#FightFoodWaste Recipe 1: Korean Bibimbap

The Every Day Project | #FightFoodWaste Recipe 1 | Korean BibimbapI love reading cookbooks and searching for new meal ideas that I can cook or bake for my family. But sometimes, I only have a hodgepodge of ingredients in my pantry/fridge, the stragglers from other recipes I’ve tried. Other times, there’s just that one egg left in the carton; the odd number of baby carrots left in the package; and a handful of frozen broccoli sitting forlornly in the freezer. And with so many others going hungry, I think it’s a shame to let the food go to waste just because I’ve forgotten that they existed or I don’t know what to with them. So before they go bad and because I love to eat good food, I try to come up with different ways to creatively use leftovers — the last bits from last night’s dinner or the afore-mentioned pantry stragglers. I like trying to make the leftovers seem like an entirely new dish.

Not that serving up a reheated leftover is a bad thing. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve done it a number of times. But there are instances or, more appropriately, moods where I don’t feel like eating the same thing two or three meals in a row. And neither do Charlie and Carlo… Well, I think you guys know what I mean. So that’s where the idea for this new series of posts came from.

And for our first shared recipe, one of my best tips for using up those odds and ends is to turn them into Bibimbap.

Bibimbap, a Korean dish, is a bowl of rice mixed with various kinds of vegetables and some sort of ground meat. It is usually topped with a fried egg. Depending on taste, you could either season it with a chili paste or a soy sauce mix. (I like to do both.) But what I love best about Bibimbap is that it can generally be anything you want — all vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or carnivore-happy. It’s a one-bowl meal that is both delicious and nutritious.

Here’s the recipe I use, sauces are from my mom’s old notebooks:

Korean Bibimbap

The Every Day Project | #FightFoodWaste Recipe 1 | Korean Bibimbap

Serves:

3-4 people.

Prep time:

30 to 60 minutes (Depending on whether you’re a badass in the kitchen, or whether, like me, you have constant toddler interruptions. Ha!)

Cook time:

Roughly 60 minutes (Because you need to cook a lot of the components and set them aside separately. But believe me, the effort is all worth it.)

Main Ingredients:

  • Cooked rice (White or brown, short-grain or long-grain, it doesn’t matter. Just use whatever you like or whatever you have on hand; then, cook the amount that your family normally consumes.)
  • Some sort of green vegetable, traditionally a leafy-one like spinach. (I didn’t have either and used about 2 cups of frozen broccoli. Kale would’ve been a good substitute.)
  • Carrots (1 small one, or in my case, I used 8 baby carrots. I sliced them thinly into circles. Of course, you could go all fancy and julienne them.)
  • Shitake mushrooms (7-8 mushrooms, sliced into strips. I had the dried kind that you have to pre-soak in hot water.)
  • Corn (1 cup of kernels. I used frozen corn kernels, but it would’ve been awesome to use grilled, smoky corn now that I think about it.)
  • Red bell pepper (1 big one or 2 smaller ones, sliced into strips.)
  • Ground meat (Usually ground beef, but I figure you could also substitute ground pork, turkey, or chicken. I didn’t have any of the above and ended up throwing in sliced fish balls,the kind you put in a Chinese Hot Pot dish. They worked out pretty darn well!)
  • Garlic (Charlie, Carlo and I like a lot of garlic in our food, so I used about a total of 2-3 Tbsps of minced garlic when I sautéed the broccoli.)
  • Eggs (Typically, 1 egg for each human being you are feeding.)
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for sautéing

Note: You could actually add any of your favorite veggies or ingredients to this recipe: zucchini, bean sprouts, baked salmon, fried/baked tofu… basically whatever leftovers you have or whatever your family loves to eat. It’s all good.

Assembly:

  1. While the rice cooker is doing it’s thing you can prep the other components.
  • Spinach (or in my case, broccoli):  Sauté some garlic in vegetable/canola oil until fragrant. Toss in the spinach/broccoli/kale and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside on a serving platter.
  • Carrots: Stir fry the carrots in a little vegetable/canola oil for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt. Again to taste. Set aside on the same serving platter.
  • Red bell peppers: Same process as the carrots.
  • Shitake mushrooms: Stir-fry the thinly sliced mushrooms in a little vegetable/canola oil for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tsps low-sodium soy sauce and 1-2 tsps of brown sugar (try it with 1 tsp first to see if you like the “sweetness/savoriness” mix, then adjust to your taste). Add 1/2 tsp of sesame oil. (Sesame oil is very strong, so a little goes a long way. You can always add more after you taste it. But I was happy with just the 1/2 teaspoonful I used.) Sauté for around 2-3 more minutes. Set aside on the same serving platter.
  • Ground meat: I’ve used this recipe from Damn Delicious for the ground beef component when I include it my Bibimbap. But you could use left-over roasted chicken, shredded into strips; left-over baked fish (like salmon, or tuna, or tilapia), cut into big flaky chunks; left-over Spam (Spam!!) sliced into thin strips… the possibilities are endless.
  • Eggs: Bibimbap is generally served with a fried egg (so, one that is cooked sunny side up or over easy) but I decided to poach mine. [My trick to poaching eggs is to nuke them a microwave which I discovered here. I’ve been doing it this way for a while now because (a) it’s healthier than frying; (b) I don’t have to use, and therefore clean-up, another pan; and (c) what I’m after is the ooey gooey yolk anyway.]

2. Prepare the sauces.  These are what give that umami, yummy goodness to this dish. So sooooo good.

  • Chili Sauce:
    • 2-3 Tbsp. Gochujang or Korean Chili Paste. (I don’t usually have this on hand so I tend to substitute it with Sriracha Sauce.)
    • 1 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. water
    • 2 tsps. rice vinegar
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust quantities as desired.

  • Yangnyeomjang Sauce:
    • 3 Tbsps. low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle before-hand
    • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
    • 1 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
    • 1 tsp. brown sugar or honey
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • 2 scallions, chopped both green and white parts

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust quantities as desired.

3. Time to construct. Add a serving or two of the cooked rice to the bottom of a large bowl. Then, arrange a little bit of the components you set aside on top of the rice. Crown with the fried/poached egg.

4. Season with the Chili Sauce and/or the Yangnyeomjang Sauce to taste.

5. Lastly, break the yolk, mix every thing well, and chow down!

 

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