A Year to Learn Korean Cooking: Bibimbap

Today let’s learn about cooking bibimbap 비빔밥 at home! Bibimbap is one of Korea’s most popular foods. It is a dish comprised of mixed vegetables, beef and rice. Depending upon your tastes, there are many ways to diversify this dish.

About the South of Seoul “A Year to Learn Korean Cooking’ Series

Many of us live in South Korea for only a year. However, the time flies past faster than we can imagine. At South of Seoul, we decided to create a simple series that will offer 2-4 dishes to learn each month so that when you leave South Korea you have a slew of new dishes you feel comfortable making anywhere.

This series is a collaboration with Kimchi Rednecks. In 2020 they created the first blog in this series Online Resources for Learning to Cook Korean Food. These two love to have adventures in the kitchen and share the results with their community. Be sure to follow Kimchi Rednecks on YouTube for other great videos about living life in South Korea.

bibimbap
Bibimbap

About Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a delicious rice dish with mixed vegetables and beef mixed with a spicy gochujang sauce. “Bibim” (비빔) literally means ‘to mix’ and “bap” (밥) means ‘rice.’ Generally, the dish is served as a bowl of rice with vegetables and meat on top and then mixed with the spicy gochujang sauce. Additionally, as wide varieties are available, you change the ingredients to your liking. Then, you can also choose whether to have this in a heated stoneware bowl referred to as dolsot bibimbap 돌솥비빔밥. In my opinion, dulsot bibimbap is the best because the bowl is served sizzling with the rice getting a deliciously crispy texture.

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Three regions in Korea are famous for their versions: Jeonju, Jinju and Tongyeong. In Jeonju, there is a Bibimbap Festival that occurs in the Fall usually in October.

A few of the most common styles of bibimbap are:

  • yukhoe bibimbap 육회 비빔밥 – This dish uses Korean style raw beef tartare for the meat base.
  • haemul bibimbap 해물 비빔밥 – This dish uses a combination of seafood, generally oysters, shrimp or squid
  • Jeonju bibimbap 전주 비빔밥 – From Jeonju, this dish always includes soybean sprouts, beef tartare and a raw egg yolk on top. Additionally, the rice is cooked in a beef broth giving it a more unique flavor.
  • Jinju bibimbap 진주비빔밥 – From Jinju, this version has beef tartare as well, but the vegetables are not sauteed in oil but steamed.
  • Tongyeong bibimbap 통영비빔밥 – From Tongyeong, this dish is a seafood version with shrimp, clams and sea squirts. In addition, seafood broth may be used to add a more flavorful base.
bibimbap

Biggest Hurdle in Cooking Bibimbap

If you are making all of your banchan  반찬 at the same time as your bibimbap, this can feel like a time-consuming and quite overwhelming dish. There are a couple of options that might make this a bit easier for you. First, you can make banchan earlier in the week reducing the amount of time in the kitchen. Plus, you can enjoy your banchan during the week too. Secondly, you can purchase some premade banchan at the grocery store, market. There are also specialty stores that sell banchan as well.

If you choose to make dolsot bibimbap, you will want to have a stone pot or ttukbaegi 뚝배기 and cook it on a gas stove. If you do not have a gas stove, we got the delicious crispy rice texture by putting sesame oil in the bottom of our stone pot, adding the rice, and pressing it down to allow it to cook. We then put the stone pot in the oven to heat and create the scorched rice (also referred to as nurungji 누룽지).

bibimbap
Homemade Dulsot Bibimbap

Three Recommended Cooking Bibimbap Videos to Watch

Since this is a popular food, it is easy to find this dish in local restaurants. Cooking bibimbap at home takes time but is so worth it. This dish is the first Korean food that Chuck chose for me to try, so it always will be my favorite dish here.

Korean American Cooking Bibimbap

Korean Cooking Bibimbap

American in Korea Cooking Bibimbap

Let Us Know How It Turns Out

When you make bibimbap for the first time at home, be sure to leave a comment and let us know how it turned out! Also, if you live in Pyeongtaek, you can even share your success (or failure) with us in the Pyeongtaek Food & Fun Facebook group. If you are looking for other dishes (Korean or otherwise) or reviews of restaurants, be sure to check out the KimchiRednecks channel or check out our social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram, where we often share what we are cooking or eating.

Read more in our Year to Learn Korean Cooking Series

A year to learn Korean cooking