Bibimbap is essentially a rice salad once prepared by farmers as a way of using leftover food. In Korea you see many different versions of the two classics, hot in an iron pot or cold in a brass or metal pot. In Joenju, the home of bibimbap – where I got to take part in the annual festival celebrating this classic Korean dish – the latter is the more common, topped with cooked or raw beef, always a beautiful yellow egg yolk, sesame seeds and homemade chilli sauce. It’s the chilli sauce that often gives the bibimbap its own style or character.
The art of bibimbap is in the variety of colour – yellow, white, green, deep reds and orange – and the chilli sauce.
- 1 carrot, finely shredded
- ⅓ cup sesame oil
- 1 small daikon, finely shredded
- 1 bunch bracken (available at Korean food stores)
- 1 handful wild greens / spinach, washed
- 1 bunch garlic chives
- ⅓ cup peanut oil
- 4 chestnuts peeled, husk removed, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced thinly
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 200 g good quality beef fillet
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp red chilli paste (gochujang)
- 1 tbsp apple vinegar
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- ½ tbsp castor sugar
- 1 tbsp water (if needed)
- 2 cups Korean rice, steamed
- 1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed, cut into batons
- 4 egg yolks
- pinch black pepper
- flaked salt
- ½ cup ginko nuts, shelled, blanched and husks removed
- 4 sheets laver (seaweed)
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.
Place a medium-sized pot of water over a high heat and bring to the boil, then add a pinch of salt. Blanch the shredded carrot for 1 minute or until just tender and remove into ice water with a lifter. Drain and place onto paper towel and sprinkle with a little sesame oil, set aside. Repeat for daikon, bracken, wild greens or spinach and garlic chives.
Place a small non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the peanut oil, add the chestnut slices and fry until golden, drain onto paper towel and repeat for the garlic slices.
Remove the oil from the pan and discard, wipe out and place back on a high heat. Add a dash of sesame oil and add the bean sprouts to the pan. Cook for 1 minute tossing regularly. Tip out onto a plate and allow to cool.
Dice the beef finely and place into a small bowl add a dash of sesame oil, pinch of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of sesame seeds, mix and taste. Set aside.
Place the gochujang into a small bowl and add the apple cider vinegar, dash of sesame oil, ginger and sugar, stir to combine; if required add a dash of water to loosen into a sauce consistency.
Place a cup of cooked rice in the bottom of each serving bowl. Arrange the carrots, daikon, bracken, cucumber, bean sprouts, chives and greens neatly around the rice - it’s all about the colour and making the bipimbap look beautiful. Place a little pile of the beef in the middle and pop the egg yolk on top. Sprinkle with a few ginko nuts next to the beef, spoon two tablespoons of gochujung sauce next to the beef and sprinkle the yolk with toasted sesame seeds.
Sprinkle a few crunchy chestnuts and garlic slices in the centre of the bipimbap. Finally wave a sheet of laver gently over an open flame to char the seaweed. Repeat with the remaining sheets and then carefully break each sheet into three and pop on and around the bipimbab.