Bulgogi Bibimbop

Bulgogi and Bibimbop are Korean dishes. Bulgogi, a marinated meat dish meaning “fire meat” because of the technique used to cook it, most often comes in the form of beef. The beef is thinly sliced, marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and mirin and then grilled to coax out as much flavor as possible. The meat is juicy, sweet and heavenly when properly prepared. Bibimbop on the other hand is a mixed dish of rice, vegetables and meat, topped with a fried egg and hot pepper paste. Chefs of Bibimbop often incorporate spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, or bean sprouts, but you can include whatever your taste buds prefer.

I’ve had my fair share of Bulgogi at Marigny favorite¬†The Three Muses. Their version, is essentially a combination of the two dishes and includes a crunchy and tangy kimchi and marinated beef. I recently found myself thinking of that dish and decided to create my own version at home. For my first attempt I wanted to keep it relatively simple, so I chose three basic vegetables: carrots, spinach and mushrooms. I also steered clear of kimchi, as the smell can be quite overwhelming. Last but not least, I was unable to find hot chili sauce at my local market, but picked up a passable substitute in Peruvian Aji Panca Paste, which makes up in heat what it lacks in flavor. Not off to auspicious beginnings, but despite my substitutes and omissions the meal was quite delicious. The meat, just barely seared. The veggies, still slightly crisp. And the fried egg, runny and fresh. When you mix the ingredients together just before eating the result is a pungent, dynamic stew of competing textures and flavors.

Bulgogi Bibimbop (serves 2)

For the Bulgogi

.5 lbs thinly sliced sirloin
1/3 cup soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 yellow onion, sliced in slivers
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp mirin
1-inch piece of ginger diced
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl mix all ingredients save the beef and onions. Mix thoroughly allowing the sugar to dissolve. Add the onions and beef and let marinate 1 hour. Stirring occasionally. When ready to cook, heat a griddle pan or grill on high heat and sear the beef and onions until just beginning to brown. Set aside in a 200F oven to keep warm.

For the Bibimbop

2 cups long grain rice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp mirin
2 eggs
1 carrot, thinly sliced
3.5 oz shitake, thinly sliced
5 oz package spinach
3 tsp sesame seeds
3  tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, diced
sea salt and pepper to taste
red pepper sauce

Prepare you vegetables. Thinly slice the carrots and shitakes and set them aside. Quickly blanch eat vegetable, cooking each for no more then two minutes. After you remove each from the boiling water, plunge them into a cold bath to stop the cooking. Separately mix each vegetable with 1 tsp sesame seeds, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 diced garlic clove and a pinch of salt. Set aside in a 200F oven to keep warm.

Cook two cups of rice according the the directions (usually with 3 cups of water). When fully cooked add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar and 1 tbsp mirin. The combination will give the rice a lovely sour flavor. If you prefer to omit these ingredients feel free to do so.

When you are ready to compile the dish cook two eggs in a frying pan until they are “sunny side up” or the yolks are just runny.

Place one large spoonful of rice in a large bowl. Place half of each vegetable and half of the beef on the rice. Top with a fried egg and then top with as much Hot Chili Sauce as you like.

Just before you eat the dish, pop the egg yolk and thoroughly mix all of the ingredients.

My mouth is watering just writing this!