May 27, 2017
Bibimbap - The bed of pearly white rice adorned with a ring of colorful vegetables and beef, and a bright yellow egg, the shining star in the center

“What if, today, we were grateful for everything?”   ~ Charlie Brown

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For Mother's Day, the best gift I ever could have asked for.  A trip to visit my son and his family and an afternoon spent cooking together in their kitchen.  They taught me how to make two of their favorites: Miso soup and Bibimbap

The thing that strikes me most?  What incredible parents they are.

It's hard to believe Sam is eighteen months old (already).  He's toddling around, babbles all of the time, and is their favorite person in all of the world.

“Totally predictable, but I really never thought I'd love someone so much.  Even though he spends most his day begging to go to the park, making a million toy messes, and we're exhausted a lot of the time.”

Sometimes he looks at them tenderly, places a dimpled hand on his mom's face and then lunges forward giggling.  He suits them well.  Really, he's perfect for them.  They have a rhythm.

Bibimbap - The bed of pearly white rice adorned with a ring of colorful vegetables and beef, and a bright yellow egg, the shining star in the center

But really, since the fateful day they met in the sixth grade, the two of them have always had a rhythm.  No matter what life throws their way, they've always made it work

J:  “One afternoon, several years ago, I was down on my luck and on my way to the local food pantry.  I passed a local Korean restaurant tucked between a comic shop and a Bohemian coffee shop.  The sign in the window read: “Hiring – Chef's Assistant.”

Once I got to the pantry, I was mopey and complained about not having an ID, money, and pretty much every excuse there was for not being able to get a job.  One of the guys pulled me aside, told me nobody wanted to hear my pity party and to come with him.  He got me cleaned up, fresh clothes, a hair cut, a hot meal, and a swift kick in the shorts about being so negative.

The next day I went back and was hired on the spot.”

M:  “It just so happens, they were also looking for a waitress.  So I quit my job, asked a friend to drive me to Ames, all the while thinking he'd have money for an apartment.  Not so much.  Instead, we ended up living in the basement of the restaurant.  The good news was we could eat as much rice and hot sauce as we wanted”

J:  So, for the next few months, I did all of the prep cooking.  Every day, dozens of people would come in and order seafood pancakes, banana popsicles, tofu stew, and steaming bowls of Bibimbap.  It was my first time being exposed to food from a different culture, everything from the tastes to colors on the plate.

I'm a highly spiritual person and had just discovered Buddhism.  I knew God had put me in this place to learn a skill, and it forced me to have confidence.  The owner had helped me; the man at the food pantry had helped me; the universe cared about me.  I felt like I had a purpose 

To me, Bibimbap represents a universal struggle, with the themes of charity/generosity/ Buddhism.”

Bibimbap - The bed of pearly white rice adorned with a ring of colorful vegetables and beef, and a bright yellow egg, the shining star in the center

If you've ever had Korean food, you'll know how hard it is to resist Bibimbap

A large serving of pearly white rice in the center of a bowl that's surrounded by a small amount of meat (usually beef), a rainbow of colorful veggies, and a bright yellow egg as the shining star.  It's typically served in special stone bowls coated in sesame oil and heated until they're piping hot.  When the rice is added, a crust will form along the bottom

(No stone bowl?  A skillet will work wonders for giving the rice its irresistible crunch)

An egg is part of the mix as well, although there are a couple of ways it can go.  It can be fried and placed on top, or the more traditional way, with the chef cracking it over the dish.  As the egg is mixed into the rice, it will cook in the steaming hot bowl, with the runny yolk saucing the rice.

Like many Korean meals, individual ingredients are plated so beautifully, allowing you to fully appreciate each one.  Until, with reckless abandon, everything is mixed together.  The possibilities are endless, so use your favorite ingredients.

