Healthy Homemade Korean Bibimbap

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The other week for Friday Night Dinner, The Kid and I experienced our very first bowls of bibimbap at  a Korean restaurant. If you’ve never heard of bibimbap, you’re in for a unique taste experience. Basically it’s a bowl of crispy rice topped with different stir fried veggies, a sweet and spicy sauce, and a fried egg. The veggies are put on top of the rice in little piles so that they stay separated until you mix them up how you like.

The dinner was incredible but judging from the taste of things, it was definitely not an every day meal since it was loaded with fat, sauces, and sodium. I’m not used to salting my food, and the sodium really did a number on me and I puffed up worse than Spongebob on a bad day. I will say I appreciated the water retention helping to plump up my bony old lady hands. 😉

I decided to figure out a way to still enjoy a dinner like that but to do it Quest Style. I googled around for recipes for bibimbap and took a little bit of this and a little bit of that from the ones that I found. It turns out that it wasn’t that difficult to put together, but the downside is that it created a huge load of dishes. I cut the sodium, fat and calories by using low sodium soy sauce, adding a dab of sauce to the bowl after cooking, and using non-stick spray.

To simplify the preparation, I chopped all the veggies first and separated them onto their own plates. When it was time to stir fry them, I dumped them off the plate, stir fried, and then dumped them cooked back onto the same plate while I moved on to the next veggie. You can do this with the veggies without risk, but do NOT return the cooked steak to the same plate as the raw steak.

Korean Bibimbap Korean Bibimbap

Pickled Carrots

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp minced  ginger
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 oz (approx 1 cup) shredded carrots

Mix all ingredients except the carrots in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in the carrots. Let them sit while you prepare the rest of dinner.

Crispy Rice

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 cups cooked rice

Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat for approximately 5 minutes. Add the sesame oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the rice and press with a spoon into a layer in the bottom of the pan. Cook for one minute without stirring and remove from heat. Let the rice sit in the pan so that the bottom turns slightly crispy.

Stir Fry Toppings

  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup (85g) shredded cabbage
  • 4 cups (100g) spinach and kale blend
  • 8 oz thin cut top sirloin, cut into strips
  • 4 eggs

  • 4 tsp gochujang sauce

Mix the soy sauce, sugar, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Heat a pan over medium high heat and spray with non-stick spray. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute until they start to soften. Add a spoonful of the soy sauce mixture and cook another minute until the mushrooms are cooked. Remove from heat and put the mushrooms on a plate to keep warm.

In the same pan, stir fry the shredded cabbage the same way. Add a spoonful of the soy sauce mixture and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat and put on a plate. Repeat with the spinach and kale and then the steak strips. After removing the steak, return the pan to the heat and fry the eggs until the yolks are slightly firm.

Fill 4 bowls evenly with the crispy rice (approximately 1 cup) and top with the pickled carrots, cabbage, spinach, steak, and an egg. Add 1 tsp of the gochujang sauce to each bowl and enjoy. Makes 4 servings at 392 calories each – 24g protein, 47g carbs, and 13g fat.

Notes

  • I prepared the carrots and let them sit to pickle while making the rice and rest of the veggies. You could easily make them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. That would save you a little time and you can use them in other dishes if you make a larger batch.
  • The purpose of heating the pan and oil over high heat before adding the rice is to have layer of oil on the bottom to crisp up the rice and almost fry it. That’s why you don’t want to stir the rice once you spread it out in the pan. Just spread, cook 1 minute and remove from the heat to let it sit and do its thing. Don’t touch it again until you are ready to put it in the bowls. I used a pancake turner to remove the rice almost like a slice of pie.
  • You can use more or less veggies to your taste. If you don’t like one of them, substitute something else. I like the spinach and kale blend but you can also use just spinach.
  • Gochujang is a Korean sauce that can be found in the Asian section of larger grocery stores. The brand I found was Annie Chun’s and it seems to be pretty main stream even though I’d never heard of it before this.

I’m a mixer when I eat my bibimbap. I break the egg yolk with my fork and mix it up into a mess. The Kid is more of an eat things separately person. She eats it pile on its own. That’s the fun part about bibimbap, you can do it your way and now you don’t have to worry about falling off the sodium and calorie wagon in the process.

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