Ample Bites publishes a lot of recipes for dishes that have American, Italian, French, Cajun and Caribbean roots but don’t be fooled by the Midwestern roots of Ample Bites. I also enjoy good Asian fare, especially Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and, of course sushi and sashimi.
There is a Korean dish that has always intrigued Ample Bites as much for its name as for its healthy and savory ingredients. It is the Korean dish Bibimbop, which can be pronounced in a number of different ways including: bee-bim-bahp, bee-bim-bop, bim-bim-bop or even bop-bop-bop. The pronunciation I have heard the most and one that I like to use is bip-bim-bop. This Korean word literally means “mixed meal” or “mixed rice”. When you see the recipe and the accompanying photo you will understand why it is call Bibimbop.
This meal, dating from the late 19th century (not really all that old, right) is listed at number 40 on the World’s Most Delicious Foods in a readers’ poll compiled by CNN in 2011. The dish can be prepared with a wide variety of vegetables. Those commonly used include cucumber, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, spinach and bean sprouts. The dish almost always includes tofu and toppings can include strips of chicken or beef, pieces of seafood, and or a raw or fried egg. My recipe is as follows:
8 oz extra-firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar, divided
2 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup julienne-cut carrot
2 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp, plus 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
3 cups hot cooked short-grain rice
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 (5-oz) package sliced shitake mushroom caps
1 (9-oz) package fresh baby spinach
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs
4 tsp Korean chili paste, such as Annie Chun’s
¼ tsp Kosher salt
Cut tofu into ¾” thick slices. Place tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
Combine 1/3 cup water, vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon garlic, ½ teaspoon ginger, and crushed red pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add carrot, and remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Drain.
Remove tofu from paper towels; cut into ¾” cubes. Place tofu in a medium bowl. Combine remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon ginger, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring with a whisk. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce mixture to tofu; toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat for 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil; swirl to coat. Add rice to pan in a single layer; cook 1 minute (do not stir). Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat. Add 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce mixture and bean sprouts to pan; sauté 1 minute. Remove sprouts from pan; keep warm. Add 1 teaspoon to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce mixture; sauté 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan; keep warm. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add tofu to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until golden brown. Remove tofu from pan; keep warm. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce mixture; sauté 30 seconds. Add spinach to pan; sauté 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove spinach from pan; keep warm. Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter in pan. Crack eggs into pan; cook 4 minutes or until whites are set. Remove from heat.
Place ¾ cup rice in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving evenly with carrots, sprouts, mushrooms, tofu, and spinach. Top each serving with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon chili paste. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.