In South Korea, chefs are reinventing what is basically a meat-heavy cuisine. This is a vegetarian version of bi bim bap, a dish that usually includes ground or barbecued beef. If you have access to a Korean or Asian store, you can buy all the ingredients for this recipe (including the hot sauce) already prepared. All you have to do is cook the rice, top with pre-bought ingredients, add an egg and mix together.
Typically, bi bim bap is eaten with a spoon and served with a fried egg on top, but we love the poached egg. Korean hot chili paste has sugar and a wheat thickener in it, but you can use sambal oelek plus sugar as a substitute.
- 2 cups sushi rice, rinsed
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium carrot, cut in matchsticks
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon Korean hot chili paste
- 4 cups baby spinach, blanched
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup Korean hot chili paste
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 eggs, poached or fried
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Place rice in a pot and add 21/4 cups cold water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until rice is tender.
Divide rice vinegar, sugar and salt in half and mix each half in two bowls. Add carrots to one bowl and cucumber to the other. Toss and add Korean hot sauce to cucumbers. Let stand for 20 minutes or until softened and lightly pickled. Drain.
Sauté remaining vegetables separately in 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon sesame oil each. Add 1/4 teaspoon garlic to spinach and sauté until softened. Add soy sauce and remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic to mushrooms and cook until they absorb the sauce.
Whisk Korean hot chili paste with hot water, sesame oil and sugar and set aside.
To assemble, divide hot rice between bowls and top with the pickled and sautéed vegetables. Set one egg in each bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with prepared hot sauce on the side. Have guests mix everything together, adding as much hot sauce as they wish. Serves 2 to 3.