The simplicity of the dish and the clean flavours from the seasoned vegetables makes it healthy, nourishing comfort food at its best, and one of Korea's most famous dishes.

Serves
4

Preparation

1hr

Cooking

1hr
20min

Skill level

Ace
By
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Yum

Ingredients

  • 440 g (15½ oz/2 cups) short-grain rice
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • seasoned English spinach (see recipe here)

Sautéd zucchini

  • 2 zucchini, unpeeled, washed
  • ½ tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Sautéd bellflower root

  • 100 g dried bellflower roots (see Notes)
  • 1 tbsp coarse cooking salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), green part only, thinly sliced

Seasoned soybean sprouts

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450 g soybean sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Sautéd fernbrake

  • 50 g dried fernbrake (see Notes)
  • pinch salt, for blanching
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Bibim sauce (Bibimjang), to serve

  • 135 g Korean chilli paste (gochujang)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Beef bulgogi

  • 220 g (8 oz) beef rib eye or scotch fillet
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

The vegetable topping components can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge.

The bellflower root needs to be soaked overnight before preparation.

  1. For the zucchini, cut the zucchini crossways into 3-mm (⅛-in) thick slices and transfer to a bowl. Add the salt and give it a quick toss, then set aside for 1 hour. Strain the zucchini in a fine-mesh sieve. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini and fry gently for 2–3 minutes or until just tender. Add the garlic, 2 tablespoons water and season to taste with salt. Sauté for another minute or until the zucchini is softened but not mushy.
  2. For the bellflower root, soak the dried bellflower roots in water for 8–12 hours, or overnight, to rehydrate. The next day, drain the water. The hydrated roots should be about 5 mm (¼ in) thick. If there are any larger pieces, split them into thinner strips. Transfer the roots to a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and mix well. Rub the roots against a chopping board for a couple of minutes to help remove the bitterness. Rinse the roots under cold running water a couple of times, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the bellflower roots for 3–4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the fish sauce and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water, and sauté for a further 8–10 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the bellflower roots have turned slightly opaque. Add the garlic and spring onion and give it a quick stir, then turn off the heat. Transfer to a serving plate and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
  4. For the soybean sprouts, prepare a bowl of iced water and set aside. Combine 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) water and the salt in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium–high heat. Add the bean sprouts and boil, covered, for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent. Do not remove the lid during cooking or the sprouts will have an unpleasant aftertaste. Once cooked, drain them immediately and refresh in the iced water for 5 minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain, shaking off any excess water, and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  5. Add the garlic, sesame seeds, spring onion, fish sauce and sesame oil and mix everything together well. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  6. For the fernbrake, put the dried fernbrake in a heatproof bowl. Bring 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) water to the boil in a kettle and pour the boiling water over the fernbrake. Leave to steep for at least 1 hour to rehydrate the fernbrake. Drain, and transfer the fernbrake to a large saucepan. Cover the fernbrake with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium–high and boil for 10 minutes or until the fernbrake has softened.
  7. Drain and rinse the fernbrake twice under cold running water. Squeeze the fernbrake gently to remove as much water as possible and set aside. Line up the stems of fernbrake, trim off any woody bits and discard, then cut the stems into 10 cm (4 in) lengths.
  8. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fernbrake and sauté for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and spring onion, and sauté for another 3 minutes or until the fernbrake has softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  9. Remove from the heat, season with pepper to taste and add the sesame oil. Give it a quick stir, then leave to cool to room temperature before serving, garnished with sesame seeds.
  10. For the bibim sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  11. Rinse the rice two or three times under cold running water to remove some of the starch. Cook the rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  12. To make the beef bulgogi, slice the beef into 5 mm (¼ in) thick strips and add them to a bowl with the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and sesame seeds. Mix until well combined, then set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
  13. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat. Fry the eggs, sunny side up, for about 2 minutes then remove and set aside. In the same pan, stir-fry the beef for 4–5 minutes, until browned. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.
  14. To assemble, place 185 g (6½ oz/1 cup) cooked rice in each serving bowl. Arrange the vegetable toppings and beef over the rice, then place a fried egg on top. Serve with a big dollop of the bibim sauce on the side.

 

Notes

Fernbrake (gosari in Korean) is also called bracken. You can find it at any Korean grocer, it usually comes dried and is sold by the packet.

Bellflower root (doraji in Korean) is also known as balloon flower and is available from any Korean grocer.

 

Recipe and images from Little Korea: Iconic Dishes and Cult Recipes by Billy Law, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99