cooking.

2 c white rice
4 c water
1 pound tender lean beef (such as sirloin tip although I have used chuck steak)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into julienne strips (matchstick size), or shredded on large holes of grater
1 pd fresh spinach, washed, or 2 pkg. frozen spinach, defrosted or use Swiss chard
1 pd mung bean sprouts
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying

For the marinade:

  2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  2 scallions, sliced
  5 T soy sauce
  2 T sugar
  2 T vegetable oil
  1 teas sesame seeds, roasted (optional)
  1 T sesame oil
  1/8 teas black pepper

Cook the rice using your favorite method.

Mix the marinade ingredients in a large zip-lock bag or a plastic container. Slice the beef across the grain into very thin slices. This will be easier if you freeze the beef for 30-60 minutes before slicing. Place the beef into the bag, close the top and carefully squish the beef in the marinade (this will increase the tenderness of the beef). You can also stir it all together in the plastic container.  Set the bag with the beef and marinade aside or in the refrigerator if you think it will take you more than an hour to prep other ingredients.

[Optional egg treatment--egg pancakes: Break the eggs into a large measuring cup. Beat with a fork until fully mixed. Heat 1 teas oil over medium heat in non-stick pan. Pour about 1/4 of the egg into the pan. Rotate the pan quickly so the egg spreads out in a thin layer on the bottom. Cook the egg for 1 minute. Using a wide spatula, flip the egg over and cook the other side for 1 minute. This may be easier to grab carefully with your fingertips. You now have an egg pancake. Flip the pancake out onto a cutting board and leave to cool. Repeat until you have used up all the egg, adding a little more oil if needed. You should be able to make at least 4 pancakes. Leave them on the cutting board until cool enough to handle. When cool, place them in a neat stack. Roll up the stack tightly and cut the roll into 1/4-in slices. Place the slices into a medium-sized bowl, unroll them and lightly toss. They will look like yellow ribbons. Set aside.]

Heat 1 T oil in a large frying pan over high heat and stir-fry the carrots until tender. Empty the carrots into a bowl and set aside.

If you are using frozen spinach, squeeze some of the water out of it. If you are using fresh spinach, cook it for 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water, drain and let cool for a few minutes, then squeeze some of the water out. Put 1 T oil into the frying pan and stir-fry the thawed or precooked spinach for 2-3 minutes until tender. If you use fresh Swiss chard, chop it coarsely and stir fry it.  Empty the spinach into a bowl, season it with salt and pepper and set in oven.

Pour one c water into a large saucepan. Add 1/4 teas salt. Put the pan over high heat. When the water boils, place the bean sprouts into the pan. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the bean sprouts and empty them into a bowl.

Wipe out the frying pan and heat again over high heat for about 30 seconds. Take the beef and marinade and dump them into the frying pan--all at once. When the beef hits the pan, it will sizzle loudly. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, spread the beef out in the pan. Stir for 2-3 minutes until all the red meat is cooked. Turn off the heat. You'll be left with a bit of flavorful gravy with the beef.

To serve:

Put the rice, the bowls of egg strips and vegetables, and the pan of meat where everyone can reach them. Each person puts a pile of rice in the middle of a soup bowl or plate and some meat and vegetables on top. Be sure to pour a couple of spoonfuls of gravy your rice.) Top with egg ribbons. If you like spicy food, add some hot-pepper paste or some gochujang which you may find in an Asian grocery store. Apparently you can make your own, a fairly complicated process.

Now "bee-bim" (mix everything together in your bowl). It is ready to eat. If you like it, kimchee is a good accompaniment.

Betsy and I like fried eggs instead instead of the egg pancake. If you leave the yolk quite runny and stir it into the hot vegetables, it cooks the rest of the way and flavors the whole dish.

Here are other ingredients you might like to use; stir fry if appropriate.

snow peas or sugar snaps
green beans
crumbled nori
julienned cucumber or cucumber slices that you've salted and rested for an hour (rinse them, pat them dry and add some sesame oil and roasted seeds)
See this site for ingredients more traditional in Korea.


The heat for stir-frying vegetables will depend on your stove top. Closely attend the first time you cook this recipe and modify the heat if you need to.

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