Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Flying Vegan Korean Bibimbap

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I live in the boonies.  I mean, don’t get me wrong:  I LOVE MY HOUSE.  It is bee-yoo-ti-ful where I live.  We have twenty acres of trees, wildlife, and poison ivy.  It rocks!  We live three miles from a historic Shaker village, with pastoral scenes a-plenty.  We’re also not far from the Kentucky River, and the when the fog rolls up over the palisades, well, it’s pretty darn breathtaking.

But, it also means that I do a LOT of what I like to call Flying by the Seat of My Pants cooking and baking.  Now, mind you, I commute to the big city of Lexington to work every Monday through Friday, so it’s not like I don’t have access to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the Good Foods Co-op.  But that requires PLANNING, with a capital P.  And sometimes the urge to make some fantastic vegan recipe or another just overtakes you, and you’re not gonna find a package of fermented Korean chili paste down at the Dollar General.  So, you learn to wing it.

A couple weekends ago, I was curled up reading Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero (y’all curl up with vegan cookbooks like other people curl up with novels, right?) and read about Bibimbap.  While her recipe was definitely intriguing, I knew the chili paste was going to be a challenge (see Dollar General comment above).  So I jumped onto the internet (thanks, Satellite!) and did some more research.  I read a bunch of other recipes for Bibimbap, checked out Wikipedia, and watched some videos on YouTube. 

This one in particular caught my eye:
What’s that you say?  Cute young Korean Boy Band stars cooking tasty food?  Yes, please!
(Totally random side note:  If you’ve never seen the Japanese boy band SMAP’s cooking show, you need to check that out, too: SMAP!

Okay, so back to Bibimbap.  I let all this information marinate in my brain for awhile, and finally came up with the version below.  It’s got a lot of components cobbled together from various books, recipes and videos, but none of them are difficult, and well, it’s basically one of my new absolutely favorite meals.  Authentic? Nope.  I’ve never had Bibimbap in my life before.  Delicious?  Hands down awesome!  I hope you enjoy it.  Thanks!

Flying Vegan Korean Bibimbap

Basically, you need to make all these components and then assemble your bowls.

Start by putting on some sushi rice to cook (enough for 2-3 servings). 

Prep your veggies:  matchstick cut some carrots (I used 2 medium), zucchini (1 medium), one bunch of green onions.  Set aside to sauté in a bit.  You’ll also need a couple big handfuls of baby spinach and a coupla handfuls of mung bean sprouts.  And you could do some mushrooms, too.  Or whatever strikes your fancy.

Flying Bibimbap Chili Sauce (serves 2-3): Mix and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

2 Tbsp. mellow white miso
2 tsp. sriracha
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
2 green onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
2 tsp. sugar

Flying Bibimbap Seitan:

2 patties of your favorite homemade seitan (here’s mine), sliced into thin strips and marinated in:
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. rice wine (mirin)
2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
4 cloves minced garlic
Pinch of black pepper

Let seitan marinate for about 20-30 minutes, then sauté over medium high heat until sauce is reduced, things are hot, seitan is a little browned, and it smells yummy.  Set aside.

While seitan is marinating:

Flying Asian Style Tofu Omelet:  (This is based on the Vegan Brunch Tofu Omelet recipe)

Whiz up in the blender:
½ package tofu (firm, extra firm, soft, silken, whatever.  I’m not fussy.  I used extra firm cuz that’s what I had.  Trader Joe’s makes a tofu two-pack that is nice for this.)
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
¼ cup water mixed with ½ tsp. Better than Bouillon Not-Chick’n broth stuff  (**You may need less water depending on the type of tofu you use)
Pinch of turmeric for yellow color (optional)
If you’ve got it, add ½ tsp Indian black salt for eggi-ness

Heat up a skillet (non-stick or cast iron) over medium heat, and spread about a teaspoon of sesame oil on the skillet.  Now add about ½ cup of the tofu batter and spread it out with a spoon so it looks like a pancake.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for another minute.  Repeat until batter is used up, then slice omelets into matchstick strips.  Set aside.

Flying Veggies:

In separate batches, sauté the carrots, zucchini and green onions in sesame oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Set in separate piles on a plate for fixing up your Bibimbap bowls.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Bring a medium size stockpot full of water to a boil and drop in your mung bean sprouts.  Boil for about 3 minutes, then scoop out with a strainer and rinse with cold water.  Put in a bowl and toss with some sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar (about a tsp of each).  Set aside.

Put the spinach in a colander in the sink and pour the boiling water from the mung bean sprouts over it.  Let it drain out, then use a wooden spoon to press out as much of the excess water as possible.  When it’s not too hot to handle, you can pick it up and squeeze it more.  It’s fun!  Then dress the same way as the sprouts.  Set aside.

Whew!  Almost ready to assemble our bowls!

Heat up your cast iron skillet over medium/medium-high heat and swirl in some sesame oil.  Now scoop in some of your cooked sushi rice and let it cook for a couple minutes, until the rice is lightly browned on the bottom.  Put the sesame fried rice in a bowl.  We are ready to be artistes!

Get yourself a nice size serving bowl and a nice amount of rice in the bottom.  Then decoratively arrange your toppings (seitan, tofu omelet, veggies) around the sides.  Finish with a nice big dollop of Flying Bibimbap chili sauce in the middle.  Sprinkle the whole thing with more sesame seeds.  Admire.  Take pictures.

Now, stir it all up and EAT EAT EAT!!!!  

*Disclaimer:  I know I was complaining about not being able to find stuff like gochujang earlier in this post, and then used a bunch of esoteric ingredients like black salt, miso and chickpea flour and stuff.  But you guys have got all that stuff in your pantries already because you're vegan, right? RIGHT?

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