What Do You Know About Bibimbap?
I remember the first time I ever had bibimbap. I vividly remember the stone bowl, the squirts of Korean hot sauce and most particularly the feeling of relief it wasn’t another night of heavy Korean BBQ. There was a time in my life where I was probably eating KBBQ every month and that gets a bit crazy. A simple bowl of colorful veggies, rice, delicious sauce and maybe some nibbles of egg or meat was relatively new to me almost 10 years ago.
So when I was by Christina of Hot Pink Manolos to check out the Bibimbap Backpackers event at the Korean Cultural Center, I was pretty excited. The Backpackers have been traveling the world to introduce Korean food. They’re currently on their US tour and had gone to NYC and SF before hitting Los Angeles.
Bibim means to “mix.” I already knew “bap” meant rice so bibimbap roughly translates as “mixed rice.”
We started with chips and a dip made with kimchi and mayo. Now I know a super easy dip to make. Since it was so smooth, I thought it had been finely blended. Then we had a few appetizers including mini dumplings and spicy rice cakes.
Before we got to make our own bowls, we were given a couple of examples. One had pork belly and the other was vegetarian using tofu as the protein. They were tasty but it was time to make our own!
Remember, bibimbap means to mix. Curiously, the Backpackers mentioned how a lot of Korean girls eat this when they’re broken hearted or happy as evidenced by the Korean dramas (soap operas). It is a true comfort food dish. I do remember a friend told me she would make a sort of mock version by getting out rice, whatever banchan she had and dumping in the Korean red pepper paste, salt and sesame oil. Mix it all up and you got an ad hoc bibimbap.
I happened to glance over at Christina and saw she had created a masterpiece. I’d say she got closer to being neat than I did!
One of the interesting appetizers I had that day was making a omelette with japchae. One of the Backpackers told us the idea came from a Chicago chef. I could imagine serving this for a light lunch with the salad. Maybe add a bit of grilled meat (spam!) but really it’s the perfect combo of protein, starch and greens already.
I wonder how easy it’d be to have a bibimbap crawl?
© The Minty 2013