Making do with what you have: not really bibimbap

Not really, but sort of, bibimbap

Sort of bibimbap ready to be stirred.

This isn’t my recipe for bibimbap and what I did doesn’t really constitute a proper recipe any way. I doubt even I would be able to replicate the random substituted ingredients if I made this again, let alone anyone else. If you want a proper recipe for bibimbap I suggest you follow Hollowlegs recipe that I adapted to make this version.

Rather than providing a clear and reliable recipe this post is here to show that you don’t have to follow a recipe exactly to make something that tastes good, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have exactly the right ingredients or even equipment. Cooking, as with life, is all about doing the best with what you’ve got, and that is precisely what I tried to do here. Oh, and when in doubt consult the internet.

Below is Hollowlegs original recipe with my substitutions, amendments and notes added in italics where appropriate.

Bastardised, sort of but not really Dolsot Bibimbap

Serves 2

Any vegetables, but Hollowlegs used…

  • 4 cherry tomatoes (I didn’t have any in)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 courgette
  • 3 handfuls of spinach (I didn’t have any in)
  • A handful of marinated beansprouts (I didn’t have any in)
  • 1 egg
  • 100gr fillet steak, or minced beef (I replaced this with the same amount of firm silken tofu)
  • 1 spring onion (I used two)
  • 150gr sushi rice (I used the same quantity of brown basmati rice because it was all I had in the house, actually I think 100g would have been enough)
  • (To replace the missing spinach, tomatoes and beansprouts I used a large handful of frozen peas)

For the marinade:
(I halved the quantities for this and found I had enough)

  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (1tbsp sherry)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (1tbsp reserved, matured, spiced pickling syrup leftover from making pickled pears the Christmas before last)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (1/2 tsp sesame oil)

For the chilli sauce:
(As with the marinade I halved the quantities for my concoction and found I had exactly the right amount)

  • 2 tbsp Korean chilli paste (Gochujang) (After some intense Googling, and in particular this Wikipedia page and this BBC Food page I found an indication that Gochujang was pretty much chilli miso paste. So I replaced it with 1 tbsp of barley miso mixed with 1/2 tsp ground chilli powder)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar (Replaced with 1/2 tbsp sherry and 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar)
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, chopped finely (I just used a skinny clove)
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce (I used about 3/4 tbsp dark soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (1/2 tsp sesame oil)

If you’re using a stone bowl, these can be heated on the hob. Alternatively if you’re using a clay pot it’s better to put it into a cold oven and heat it up to 200 degrees 15 minutes before cooking.

(As I had didn’t have a stone bowl or a clay pot I used a small ceramic casserole dish instead which I heated following the clay pot instructions above.)

Firstly, put the rice on to cook. You can do this in a rice cooker, or by simply following the instructions on the packet. Make the marinated beansprouts if not done in advance. Julienne the courgette and carrot, slice the spring onions. All the vegetables should be kept separate. Make up the marinade and divide in two – dump the raw beef slices in the marinade. If using mince, fry it in a non stick pan, then add to the marinade. Make up the chilli sauce by combining all of the above in a bowl.

(Apart from the missing beansprouts to marinade I pretty much did everything as instructed. As I was using tofu instead of steak or mince I sliced it and browned each piece on both sides in a lightly oiled frying pan. The browned tofu pieces then went into the marinade to sit. Maybe I should have marinaded the tofu slices before frying, but they tasted fine to me.)

Here comes the faff. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Get a steamer on (or a small pan of boiling water) and steam the spinach until just cooked. Add to a sieve to get rid of any water. Then add the courgette, steam until just done, and then add the carrots and, like before, steam until just done. Put all the elements, separately, in the clean marinade for a few moments and then place on a plate. To assemble, wipe the stone pot or the clay pot with a little sesame oil. Add a thin layer of rice to the pot – it should sizzle – and place it back on the heat / in the oven so that it heats up and cooks the layer of rice to form a bit of a crust. Then add the rest of the rice, and top it with the meat and vegetables, arranging it nicely (or how you please). Top with a raw egg. Bring it to tableside (remember to use an oven glove… ) with the bowl of chilli sauce. The eater then stirs the pot around, cooking the beef slices a little and the egg.

(Again I basically just followed Hollowlegs instructions, the only differences being those of ingredients and equipment that I’ve already mentioned above.)

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