Bibim bap, literally translated is “mixed rice” or as I like to call it, mix-leftovers-with-rice-because-I’m-too-lazy-to-cook bowl. This is a dish that I usually associate with summer since we ate a lot of it as a kid during the hot months. And with the abundance from my dad’s vegetable garden, there was an abundance of banchan. Thus, an abundance of leftovers.
Really, it doesn’t have to be that elaborate. Sometimes I’ll take leftover roasted chicken, sautéed kale and mix it altogether with a scoop of rice, sauce, and voilà…a wonderful meal. The only limitations are your imagination! I’ve seen a couple of recipes that include fish and I’ve made vegetarian versions that include sautéed tofu or seitan. In the summer, you can throw in a few fresh leaves of lettuce. Red leaf or bibb lettuce are perfect! You get the idea.
The yang nyum jang sauce brings everything together. It can truly make or break the meal. There are pre-made or bottled sauce that you can purchase, but you can easily make this at home and adjust the seasoning to your taste. If you need to tune down the heat, you can add a little ketchup (it’s not as bad as it sounds!) which is what my mom does for my father who can’t stomach spicy foods any more. This could also be a good option for younger tots.
Hey, there’s even ‘space biibimbap’ for an out-of-this-world meal.
So mix it up and go crazy!
You need at least three essential components for bibim bap:
- cooked medium grain rice (I prefer the Nishiki brand)
- at least two banchan (seasoned vegetables)
- yang nyum jang sauce a.k.a. the spicy red pepper sauce (recipe below)
Protein is optional and some friends have told me that a fried egg is essential. The following list is my favorite combination of banchan which is similar to what is shown in the photo above. I love the varying shades of green.
1 – To plate this dish, a large shallow soup bowl or an individual pasta bowl will work. Place about 1/2 cup of rice in the center. Place generous spoonfuls of each ingredient around the rice as shown in the first picture above. If you have some roasted gheem (seaweed or nori) on hand, you can sprinkle that on top.
2 – Add desired amount yang nyum jang sauce (1 or 2 tablespoons should be enough) and mix everything together until everything is coated in red!
3 – Of course, if you’re alone and really hungry, just throw everything in bowl and mix like crazy!
Sautéed shiitake mushrooms
8 oz. of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 – Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
2 – Sauté mushrooms until tender, about 10 minutes. Salt to taste.
1 medium zucchini
1 garlic clove, minced
1 – Halve the zucchini lengthwise and slice thinly crosswise so you end up with thinly sliced semi-circles.
2 – Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
2 – Sauté zucchini and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Salt to taste.
Kimchi Mom’s Yang Nyum Jang sauce
Yields a scant 1/2 cup
1/8 cup (or 4 Tablespoons) kochujang (fermented red pepper paste)
1 1/2 Tablespoons white vingear
1 1/2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
In a small mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. You can keep the finished sauce refrigerated for up to a week. (Sometimes I let it go longer!) Note: crush the sesame seeds between your fingers as you add it to the bowl. It adds a little more flavor.
Note: If you need to go easy on the heat, start with a tablespoon of sauce and add double amount of ketchup. Add more if needed. The kick will still be there, but a bit mellowed by the ketchup.