Bibimbap

 In 2011, it was #40 on CNN’s World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll.  If you enjoy this dish –which literally means bibim (mixed) bap (rice) — you have Korea to thank.  When I visited a Korean church in New York several years back, someone told me that the dish originated as a poor man’s dish — people mixing everything that they had and eating it with rice before it spoiled.  Other’s have different — and perhaps more legit — histories.  I really don’t care — the dish is one of my favorites.
I think that traditional dishes typically have a wide variety of veggies, including cucumbers, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, and lettuce, as well as beef.  Some serve it with steamed rice while others get it served in a hot stone bowl (called: dolsot bibimbap).  Sometimes the dish is topped with a fried or raw egg.  All typically mix everything with red chili sauce.  One of my favorite things about this dish is that there are so many variations, meaning that it’s hard to go wrong when trying to make it.
Many restaurants — even somewhat higher end ones — are introducing this dish to their menus creatively.  I’ve heard of some who make this dish using non-korean ingredients and sauces.  I think that this is a brilliant idea.
At home, we’ve made it with jasmine rice and with mexican (long grain) rice.  We’ve also used beans and avocado as ingredients or cream sauces instead of the chili sauce.  Rice is an ingredient that is like a blank canvass waiting for us to experiment.  I say that we should take it up on its offer!  In this post I’m including two ways of doing this dish: the first is using what I think are more typical ingredients plated differently (stacked instead of mixed).  The second is experimenting with ingredients that are not commonly used but may be more fresh. (I cooked it for my in-laws who are very much into fresh and healthy!)

Traditional Bibimbap (except for the avocado) stacked for height

Bibimbap served with cabbage tossed in a mild lime/sesame oil vinaigrette, edamame, and a soft-boiled egg.