Bi bim bap, as sold at countless Korean grocers’, is one of New York’s finest meals-on-the-go. The pared-down version can be found in the prepared foods refrigerator, and you take it over to the sushi station to get a neat pat of hot rice to mix in. The blend of cold veg and hot rice, all seasoned with Korea’s magical gochujang hot pepper sauce, is a masterpiece on the run and easily made kosher.
This post is part of the Eating New York series.Yum
Sunrise Mart is, here at least, a heuristic to connote the house of treasure that is the New York Korean grocery (not to be confused with the New York Korean deli). For NYU kids, it was Sunrise Mart; for Columbia kids, it was, may it rest in peace, M2M Mart. And there, among the mochi ice cream, every-flavor Pocky, and everything red bean, was the takeout container of bi bim bap veg, awaiting its marriage to a scoop of hot rice.
The vegetable offerings could shift subtly, but usually include carrot, spinach, zucchini, cucumber, bean sprouts, daikon radish, and something wonderful that Maangchi finally helped me identify as fernbrake. Sadly, I don’t think there is any kosher certified (although perhaps I should ask whether it requires?). So in place of the fernbrake, we’ll be using shiitake mushrooms, another option sometimes featured.
Preparing vegetables for bi bim bap isn’t complicated, but each needs to be prepped and cooked separately (generally for just a few minutes each). So all told, it’s a prep-intensive dish. If you make extra, though, it’s great meal prep (in the manner of the mart).
Essential on your bi bim bap, gochujang is magic-making sauce. At the mart it comes in little plastic tubs and you have to ration it. Fortunately, authentic, made-in-Korea gochujang is available kosher certified. Koko Korean, a brand that sells kosher Korean ingredients, makes gochujang (Circle-K, available on Amazon); another brand is O’Food (OU, and also on Amazon).
To prepare gochujang for bi bim bap, you mix it with a bit of brown sugar and sesame oil. (There are other versions that use vinegar, also good.)
Traditionally, bi bim bap is topped with a runny-yolked fried egg. The convenience mart version comes sans egg, but it’s always a welcome addition to your homemade bi bim bap:
Bi Bim Bap (parve)
- 1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice
- 4 carrots
- 1 zucchini
- 1 bunch spinach
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms – 115 g
- 1 daikon radish
- 4 cups bean sprouts
- peanut oil – for sautéing vegetables
- sesame oil – for seasoning
- 4 eggs – optional
- 4 Tbsp gochujang
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Set the rice to cook in a rice cooker or on the stovetop. While it’s steaming, prepare the vegetables.
Prepare the carrots:
- Peel the carrots and julienne. Heat 1 teaspoon peanut oil in a medium skillet over a medium flame. Add the carrot and cook until slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Place in a small bowl and season with several drops sesame oil and salt, to taste.
Prepare the zucchini:
- Julienne the zucchini (no need to peel). In the same skillet over medium heat, cook the zucchini until softened, 2-3 minutes, adding more peanut oil if needed. Place in a small bowl and season with several drops sesame oil and salt, to taste.
Prepare the spinach:
- Trim the ends of the spinach and add to the skillet along with a few drops more peanut oil, if needed. Sauté until softened, 3-4 minutes. Place in a small bowl and season with several drops sesame oil and salt, to taste.
Prepare the mushrooms:
- Slice the mushrooms and add to the skillet, with more peanut oil if needed. Over a medium flame, cook until softened and shrunken. Place in a small bowl and season with several drops sesame oil and salt, to taste.
Prepare the radish:
- Peel the daikon radish and cut into matchsticks. In a small pot, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. When boiling, add the radish and blanch for 3-4 minutes. Remove from water using a strainer (do not discard water). Place in a small bowl and season with several drops sesame oil and salt, to taste.
Prepare the bean sprouts:
- Return the pot of water to a simmer and add the bean sprouts, cooking until just blanched, 1-2 minutes. Place in a small bowl and season with several drops sesame oil and salt, to taste.
Make the seasoned gochujang:
- Mix all ingredients, whisking well to combine.
Assemble the dish:
- In a medium-sized single-serving bowl, place rounded scoops of each vegetable around the perimeter. Add a scoop of rice in the center. Serve topped with a fried egg, if desired, and gochujang.