Flavorful beef, spicy sauce, lots of veggies
Bibimbap is among the best known Korean dishes for good reason. Marinated beef, a ton of different veggies, maybe some kimchi, rice, gochujang (a spicy pepper sauce), all topped with a fried egg, is about as satisfying as a meal gets. My dad requests it for his birthday every year, and with so much variety it does feel special. But in its basic form it can come together surprisingly quickly.
If you’ve had bibimbap at a restaurant, it’s likely arrived in a stone bowl so hot that the rice gets deliciously toasted at the bottom, and a raw egg cracked over the top can cook when it’s mixed in with the other ingredients. While I don’t deny that this is remarkably delicious, it simply isn’t practical for most of us home cooks. (Step one: buy stone bowls. Step two: preheat your oven to 700 degrees. Step three: try and fail to not burn yourself or your furniture when serving.)
The good news is that even without the stone bowl bibimbap tastes incredible. The only ingredient you might not find at your grocery store is gochujang, a spicy-sweet fermented chili paste. There’s really no substitute for this, so order some online if you don’t already have a jar in your fridge.
Is this really a quick meal?
This is a tricky question. Because it involves a number of discreet steps, chopping, mixing, and so on, the amount of time this recipe takes will vary hugely depending on cooking skills and focus. Do everything at once, marinading the meat, then starting the rice, then chopping the carrots while the rice cooks and so on, and it can be on the table in about 45 minutes. Use fewer veggies or cook them all at once and it can be even faster.
But if you’re not in a hurry, then prep everything ahead of time and expect to take a little longer. Putting the ingredients on a sheet pan in a very low oven will keep it all warm as you cook.
The ultimate one dish dinner
Follow this recipe to the letter and the result will be great, but one of the pleasures of bibimbap is its flexibility. The rice, meat, egg, and gochujang are the foundation, but after that you can do pretty much whatever you want. Onion, carrot, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, or whatever other vegetables you have in your fridge will work. Add some kimchi, bean sprouts, or seaweed strips if you feel like it.
But the best thing about bibimbap remains the point I started with – it’s delicious. The fact that it’s a complete meal in a single bowl is an added bonus. So give it a try if you’ve never had it!
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 lb lean beef, in strips precut stir fry meat, or else cut your own from the round
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- butter, lard, or neutral cooking oil as needed
- 4 medium carrots
- 1 large cooking onion
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 lb washed baby spinach
- 4 large eggs
- soy sauce
- Combine meat, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a bowl
- Combine gochujang, water, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
- Cook rice according to package or rice cooker directions
- Turn oven to its lowest setting. You will use this to keep vegetables warm as you cook them.While rice is cooking, cut onion into thin slices. Add oil to a pan set on a medium-hot burner, and saute onions, turning regularly. Cook until they are just translucent, but still have a bit of crunch. Put them in a pile on a baking sheet and place sheet in the warm oven.
- Peel carrots and slice them thin, add more oil, and cook as you did the onions. If you're reasonably fast and a good multi tasker, you can do this while doing the last step. So you'll be peeling and slicing the carrots while the onion is cooking, and you can start cooking the carrots as soon as the pan is free. When the carrots are done place them on the sheet beside the onion.
- Add another splash of oil and the sesame seeds. When they just start to brown add the spinach, and cook, then put spinach in the oven with the other veggies.
- Cook the meat in a single layer. Depending on the size of your pan you may want to do this in two batches. Brown thoroughly, but don't overcook.
- Start frying some eggs. While they're cooking, assemble bowls with rice, veggies, and meat. Top each with an egg and gochujang sauce.