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Wednesday Food: Bibimbap v. Furious

Bibimbap is a Korean dish of mixed vegetables over rice.  It’s straightforward and not especially exotic but comforting and restorative.  The preparation is more time consuming than expected.  Vegetables and protein– beef or tofu most commonly– are julienned or finely sliced, then individually seasoned and cooked (fried or parboiled).  Served on a bed of rice, the ingredients are arranged in a striking wheel of alternating colors.

For online resources, I liked Zenkimchi, which is stacked with instructional videos, but often buries their written recipes.  Seouleats will provide you with a culinary guide to South Korea’s capital city.  Though unfortunately named and visually overwhelming, Koreafornian Cooking is informative and reimagines traditional Korean food from a California perspective.

To drink with your bowl of bibimbap, I would suggest a glass of Soju– as mild and slightly sweet as the food it accompanies.  Or you can throw pairing caution to the wind and decompress after a particularly trying day with a glass of Surly Furious.  It will completely overwhelm the delicate flavors of the vegetables that you took so much time to prepare, but hell, sometimes a girl just needs a seriously hoppy beer.


March 16, 2011 - Posted by | Wednesday Food


  1. Also called a ‘garbage’ plate

    I’ve never heard this before, and am trying to imagine what this might be a translation of. Googling the term takes me to the Zenkimchi site that you link above, but the reference is to another (non-Korean) dish.

    Comment by jms | March 17, 2011

  2. My favorite ever bi bim bap was in Incheon, home of the international airport about an hour from Seoul. Mrs. K-sky and I had a 12-hour layover on the way back from our Thailand honeymoon, and the airport offered bus tours based on the length of time you had between flights — with 2 hours you could see the fishing village in Incheon, with 8 hours you could get a huge taste of Seoul.

    I researched our options beforehand, and we decided that our best course of action was to buy a bootleg Season One of Veronica Mars on the street in Bangkok and hole up in a hotel room that turned out to have an incredibly complex remote control for the lights, temperature, DVD, TV, and toilet. We made it through four episodes, went out for some excellent bi bim bap, and came back for two more.

    Comment by k-sky | March 17, 2011

  3. Thanks for catching that, jms. I knew it wasn’t a literal translation but thought it may be colloquial. It sort of seems to apply. How’s the solar oven coming? I’m moving back to California in a few months and I’m eager to try one out.

    K-Sky– we should all be so lucky as to find ourselves so at home in foreign travels. (It cracks me up every time you refer to the Mrs. as such.)

    Comment by ebolden | March 17, 2011

  4. Sadly, there’s been no solar cooking for me lately — it’s been too cloudy and the days have been too short. But I plan to start up again very soon. What part of California will you be moving to?

    My favorite kind of bibimbap is dolsot bibimbap, which is served in a superhot stone pot that crisps the rice on the bottom. I’m trying to remember where it was that I had the very best bibimbap ever (I want to say it was Jeju-do, but as I recall there were a lot of restaurants in the one area that specialized in this particular preparation, and Google doesn’t indicate any such cluster in Jeju). In any case, it was a kind of dolsot bibimbap that was served in a special white alabaster pot. It may be that it was just a short Korean culinary trend (it’s a very trend-driven food culture) that’s over now. I was told that the alabaster crisped the rice in a more delicious way than regular stone, and because I love a gimmick I believed. But also, the kosari and doraji and other vegetable components were better than generally available in stateside restaurants.

    Bibimbap is one of those things I never, ever, ever make at home, because to do it right takes forever. Your preparation of it looks delicious.

    Comment by jms | March 17, 2011

  5. Persons in a position to make recommendations for korean food in San Francisco are hereby encouraged to make them. I am aware of only two apparently good places.

    Comment by ben | March 17, 2011

  6. Oddly, I’ve never been to an especially good Korean restaurant in San Francisco. There were a couple of decent places in Oakland, as I recall, and some decent grocery stores near the Japan center. I ended up cooking Korean food at home a lot, since I couldn’t find any restaurants I liked. Maybe it’s different now, but really, you should just come to LA.

    Comment by jms | March 17, 2011

  7. No doubt.

    Comment by ben | March 17, 2011

  8. I’m moving in with my sister this summer in San Diego. It’s not very high up on my list of cities but I’m hoping the availability of produce, solid beer bars, and fresh seafood convince me otherwise.

    The dolsot version was my initial ambition, but where does one buy a stone bowl these days? Let alone alabaster?!?! I suppose a small cast iron would work just as well. Or I could just dine out. I am in one of the best asian neighborhoods in Chicago.

    I really loved this dish but it would have been better suited for a Sunday afternoon. Beginning at 8:30 on a weeknight with only one pot and one frying pan delayed my supping until 11.

    Comment by ebolden | March 17, 2011

  9. Apparently one buys them at korean grocery stores.

    Comment by ben | March 17, 2011

  10. Use your interweb sorcery to find one in alabaster, Ben!

    Comment by ebolden | March 17, 2011

  11. I love San Diego. Of all the cities in these united States, it has the best weather and the best fish tacos. Also, very good bloody marys. These attributes may even come close to making up for its shitty mayor, worse city attorney and genuinely shocking attitudes towards organized labor.

    Also, k-sky? 12 hours in Incheon with season 1 of V. Mars and bibimbap sounds like the awesomest honeymoon ever.

    Comment by jms | March 18, 2011

  12. Yeah, it was pretty dope.

    I don’t think I know anyone else who loves San Diego. I’ll have to get your recommendations some time.

    Comment by k-sky | March 18, 2011

  13. Yeah, we’ll see how it goes. I grew up a beach person and I’ll be a few short blocks from it. The major realization I’ve had since having left California though?– I can’t stand beach people.

    Though I am looking forward to lobster diving with the neighbors.

    Comment by ebolden | March 18, 2011

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