A few things to keep in mind when making your own bowl

You can cook everything together in one pot, or make the components individually (it makes for a prettier presentation)

While we made ours with carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, scallions, and kimchi; the technique for one-pot, egg-topped crispy rice works for any cuisine's flavor combination.  An Italian version?  Rice + pancetta + basil + tomatoes.  Asian?  Peppercorns + snow peas + sesame seeds + tamari.  Middle Eastern?  Za'atar + eggplant + chickpeas + lamb

Any variety of rice will be great, although white sushi rice crisps up nicely

Cook the veggies any way you'd like.  Some ideas: lightly sauté, blanch, steam, or roast.  It's also nice to leave a few raw; a little crunch adds a nice texture.  A few ideas?  Cucumber or carrot matchsticks, zucchini ribbons, thinly sliced bell peppers, sesame carrots, grilled mushrooms, soy sauce-glazed snap peas

Protein – Anything will work great.  Maybe thinly sliced steak, pulled pork, shredded rotisserie chicken, or ground lamb?  If you're going vegetarian, crispy chickpeas, fried eggplant, or even marinated tofu

Toppings – Bibimbap is all about texture.  Soft cooked rice and the crispy rice crust, crunchy and soft veggies, chewy meat, and a runny egg.  Layer on even more texture with the toppings.  Try ingredients like bean sprouts, sesame seeds, or shredded dried seaweed if you are going with Asian flavors.  A drizzle of sesame oil or hot sauce over the top before serving

Bibimbap - The bed of pearly white rice adorned with a ring of colorful vegetables and beef, and a bright yellow egg, the shining star in the center

When it comes to cooking serving your Bibimbap, there are a couple of ways you can go.

Serving it in individual bowls is prettier (and nicer for entertaining).  When making it this way, it's best to crisp the rice and cook the eggs separately, then add everything to the bowls.  Once the rice is cooked, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet, add the cooked rice for a few minutes, allowing it to crisp up

Spoon the cooked rice into each bowl.  Top with your cooked vegetables and meat, then add toppings.

Fry some eggs (one per bowl).  Cook them until the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny.  Top each bowl with an egg, a drizzle of sesame oil and hot sauce, and serve

The other way is to cook everything in one big pot

Choose a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid and heat some oil until it's very hot.  Add the cooked rice and cover, allowing it to cook for just a few minutes.  Next, add the veggies and meat. Crack an egg (or multiple eggs depending on how many people you are feeding) over the top

Cover the pot and remove it from the heat. Keep the pot covered for a few minutes to allow the egg to start to cook.  Remove the cover, and stir it all together before serving

Bibimbap - The bed of pearly white rice adorned with a ring of colorful vegetables and beef, and a bright yellow egg, the shining star in the center

And so, while I certainly love recipes, it's best to defer to him when it comes to Bibimbap

“I rarely use a recipe.  Because once you realize you don't always need one; you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.”

So grab some rice .. bowls .. and a few of your favorite toppings. But most of all?



ps:  I wish for you a wonderful (and long) Memorial Day weekend!

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  • Reply Heather May 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Wow, what a story to go with such a beautiful dish. Sometimes bad things happen to put people in the right places. I have to see that now as we are losing our dream house and moving out of state. I think it has to be for a reason…so I’m in the right place. I hope.

  • Reply Agnes May 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    I always order bibimbap when I go to a Korean restaurant, Its my absolute favorite! Are those raw mushrooms? I haven’t tried it with raw mushrooms before. Looks good!

  • Reply Melanie May 27, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Oh wow I recently reviewed a restaurant and my friend tried this. She loved it and i’d love to recreate it for her so thank you for the recipe 😉

  • Reply Rebecca M. May 27, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I just learned something new 🙂 I hadn’t heard of Bibimbap, but now I want to make some right away! Such a gorgeous dish and I love how versatile it is.

  • Reply Nayna Kanabar May 27, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    This sounds like a very tasty dish and I love the atray of different ingredients that are part of it.

  • Reply Nicole Amos May 27, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    This sounds like an incredible dish! I have never had a chance to try it but you made it seem so easy to make for myself. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply Gareth Torrance May 28, 2017 at 2:34 am

    I have never heard of bibimbap before, but it looks delicious!

  • Reply TIm B May 28, 2017 at 6:21 am

    Nice quote by Charlie Brown. Charles Schultz was such an insightful artist about highlighting simple things in life that we often lose focus on.

