Saturday 29 August 2009

Dolsot Bibimbap - Well, Kind Of...

I say not quite because 'dolsot' means stone pot, and I used a clay pot. I cheated... but I prefer to say I improvised.

Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish. The word translates to 'mixed meal', and it consists of a dish of rice topped with vegetables, usually placed together to be aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes, slices of beef, chicken or tofu are also added.

I love Korean food. Kimchi, a spicy fermented vegetable (usually cabbage) dish, is a regular in my fridge. You can smell it a mile off and it's really tasty stuff either just eaten with rice, as a side or added to stir fried dishes. When I was a kid my mum used to take my sister and I to Korean restaurants and we loved the barbeque aspect of it, cooking your own food. My dad (who, incidentally, has started his own blog; check it out) was less enthusiastic, commenting that he thought it strange to pay for the privilege of having to cook your own food. But I found that's what I liked about it. Sadly I've noticed that in London Korean restaurants they usually have waiting staff to stand over you and cook your barbeque for you which I find a bit awkward.

Anyway, the bibimbap is a dish we usually order, and in particular this dolsot bibimbap. The stone pots used to serve this dish are heated until very hot, then wiped round with sesame oil. The rice is then added, along with the other ingredients and topped with a raw egg. You then mix it all up and it sizzles nicely, with the residual heat cooking the egg in the process, coating the grains in silky luxuriousness. The great thing about the dolsot is that you get a lovely layer of brown, crusty rice from the bottom that provides a great texture to your meal.

I decided to make this with my clay pot. I have used it only once before and I thought it was high time I got more use out of it. It worked fantastically well. Even though the sizzle was less enthusiastic, the end result worked. It doesn't take long to do; about the amount of time it takes to cook the rice, but there is a hefty amount of prep work involved. In any case, I like chopping vegetables. You can buy stone pots in Korean supermarkets or use a clay pot from a Chinese supermarket. If you use the latter, please follow these instructions on how to use it or you may end up with exploding clay...

Dolsot Bibimbap
Serves 2

Any vegetables really, but I used...
4 cherry tomatoes
1 carrot
1 courgette
3 handfuls of spinach
A handful of marinated beansprouts (Sukju Namul - I used this recipe)
1 egg
100gr fillet steak, or I used minced beef
1 spring onion
150gr sushi rice

For the marinade:

3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

For the chilli sauce:

2 tbsp Korean chilli paste (Gochujang)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 fat clove of garlic, chopped finely
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

If you're using a stone bowl, these can be heated on the hob. As I was using a clay pot and was a bit scared of putting it on a naked flame on only it's second outing, I placed it into a cold over and heated it up to 200 degrees 15 minutes before I started cooking.

Firstly, put the rice on to cook. I did this in a rice cooker, but if you haven't got one follow the instructions on the packet. I imagine you could also do this with jasmine rice. I then made the marinated beansprouts, but this could be 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.

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 place. 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... I didn't) with the bowl of chilli sauce. The eater then stirs the pot around, cooking the beef slices a little and the egg.


Charlie McVeigh said...

Need to explore Korean food further (great blog comme toujours). That said, for a hilarious take on Korea and the effects of Kim Chee you could do worse than read Holidays in Hell - PJ O'Rourke.

tehbus said...

I have only really started trying out Korean food and I am beoming quite enamoured with it.

Excellent rendition of bibimbap, btw. Didn't really think it was something you could make at home, but yours looks the real deal.

Anonymous said...

I've never tried this, but have heard wonderful things about it, it's great to have an authentic recipe, thanks for this. Your Dad's blog is brilliant, I like the way it combines my love of both food and politics - fantastic!

Helen said...

This looks awesome. I've never had a bibimbap. I must try. The idea of clay pot exploding scares me a lot.

Su-Lin said...

I love the packets of bibimbap toppings you can buy in New Malden... I have yet to make it from scratch. Think I might skip the dolsot part though... I've only got a donabe and I think it will crack.

Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

Fantastic! I want to buy a stone pot now. This is one of my favourite dishes (best had at Koba, I say!)

Food Urchin said...

The only thing at home I could try this with is a chicken brick which I reckon would blow up. Would need to get to a chinese supermarket methinks.

Looks good though!

Naimah said...

incredible. i think a clay pot is a great addition to the dish. i love korean food as well! im getting everyone i know to eat kimchi because i grew up eating it at my friend's house. i might even get my courage together and try this recipe! Naimah

Niamh said...

Charlie, Holidays in Hell is great! Lizzie, I have a copy if you want to borrow.

I've seen this in Korean restaurants on St Giles High St and am so keen to try. Looks great!

pigpigscorner said...

Great idea using claypot, love the burnt rice. My claypot cracked after I put it on an electric hob =(