It was my birthday on Friday. I normally hate my birthday but this year the pain of growing another year older was eased slightly by my acquisition of a dolsot – gifted most generously by Foodboar Colleen.
A dolsot is a stone bowl commonly used in Korean cuisine to make bibimbap – which should (but doesn’t) translate directly as ‘the most delicious rice in the world’. I think it actually translates as ‘mixed rice’ – it’s being far too modest.
It’s something of a national dish. A simple affair made up of steamed short grain rice topped with as many as you dare of the following ingredients: softened bean sprouts, julienne carrots, spinach, sesame seeds, tofu or meat (commonly beef), egg (cooked or raw) cucumber, mushrooms, courgette and pickles.
The magic of this dish is that you can just about add anything you darn well like but you’d be missing the point if you didn’t add a good few lashings of Korean red pepper paste to stir though.
What makes bibimbap so special is that the sizzling stone dolsot turns the rice slightly crispy as you eat it. Now more than once I’ve been accused of guzzling my food too quickly and my justification is always the same: it’s not the same once it goes cold. The brilliant thing about bibimbap is your food stays wincingly hot for a long time, meaning guzzlers like me can eat at their leisure.
To make bibimbap for 2 people:
Dolsot (or a ceramic bowl if not)
Korean hot pepper paste
Pickled cucumber (or kimchi/some other asian-style pickle)
Tofu (or a meat of your choice)
Dried shiitake mushrooms (or fresh if you can get ’em)
Combine 250 g of sushi rice (short grain) with 375 ml of water in a pan – bringing it up to the boil and then letting it simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. Use a bit of the water you boiled to hydrate the mushrooms in a small bowl
Put the dolsot in a cold oven and gradually let it heat up to 200 degrees (so as not to crack the stone). If you are using a normal ceramic bowl skip this step and just warm it gently as you would normally.
Steam a handful of bean sprouts for 20 minutes, adding the spinach halfway though.
Fry the tofu and set aside. Stir fry the carrots with some garlic and sesame oil and set aside. Stir fry the mushrooms with some sesame seeds and more garlic.
Remove the bean sprouts and spinach for the steamer. Squeeze the water out of the spinach if you want to.
Using gloves remove the hot stone from the oven and fill half way with rice. Place the carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts, spinach, cucumber pickle, tofu and a dolop of hot chilli paste in neat piles around the edge of the dolsot and crack a raw egg in the centre.
Stir quickly so the stone cooks the egg. – Jodie
Image left: Left over bibimbap prepared in a ceramic bowl for my housemate
Image Right: Stone bowl bibimbap stirred up and ready to eat