  • Reply Reagan May 28, 2017 at 9:05 am

    I have never tried or heard of Bibimbap, but boy does it look delicious. Your grandson is literally the cutest thing in the world and glad you gotto spend time with your family.

  • Reply Maggie May 28, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I love Korean Bibimbap. It is a complete meal in itself and I love the spicy kick. I like that this dish gives you the liberty to add whatever vegetable you have in stock.

  • Reply Katie Kinsley May 28, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Oh my gosh, I love bibimbap! I spent a month in South Korea and this was one of the most tasteful and interesting dishes I ate there.

  • Reply Alaina Bullock May 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I LOVE miso soup, but have to admit I have never heard of Bibimbap, However, after learning what it is and seeing all of the delicious ingredients you added to yours, I am definitely giving it a try! I also love that it is versatile enough to where you can add whatever ingredients you like, and it still sounds like it will taste amazing!

  • Reply Susan May 28, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I have never tried this before but it looks delicious! I want to branch out with things I try and this would be great for me I will have to make this.

  • Reply Annemarie LeBlanc May 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    This has got to be one of my favorite Korean dishes. I love it with Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced beef, bean sprouts and of course, the gochujang and sesame oil. I would love to try making this at home too!

  • Reply David Elliott May 29, 2017 at 1:45 am

    It does look like an amazingly beautiful dish. My in laws are Korean and I haven’t heard of this dish yet. I will have to ask them about it.

  • Reply Amina May 29, 2017 at 3:54 am

    This is quite a store and quite a plate too! I love it when cooking has a deeper meaning, it makes it much more spiritual.

  • Reply Shoshana Sue May 29, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Never had Bibimbap or heard it before but if sure does look worth trying. The ingredients are not complicated, I will try this out and tell everyone I know how to prepare Korean meals haha.Sam is such an adorable baby.

  • Reply Arra Odeza May 29, 2017 at 4:56 am

    OMG! one of my fave Korean dish. I want to try making this at home but I always ended up buying at a Korean resto. I wish the ingredients are readily available in the supermarket

  • Reply Lucille May 29, 2017 at 5:09 am

    It sounds like you have really turned your life around. We have a Korean cafe near us, with delicious food. You have really given me the inspiration to try making this.

  • Reply Gabrielle May 29, 2017 at 5:24 am

    We have an amazing Korean restaurant near us, and this is an amazing dish that we love, I have never thought to try to recreate it at home though x

  • Reply Valeria May 29, 2017 at 6:16 am

    Ive never heard of this, but this sounds like a delicious breakfast. I love all the toppings and textures.

  • Reply Tami May 29, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I’ll have to use my skillet to make this. I can’t decide which way to prepare my egg in it. I am using a fried egg kinda girl but cracking it over the dish to let it cook sounds just as yummy.

  • Reply Eileen May 29, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I love Bibimbap! I’ve never tried to make it at home, but this recipe looks great I’ll have to try it out! And your photography is so beautiful I have to say!

  • Reply Emily May 29, 2017 at 10:24 am

    That food looks amazing! I love that you enjoyed time with your son, and how special to get to see your child as a parent! I am a ways off from that with my kids, but that will be fun to see one day.

  • Reply Amelie May 29, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I discovered my love for Korean food and bibimbap in Indonesia, oddly enough. Found this nice little vegan Korean place where they made kimchi pancake, it was incredible!!

  • Reply Elliana May 29, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Bibimbap is one of my favorites in Korean cuisine. My other favorites are Bulgogi, Chapchae, and of course, Kimchi. Bibimbap is so special because it takes time to prepare the dish, making it a labor of love to serve to the family. I love mine with Shiitake and Enoki mushrooms and beef as the protein source.

  • Reply Leigh Anne Borders May 29, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Bibimbap is something that I have never heard of. Honestly, I have never eaten at a Korean restaurant before. It looks as though I am missing out for sure. I love that you have a story to go along with this recipe.

