Bibimbap

Bibimbap, a Korean dish, is colourful, nutritious and adaptable for most diets including Egg Free and Vegan where the traditional egg can be substituted.



It has been said that ‘there are as many versions of Bibimbap as there are Korean cooks’. With that in mind, this is not really a recipe as such but a few ideas from which you can create your own tasty meal.

The key is to include as much variation in colour and flavour as possible. Texture matters too: a bowl of soft rice; a crisp rice crust, if you wish; numerous vegetables prepared in a variety of ways; a ‘saucy’ fried egg per person on top (not Egg Free or Vegan); and, for an Asian flavour, sprinkled with sesame seeds (not Nut Free), sliced spring onion (not Fodmap) or dried seaweed.

The most traditional aspect of this meal is the soft fried egg on top. But, along with all the variations possible, you can: poach an egg for Low Calorie and Low Fat diets and top with nuts (not Nut Free); substitute hummus (not Fodmap) or tofu for Egg Free and Vegan diets.

What I most enjoy about preparing Bibimbap is combining cooked and raw vegetables, to which I add a range of herbs, spices and flavoured oil to provide changing taste and texture throughout the dish. Regular accompaniments I use with both cooked and raw ingredients are: ginger; garlic (not Fodmap); toasted spices such as cumin, coriander and fennel seeds; and fresh herbs such as basil, dill and chives.

Make Bibimbap a fusion with other cooking styles. For an Italian influence use risotto rice and olive oil, garlic (not Fodmap), basil leaves and tomato. For Middle Eastern flavours include lemon, olives, coriander and parsley and replace the egg with grilled halloumi for Egg Free diets (not Dairy Free or Vegan) or hummus for a Vegan diet (not Fodmap). And for an Indian taste include basmati rice, spinach, cumin, some cooked lentils (not Fodmap) and a little chilli.
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As you see, Bibimbap is a very versatile meal. You can use all the odd remaining pieces of vegetable and herbs (and cold meat) to prepare a quick and attractive meal. It also makes a vibrant dish at a dinner party. Present it in a large pan in the centre of the table — it will be a ‘show stopper’. Use a nonstick frying pan, a heavy cast iron pan or a paella pan, adjusting the heat as necessary.

Select rice of your choice. If you are frying the rice for a crusty base, I find both sushi and risotto rice are perfect. Using a little sesame oil (not Nut Free) will provided a nutty flavour and a good balance when you sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.

The recipe below is very simple, not dissimilar to a vegetable stir fry — although here all the ingredients are separate with their own flavouring and texture. Do not be discouraged by the long list of instructions — it is the variety of vegetables and their individual preparation that makes it look such a chore to prepare but the reality is that it is not.

Diets for which Bibimbap is suitable:

Diabetic, Dairy Free, EggFree, Fodmap, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Nut Free, Vegetarian and Vegan.

Ingredients

Preparation: 15 mins (soaking rice and preparing vegetables)| Cook: 30 mins (Cook rice, vegetables and eggs)| Serves: 2-3

1 cup sushi rice*
1/4 salt
1 eggplant**
6-10 fresh basil leaves
5 baby leeks (not Fodmap)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (not Fodmap)
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cups sliced spinach leaves
1 clove garlic (not Fodmap)
1 large carrot
1 cup snap peas (not Fodmap)
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp sesame oil (optional, not Nut Free)
2-6 eggs (not Egg Free or Vegan)***
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (optional, not Nut Free)****


spicy sauce to serve

Method

RINSE the rice in water and soak for 15 minutes.
RINSE and cook in 1.5 cups of water and 1/4 tsp salt.
BOIL and reduce the heat to simmer for 12-15 minutes. (All the water will have been absorbed and the rice will be soft.)
SLICE the eggplant, approximately 1/2 cm / 1/4 inch.
SLICE the leeks.
PEEL and crush the garlic.
PEEL and julienne the carrot. (Use a mandolin if you have one or finely slice by hand.)
SLICE the snap peas lengthwise, 2-3 slices depending on the size.
HEAT the 2 tsp oil in a frying pan.
ADD the eggplant and leeks.
COOK the leeks for 5+ minutes, stirring continuously until lightly coloured.
COOK the eggplant for 2-3 minutes until coloured and turn to cook the reverse side for the same time.
REMOVE the leeks and eggplant from the pan, when cooked.
CUT the eggplant into smaller pieces and add the basil.
TOAST the coriander seeds for one minute and add the mushroom (adding a little oil if necessary).
STIR continuously until lightly browned.
REMOVE from the pan.
ADD 1 tsp oil and the crushed garlic and cook for one minute.
ADD the spinach and stir continuously until wilted.
REMOVE from the pan.
HEAT 1-2 tsp oil (try sesame oil mix) to a high temperature and add the rice, pressing it into a flat layer.
COOK at a high to medium temperature for 10-15 minutes until the base has a crust.***** ( Check under the base to ensure the base is slowly browning.)
REMOVE from the heat.
HEAT 1 tsp oil to a hot temperature and fry the eggs.***
TOP the rice with the numerous vegetables, then the eggs and sesame seeds.

Serve

– In individual rice bowls.
– In a large pan allowing people to serve themselves.
– Provide a spicy sauce on the side.

Notes

* Use your favourite rice.
** Select your own mix of vegetables with herbs and spices to accompany.
*** Poach the egg for Low Calorie and Low Fat diets. For Egg Free and Vegan diets replace the egg. Some suggestions are fried tofu, hummus, grilled halloumi (not Vegan).
**** Other suggested toppings for Bibimbap are fried onion (not Fodmap), sliced spring onion (not Fodmap), dried seaweed.
***** A crusty fried base is not essential and not recommended for Low Calorie and Low Fat diets. Dish steamed rice and top as suggested.

Variations

– Steam the rice in cooked flavoured broth, particularly when the rice will not be fried.
– Vegetable combinations to try:
Soy sauce-glazed snap peas
Grilled shiitake mushrooms
Sesame and carrot
Raw zucchini ribbons
Cucumber matchsticks
Julienned radish
Sprouts

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