As an advocate of vegetables, here in South Korea, I have fallen for the humble Bibimbap. Bibimbap is a Korean dish composed of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, gochujang (Korean chilli paste), and sometimes with the addition of a raw or fried egg.
And if that hasn’t quite sold you, bibimbap best represents the abstract concept of hansik (another term for Korean cuisine) as the dish combines the five colours, green, red, yellow, white and black, is intended to represent the five elements: water, fire, wood, metal and earth in which make up the universe, how is that for food for thought.
Origin of Bibimbap
There are different stories regarding the origin of bibimbap. One story is that ancestral rituals were performed in the countryside away from home and after the rituals, instead of bringing all the foods back home which was cumbersome, the people mixed together all the foods in one big bowl and ate them all. Another story is that bibimbap came from the ancient custom of mixing leftover cooked rice with all the remaining side dishes and eating it as a midnight snack on the eve of Lunar New Year. Another story is that while working out in the fields, the farmers mixed together all the nutritious ingredients in one big bowl to have a quick and healthy meal.
Total time: 40 minutes
- Bean sprouts
- 2 eggs
(Feel free to swap vegetables in and out depending on season and preference, mushrooms are great)
- Start by cooking the rice, either in a pan or using a rice cooker.
- Prepare the vegetables by finely chopping them, keeping them separate from each other.
- Begin lightly frying the vegetables with salt one at a time, starting with the lightest coloured vegetable and moving on to darker and more vibrant vegetables.
- Once all the vegetables have been fried, place them into a bowl on a bed of rice.
- Fry your eggs, then placing them on top of the vegetables.
- Place your eggs on top of the vegetables.
- Add gochujang to your taste.
If you’re in South Korea and want to learn more about Korean food, I recommend taking a cooking class, for those familiar with the city of Daegu the YMCA cultural programme often runs free cooking classes.