  • Reply Tania May 29, 2017 at 11:46 am

    What a beautiful story told through an exotic dish! How wonderful for your son to have found himself in the right place at the right time and everything just came together to make his life work in a new way.

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus May 29, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I am so pleased that they are good parents, they obviously take after you! I love Bibimbap, the veggie version is delicious but yours look lovely as well. As usual it is a pleasure to read your blog, you never fail to captivate me with your beautiful words x

  • Reply Tanya Brannan May 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Reading their story was just fantastic! Obviously it was just meant to be! As for the Bibimbap, I have seen lots of people talking about this recently and I would love to give it a try! You have made it sound so easy, that I am going to get the ingredients this week! xx

  • Reply Danik May 29, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I never heard of Bibimbap but the story is fantastic. Would love to try this in the future (despite that fact I never heard of it before but now I am interested).

  • Reply Candice Nikeia May 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Bibimbap sounds and looks incredible! I want to make it this week! yummy yum!

  • Reply Claire May 29, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I am from Korea and we eat this most of the time because not only it’s healthy, it’s delicious!!! Love the bibimbap you made too. So relatable 🙂

  • Reply Cali May 29, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Wow what a delicious looking dish! This story is just gorgeous too, what a gorgeous little boy! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply monica y May 29, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    This looks so delicious and easy to make too. I love the combination of veggies and protein. It is perfect for a brunch or even a light dinner. I think next weekend I will make this. It is something I want to have time to sit and enjoy with some mimosas. Just perfect for a father’s day celebration too.

  • Reply Miriam May 29, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! I’m in Bali right now and it actually reminds me so much of the food that you can get here xxx

  • Reply Diana Ajih May 30, 2017 at 2:38 am

    I love Korean food especially Bibimbap. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I’ll have to try this one day!

  • Reply Echo May 30, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Sometimes, it is the simplest things that bring us joy.

    I have never tried this dish before, but it looks amazing. Thank you for sharing how you make it with your family.

  • Reply Rebecca Swenor May 30, 2017 at 8:44 am

    This bowl does have true mean and I love the story. It is really inspirational. I will have to try making this bowl it sounds delicious and looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Tiffany Haywood May 30, 2017 at 9:02 am

    This looks delicious!! I love when a meal can come together in such a pretty and delicious way!

  • Reply Finley May 30, 2017 at 11:43 am

    I have never heard of this dish and it sounds absolutely delicious. I do love mixing and matching different ingredients to combine flavors & textures. This would be a delicious meal any day of the week.

  • Reply Carol Cassara May 30, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    I’ve had bibimbap before and I crave for it from time to time. It is glorious and it is delicious. Anyone who has had it especially the ones who’ve tried it in Korea would boast about it and have this glow when they hear the name of the dish. It’s really amazing and it’s usually served with kimchi but you can definitely make your own mix!

  • Reply Melissa May 30, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I have not heard of this dish before but it sounds very nice with all the different flavours. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply Georgiana May 31, 2017 at 3:28 am

    Wow, this meal looks beautiful as if served in a good restaurant. I admire people who ar not lazy to cook and serve something so beautiful just for themselves.

  • Reply Farrah Less G. May 31, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Such a very inspiring stories enough to brighten my day . .. surely positive vibes. I love veggies I always have this on my daily diet. I heard Bibimbap to a friend who visit South Korea though I haven’t tried it yet shame on me! Now I am so anxious to try this dish , I like the miso soup my Mom knows how to make it. It is my special request on a cold season or if I am sick.

  • Reply Brian May 31, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I’m not a big fan of Korean food. Jap Chae is my favorite Korean dish though.

  • Reply Shannon Patterson June 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I’ve never heard of Bibimbap before, but it looks simple and amazingly good! Thank you for sharing the story with it!

  • Reply sondra June 4, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    I think I know what I’ll be trying in the kitchen. Your pan looks like a piece of art.

  • Reply Anosa June 17, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    Tried Bibimbap when I went to vacation in Korea and I loved it! I never know how it is being prepared and searched for it and I am glad to head over this post. You had also an amazing story behind this. Indeed we should be grateful for everyday.

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