Bibimbap, sometimes spelled beebimbap and pronounced bee-bim-BOP, is a popular Korean dish of rice topped with fresh and cooked vegetables and a red chili paste called gochujang. Seasoned raw or grilled beef may also be added, and a fried egg is often plopped on top.
The presentation of the dish varies, but most often the separate vegetables and meat are arranged on top of the rice and everything is mixed together before eating. Korean barbecue may be a favorite in the U.S. right now, but bibimbap is sure to become one of the most popular Korean dishes.
The word bap (bahp, bob, bab) refers in Korean to cooked grains, including rice, and the word bibimbap means “mixed rice” but can also be said to mean “mixed meal” since “bap” is also used in a general sense to mean meal.
You can listen to the pronunciation of “bap” in the video from Maangchi’s Korean Vocab below:
Typical vegetables used in bibimbap include carrots, cucumber, spinach, bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms and braken fern.
The specifics of bibimbap depend on the region. There is a version called Dolsot which is bibimbap cooked in a hot stone bowl. The rice crisps up at the bottom of the hot bowl, which gives a nice textural contrast. Diners are advised to allow the hot stone bowl to continue cooking the rice for a few minutes before enjoying, in order to get the nice crispy bottom.
Another famous variation comes from the city of Jeonju. Boasting up to 30 ingredients, this bibimbap is served in a brass bowl and the rice is cooked in beef broth. Ingredients include sesame oil, ginkgo nuts, mung bean jelly, steak tartar, egg, and of course gochujang chile sauce.
Korean food tends to have a lack of specific recipes, but this is changing as Korean food is becoming mainstreamed and internationalized. There are a lot of “Hansik” food trucks appearing in L.A. and the cuisine is showing up more and more in restaurants. Rice bowls of all kinds are something of a growing trend, and bibimbap could be considered the classic korean rice bowl. Be aware, in fact, that in some Korean cookbooks intended for an English speaking audience, bibimbap recipes might be disguised as “Vegetable Rice Bowl” or some other variation.
The Korean Food Foundation is working to promote the globalization of Korean food. Learn more at www.Hansik.org.