Before we get into today’s post, my recipe for chicken, tofu & mushroom dumplings is up in an international recipe battle for Mushroom Masters on the Tastespotting blog! Please take the time to click this link and vote for me!
With a cherry on top?
The letter directly underneath this image contains some ranting and frothing at the mouth. If you are of a delicate nature and can’t stand this sort of unladylike behavior then I urge you to skip it entirely and go straight to the recipe.
For those of you of a tougher constitution, please read on…
Dear Jill Dupleix,
I’ve always thought that you weren’t too bad of a recipe creator. I have just one of your books, but the handful of recipes that I’ve tried from it have turned out pretty alright. Simple, easy, nothing that flash, but pretty alright. So as far as cookbook authors go, I’ve always considered you to be somewhat trustworthy (more so than, for example, Donna Hay).
However, it was brought to my attention that you decided to publish a recipe for bibimbap, a classic Korean dish and one that we, as a nation, adore.
And then I actually saw a copy of the recipe from your book, and laughed hysterically. And then I was pissed off. And then I laughed hysterically again.
Despite what you may think, I’m not a maniac – that’s just how absolutely LAUGHABLE your recipe was.
I have just one thing to say to you – THAT IS NOT BIBIMBAP! DO NOT MESS WITH MY CULTURE!
Look, by all means, say that your recipe is inspired by the Korean dish, but do not proclaim that it is actually the real thing as that will just give people the wrong impression of what the dish entails, and god forbid they actually walk into a Korean restaurant and tell the chef “that’s not how Jill Dupleix does it”.
Because you know that there will be at least ONE person in this world who does.
I hope you’ll take this into consideration the next time you’re thinking about bastardizing another culture’s cuisine.
Ellie, the Kitchen Wench
P.S. My mother, who I also shared your recipe with, would like me to pass on a message. That message is “*(^)(%^$&@@^T(^@@^)&!!!!!”
Now I’ve posted about bibimbap before (back in 2007), back before David Chang and Roy Choi brought Korean cuisine to the attention of the international stage, but after seeing bastardization after bastardization of this beloved dish of mine, I felt like it was time to revisit it as the understanding of what this dish entails seems to be diluted and/or lost.
So, let’s go to what this dish means to those of us who are of Korean heritage.
I doubt that there is a single Korean family anywhere in the world who hasn’t had this dish at least once, regardless of what country they were brought up in. The reason for this is that culturally, bibimbap is how we use up leftovers.
To be more specific, it’s typically how we use up day-old rice and the last little bits of banchan (side dishes) rolling around in the fridge.
For those of you who are somewhat unfamiliar with Korean cuisine, every meal is always served with an array of side dishes. While kimchi is quite standard (in fact, I’m bemused when it’s not on the table. Even if dinner happens to be pizza), the rest will vary according to what is in season and what the mother feels like making. There’s no hard and fast rule for this, but as a cuisine with very little “fresh” vegetables in it’s repertoire, it’s the way that most of us get our vegetable intake. Blanched spinach tossed with toasted sesame oil and freshly crushed garlic, sauteed zucchini, wilted bean shoots, dried (and rehydrated) marinated fern bracken – there is an infinite number of side dishes which can be made and stored in the fridge at any one time.
However, after eating the same side dishes for a number of days, any family’s interest usually wanes and there may be just a few spoonfuls of each dish left sadly in each plastic container.
It is at this stage that the rice leftover from last night’s meal is trotted out, and all the banchan tossed in rather unceremoniously with a heap of gochujang (Korean chilli paste), toasted sesame oil and (usually) a fried egg.
It’s the turn-to meal when we’re tired or simply can’t be bothered cooking, or just need to get rid of whatever banchan is nearing the end of it’s life before fresh dishes are made up.
Of course, this isn’t how it’s done in any Korean restaurant you may go to, but as far as I’m concerned, bibimbap will forever be a glorious, haphazard mix of flavour and texture that I turn to whenever I like!
(serves 4-5 people)
2x medium zucchini
2x medium onions
2x small-medium carrots
300g minced beef
500g fresh mung bean sprouts
3-4 spring onions
9-10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch spinach
2x cloves garlic
Sesame seed oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Gochujjang (Korean chilli paste)
4x eggs, fried
2-3 cups cooked white medium-grain rice
Preparation of some example banchan ingredients
|Sukju Namul Muchim
(Seasoned Mung Bean Sprouts)
|2x medium zucchini
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil1. Wash the zucchini, then top and tail them and cut them into pieces about 5-6cm long.2. Take one piece (it should be a short cylinder), and place one of the cut round ends face-down on the chopping board. Proceed to slice into ‘sheets’ about 5mm thick.3.Cut out any seeds, then julienne the zucchini ‘sheets’ into short strips about 5-6cm long and 3-4mm thick.4.Put the zucchini strips into a non-reactive bowl, pour over the fish sauce and lightly toss through with your fingers till they are evenly coated. Set them aside till they have wilted – about 10-20 minutes.5.Strain the zucchini, then squeeze out all excess moisture and set aside.6.Preheat a frying pan or wok with a little olive oil till hot, then add the zucchini, garlic and salt and sautÃ©e till they’ve softened a bit more and absorbed the flavour of the salt and garlic.7. Remove from heat, and once cooled, store in an airtight container.
|500g fresh mung bean sprouts
2x cloves garlic, minced
3-4 spring onions
Sesame seed oil
Toasted sesame seeds1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then blanch the mung bean sprouts by adding them to the water and leaving them for a minute or two, till they begin to soften. Immediately drain them but DO NOT RINSE1! Instead, leave them to cool in the colander, occasionally giving them a toss.2.While they’re cooling, rinse the spring onion and slice them on the bias into pieces about 2-3mm thick. Add these to the blanched bean shoots, along with the garlic, salt, sesame seeds and sesame oil, then lightly toss through with your hand till they are evenly coated.3.Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.1 – The reason that you do not refresh the bean shoots in cold water after blanching is that this causes them to retain more moisture, weighing down the shoots and making them soggy.
|1x bunch spinach
Sesame seed oil
Toasted sesame seeds1. Remove the roots from the spinach, then give them a thorough rinse to get rid of as much dirt as possible.2.Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then add the spinach and make sure it is submerged for a few minutes (or till wilted but not completely cooked).3.Drain spinach and rinse thoroughly in a few changes of cold water, till the colour is a vibrant green and there is no more green in the rinsing water.4.Drain well, then take small handfuls and squeeze out as much water as you can, whilst being careful not to mush the spinach entirely.5.Roughly chop into easy-to-eat lengths, then put into a bowl, along with enough salt to season and the sesame seeds and sesame oil.6. Toss through evenly, then store in an airtight container once cooled.
|9-10 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sesame seed oil1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then add the dried shiitake mushrooms and boil till well softened.2.Rinse in cold water then drain well, squeezing out any excess liquid, and remove the fibrous stems and cut into strips about 3-4mm thick.3.Preheat a frying pan, then add the mushrooms, soy sauce and sesame oil and stir fry over high heat till the mushrooms have heated through and absorbed all the soy sauce and oil.4. Set aside till needed.