Batter Licker

September 2, 2011

bibimbap (korean mixed vegetable and brown rice salad with spicy-sweet chili pepper paste)

A three-day weekend is upon (most of) us, and this time around, that means Jay and I will be attending no less than 5 different get-togethers with family and friends. We certainly get our socializing on.

For once, I don’t think I will be cooking for any one of them. (If I am, no one has told me yet, although they could very well be operating under the general assumption that, where meal-time events are involved, I tend to come bearing the fruits of my kitchen labor. I should probably hit the market tomorrow just in case.) But if I find out that someone would like me to contribute a dish, I would be delighted to throw together this version of bibimbap, mostly because it can be thrown together quite quickly while still delivering an unexpectedly flavorful result. Especially for something that is essentially a mixed veggies and rice salad.

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In my favorite Korean restaurants, bibimbap is served in an extremely hot stone bowl, coated with just a bit of sesame oil that causes the cooked rice to develop a delicious toasted crispiness around the edges. But the beauty of this dish is that everything can be prepared in advanced, and it will still function equally well at room temperature or slightly chilled, making it well-suited for potlucks and barbecues but more interesting than the starchy side dishes typical of those types of events.

This time around, I cooked up some brown rice, then tossed grated zucchini and carrots in toasted sesame oil for a 2-minute saute. Arrange the zucchini, carrots, cucumber, and kimchi (and meat, if you choose to use some – and it would be a wonderful use for leftovers from one of the inevitable barbecues happening this weekend) in colorful patches over the brown rice for a presentation that’s much more beautiful than the haphazard mess I threw down for an impromptu dinner. Plop a few fried eggs on top – one for each person.

But please, for the love of visual appeal, let guests individually douse their bibimbap in the spicy-sweet gochujang (Korean chili paste) for less of a bloody roadkill appearance than what I did here while under extreme duress due to threats coming from my growling tummy. (more…)

August 26, 2011

fake kimchi (or: how sauerkraut saved bibimbap)

As my facebook followers already know, two weeks ago, I stood in an aisle at Whole Foods, paralyzed by a $7 jar of kimchi. When an entire head of cabbage would run me only $1, $7 for a jar containing maybe 1/6th head of cabbage seemed outrageous, even for Whole Foods prepared products. But I didn’t have a few days to let my own cabbage ferment, as bibimbap was the dinner plan for that very night and the veggies I had grated the day before were not going to stay crunchy for another day.

Why and how had I planned so carefully ahead and done the prep work, but utterly forgotten such an essential ingredient?!?

Then I remembered the giant, unopened jar of sauerkraut, left in my refrigerator by my mother a few months back when we had forgotten to use it with some meal or another. (more…)

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