Even the word “bibimbap” is fun and sort of “delicious to say”, never mind how fun and delicious actually eating this savory little dish is.
What is bibimbap?
Bibimbap is a Korean-style version of fried rice, complete with all of those crave-worthy flavors we love that are found in that cuisine like sesame, soy, ginger, garlic, and a touch of sweet from brown sugar, along with some spicy beef and a few flourishes of greens to complete the picture.
Traditionally (and if you go to a restaurant to enjoy this dish), bibimbap is prepared in a super-hot stone bowl in which the ingredients that are added literally sizzle and caramelize.
But since most of us don’t have a traditional bibimbap stone bowl in our home kitchen, the best type of pan to use for this recipe is a cast-iron skillet, as it closely mimics the stone’s non-stick surface and heat retention. (If you don’t have a cast-iron pan, use another heavy-bottom pan that will retain heat well.)
Spicy Garlic Beef Bibimbap: Tips & Tidbits
• Cool it now: It’s best to use cooled rice as opposed to freshly prepared and still-hot rice, which would tend to steam in the pan, rather than caramelizing and crisping up, which is what’s desired; and marinating the beef will impart more flavor, as well.
• Ginger-in-a-tube: I love using the prepared, ginger-in-the-tube for this recipe; no need to peel and grate, so it’s super convenient, and you can store any unused portion in the fridge for future use.
• These oils can take the heat: While you can certainly use canola or vegetable oil for this recipe, my preferred oil is avocado these days, because it’s incredibly heart-healthy and has a super high “smoke point”, or the ability to get very hot without breaking down; peanut oil is also very good for high smoke point cooking.
• Head start: And if you’d like to prep this recipe ahead of time, simply cook your rice the day before and marinate your beef, as well; you may even want to prep your greens, too. On the day of, all you’ll have to do is quickly stir-fry, and you’ll have your piping-hot bibimbap ready and on the table in no-time.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Spicy Garlic Beef Bibimbap with Spinach and Bok Choy
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 1 ½ cups uncooked white rice, cooked according to package instructions and cooled
• 1 (¾ -1 pound) ribeye steak, cut/chopped into tiny bite-size slices
• 1 teaspoon grated ginger, or fresh ginger paste
• Black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
• 8 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press, divided use
• 1 tablespoon sambal (chili sauce), or your desired amount for your level of spiciness
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• Avocado (or peanut) oil
• Sesame oil
• 1 baby bok choy, sliced thinly
• 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
• Sweet Sesame-Soy “Finishing” Sauce (recipe below)
-In a bowl, combine the chopped ribeye with the ginger, a pinch or two of salt and black pepper, the sesame oil, 6 cloves of the garlic, and the sambal, and toss to coat; marinate for at least 20 minutes, or overnight, ideally.
-Once marinated, sprinkle the cornstarch over the meat, and toss to coat; set a heavy bottom pan (a cast-iron pan is best for this recipe!) over hight heat, and drizzle in a few tablespoons of avocado or peanut oil; once the oil is hot, add in a batch of meat (I usually work in two batches as to not overcrowd) and allow it to become crispy, lightly frying it for about 5-6 minutes or until very golden-brown; remove from pan and keep warm, repeating with rest of ribeye.
-Clean out the pan; then, place the pan back over high heat, and once very, very hot, drizzle in about a tablespoon of sesame oil, plus a little more or the avocado or peanut oil; once aromatic (after a few seconds), add the cooked and cooled white rice into the pan, lightly pressing it into the bottom with a spatula or back of a spoon to purposely allow to crisp up a bit; do not disturb for a few minutes, then toss it around to stir-fry it, crisping all sides.
-Drizzle in about half of the Sweet Sesame-Soy “Finishing” Sauce, and toss to coat the rice, allowing it to continue to crisp up and become slightly caramelized; then, add in the crispy beef, the boy choy and the spinach, plus the 2 remaining cloves of garlic, along with a little more of the sauce, and toss everything together to coat well.
-Check the level of seasoning to see if any additional “Finishing” sauce is needed, and garnish with a little green onion; serve while piping hot, with extra sambal, if desired!
Sesame-Soy “Finishing” Sauce Ingredients:
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger, or fresh ginger paste
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 6 tablespoons soy sauce
• 4 1/2 tablespoons (slightly generous) brown sugar
• 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
-Add all ingredients to small bowl, and whisk well to completely blend; add to a squeeze bottle if you have one (for easier use during cooking), or to a container; keep unused portion in fridge for up to a week.
