If you’ve never heard of Bibimbap, it’s time to get on board. Chef and restaurateur Sang Kim returned to The Social to tell us all about one of Korea’s most iconic dishes.
The original form of the dish goes back to the early Chosun Period (14th century). The distribution of ingredients in a rice bowl was dictated by the five basic yin and yang elements: earth, fire, wood, water, metal. Each of these elements/ingredients was offered in the bowl together and in balanced formation.
WHAT DOES BIBIMBAP MEAN?
The word “bibimbap” literally means “mixed rice.”
Bibimbap is only about 100 years old and became super popular in the 20th century.
It’s traditionally eaten on the even of the lunar new year to finish off all of the leftovers of the previous year. It’s kind of like a cleansing.
HOW DO YOU MAKE IT?
A rice cooker is typically used for the rice but a pot with a glass lid will do, too.
WHAT INGREDIENTS SHOULD BE USED?
Bibimbap is usually made with different types of sauteed and seasoned vegetables (i.e. shiitake mushrooms, spicy radishes, zucchini)
A raw or yolky egg
Meat (usually beef)
Chili pepper paste, fermented soybean paste and soy sauce
HOW TO ASSEMBLE IT
It’s more than simply piling the ingredients on top of one another. Part of the challenge is to assemble the prettiest bowl.
Most chefs assemble the ingredients in small piles around the bowl with a raw or cooked egg placed in the centre.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START ASSEMBLING
Think about the first ingredient you put into your rice bowl because it says a lot about your character. It could be a colour you’re drawn to or a food you fancy.
The five colours (or “obangsaek”) represent the traditional five elements of the universe. The colours white black/brown, green, red and yellow have a deep philosophical meaning.
If you choose yellow (i.e. bean sprouts, eggs)
Yellow represents Centre:
Sense organ: Mouth
Prominent emotion: Pensiveness
If you choose black/brown (i.e. shiitake mushrooms)
Black/brown represents North:
Sense organ: Ears
Prominent emotion: Fear
If you choose red (i.e. spicy radishes)
Red represents South:
Sense organ: Tongue
Prominent emotion: Joy
If you choose green (i.e. zucchini)
Green represents East:
Sense organ: Eyes
Prominent emotion: Anger