From the Heart: “Missing Having My Kid Around”
(“From the Heart” is a little accompaniment to the recipes I bring you, a more intimate space for me to share some of my more personal thoughts on life. Here you’ll find my reflections on my own inner/spiritual journey, on being a wife and a mother, on being a creative, and general observations—pretty much whatever is on my mind.
I whole-heartedly believe that sharing “from the heart” with one another is what connects us, heals us, and inspires us! Glad you’re here…)
I had such a precious little experience this afternoon, one that made me smile and that filled my heart with bubbly memories of times long-gone by now, yet still completely fresh in my mind.
While working in the kitchen with my windows open, I heard the little voices of my neighbor kids, a sister and brother duo of around the ages of eight and ten respectively.
They had just arrived home from school and must have been feeling particularly rambunctious and boisterous because they called out to me, one at a time, through their open window with an effusive “Hi next-door-neighbor!!”
So I yelled back a friendly and silly “Hi!!”, and we went back and forth a couple more times.
Afterwards, I heard them giggle and scuttle away, thumping and bumping around the way that kids do after a long, boring day at school, just needing some release; and I smiled to myself and thought, I love that.
It’s been too long since I’ve experienced that particular type of zaniness that a child brings.
I love the reckless abandon with which kids operate, and interact with others—so unselfconscious, so free and so open.
And it made me think about my own son in that moment, because it was so reminiscent of how he used to be so many years ago at that very same age.
When our son, now a nineteen-going-on-twenty year old Marine, was that age, I vividly recall having to quickly shut all the windows on certain days when he’d get home from school.
Those were the days when he was being a particularly crazy goof-ball, shouting silly words and making zany sounds, talking bathroom humor complete with accompanying sounds that would make him laugh (oh, raising a boy!) all the while embarrassing his parents (which just fueled him even more) who were wanting to come across as civilized neighbors.
And my heart fluttered a bit at thinking back on those times—those silly, child-still-in-the-house times, and I found myself feeling both joyful and a little sad.
I miss those times, miss them terribly.
It’s been too long since I’ve experienced that particular type of zaniness that a child brings.
I miss my son being a kid, being a little guy who only wanted to play and learn, and have fun with his friends and his mom and dad.
I miss having a child in the house, miss the precious, sweet little “annoyances” and quirks that having a kid brings into one’s daily sphere; and I miss being needed on a daily basis, in that amazing and sweetly wonderful way that only a kid can need an adult.
Ah, raising children…
Surely success in parenting means raising them up so that they do eventually fly out of the nest and can stand on their own two feet, equipped to make their own decisions and make their own way in this world; but it doesn’t mean that emotionally speaking, it’s fun or easy to hand them over to life and just say, “Here, take ’em.”
Reminiscing like that also made me think of how as our son grew older, into his teens and even into these more recent years, our relationship adapted and what we did together as a family, how we connected to one another, morphed and became more adult-like, moving in the direction of us slowly becoming more like equals-in-adulthood rather than his authority figures.
It makes me think about how these days (when he is able to visit and be around, that is), our lunches together on Saturdays have become gold, and are the thing that we all grab a hold of as a safe space where we can talk about various things, and connect in meaningful ways over good food; and how we look forward to that time together, sharing interesting events in our lives, interesting experiences and stories with each other that happened while we were apart.
And right now, I am missing even those sparse moments, since he’s been away on a deployment for a number of months.
All of that came flooding in for me hearing those little munchkins next door being hyper and silly, and wanting to engage with me through our open windows.
It made me think about the fact that I miss my kid—miss having him around as a child, and miss having him around now, as a young adult, when he can be here.
I just miss his presence.
I miss giving him a hug and a reassuring rub on his back to let him know that I love him, and that I’m glad to see him.
I miss preparing some of the foods that he enjoys so much when I prepare them.
And I miss those special lunches together as a family where we’d explore a new Asian restaurant (probably our favorite type of cuisine to partake in together) and “oohhh” and “ahhh” over those flavors that we just can’t seem to get enough of.
For now, it’s just my hubby and I exploring together on Saturdays, taking copious mental notes on places that we’ve “got to take” our son to when he returns, so that we don’t skip a beat and he doesn’t miss out on any experience that he too may enjoy.
It’s replicating one of our new favorite dishes that we’ve found while exploring in his absence—a spicy beef bibimbap full of flavor and comfort. We’ve made that a fun thing to do while we await our son’s return, when we can go out together, the three of us, once again.
So here’s to kids; but here’s to them growing up too.
Here’s to experiencing them through new eyes, and to keeping our relationships with them growing and evolving in fresh and beautiful ways, while never ever forgetting the free innocence and openness—the sheer beauty—that their youth, with its open innocence and unpretentiousness, originally brought into life.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.