Friday, May 30, 2008

Mixed Rice2, Dolsot Bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥)

Sizzling Stone Pot Rice, A Multi-Grain Mix of Rice Mixed with Seasoned Vegetables & Meat
Dolsot Bibimbap

This Sizzling Stone Pot Mixed Rice, Dolsot Bibimbap*, should be called Dolsot Bibim Ogokbap (돌솥 비빔 오곡밥) because not only is the rice physically mixed with all the vegetables, meat, and rice as in traditional bibimbap, but the grains themselves are composed of a mix, hence Mixed Rice².

My blend of grains diverges from the traditional ogokbap five-grains± of sweet rice, foxtail millet, red beans, black beans, and sorghum. And, unlike ogokbap, which is traditionally served on the day of Jeongwol Daeboreum, the first full moon of the new lunar year, my grain mix has been modified for daily consumption. While health-conscious Koreans are increasingly consuming multi-grain rice nowadays, I find pre-packaged blends of mixed grains to not be quite to my liking. I don’t like the taste of beans in rice that I plan to eat with kimchi, unless they are buttery Peruvian lima beans or quick-to-cook lentils. Nor do I like wild black rice mixed with sticky rice. Wild black rice tastes better, in my opinion, with fragrant, long grain rice, like jasmine rice. Some varieties of black rice not only poke at your throat but also bleed into the rice, coloring the rice a dark purple. Grains and beans also have different soaking times, and the pre-packaged multi-grain rice does not allow you to adjust for the different soaking times.

Multi-grain Rice

In my everyday version of ogokbap, I blend short grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, foxtail millet, wheat berry, oat groats, green lentils, and peas to create a golden brown rice mix with flecks of yellow and green. Combine this rice with a medley of delicately seasoned summer vegetables, earthy shitake mushrooms and burdock, and well-marbled bulgogi-style flank meat and you have a well-balanced meal all in one bowl! Crack in an egg, drop a dollop of kochujang or samjang, mix the mix up, and your dolsot bibimbap will be ready to eat!

Nurunji bap

Cooked in a granite stone pot, even the leftover roasted rice stuck to the bottom of the pot, nurungi, is delicious and is, in fact, a favorite Korean snack now sold in grocery stores. After you scoop out the rice, pour water into the stone pot for a toasty, after-meal palette cleanser.
* Also spelled tolsot pibimbap.
Ogokbap, also called chapgokbap, is served on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunar year.
± The exact grain blend varies, depending on which region you examine. Sometimes, for instance, black soybeans are included. Generally, the grains used in ogokbap are those they plan to plant in the coming year.
Samjang, also spelled ssamjang, is a combination of kochujang, fermented hot pepper paste, and doenjang, fermented soybean paste. Although kochujang is more commonly used in bibimbap, samjang may also be used.

Dolsot Bibimbap Recipe

~ Serves 2 people

Soaking and Cooking the Mixed Grains
Peruvian lima beans require a longer soaking time of 4-6 hours and at least three water changes (in hot weather, soaking time is less than in cold weather). Otherwise, most of the grains here are relatively quick-to-soak-and-cook.

1 cup short grain brown rice
½ cup sweet brown rice
2 tbs split peas
2 tbs wheat berry
2 tbs foxtail millet
1 tbs lentils
1 tbs oat groats
¼ tsp salt

1. Soak the short grain brown rice, sweet brown rice and wheat berry together for 1 ½ - 2 hours and separately, the lentils for the same time, rinsing the lentils thoroughly and changing the water at least once.
2. Soak the millet for one hour, rubbing the grains and changing the water at least once.
3. Drain the millet and set aside.
4. Mix together the short grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, split peas, wheat berry, lentils, and oat groats and rinse once more. Drain and set aside.
5. Make sure your stone pot has been properly cleaned. See below for Dolsot Cleaning Instructions.
6. Put all of the grains except the millet in the pot with three cups of water.

7. Bring the water to a boil with the lid off. Dissolve salt into the boiling water.
8. After boiling gently for 15 minutes, add the millet in, decrease the heat to low, and cover the pot, leaving a crack of an opening.
9. Cook for another 15 minutes and then seal the opening shut with the lid.
10. Cook for another 15 minutes on very low, and then turn off and let sit for 5 minutes.
11. Fluff the rice with a fork and immediately seal to preserve the heat.

Preparing the Vegetables
Some people feel that bibimbap has a very labor-intensive process for preparing and seasoning vegetables, but actually, you can use whatever seasonal vegetables you like, including fresh sprouts and purple cabbage, both of which involve no preparation other than washing and chopping! Alternatively, you can cheat and go to the Korean grocery store and pick up prepared banchans such as doraji saengchae (marinated bellflower root) and pre-packed bibimbap seasoned vegetables. In general, the best short cut is using the right equipment. A mandolin slicer, as featured in Ratatouille and my cucumber salad recipe, is indispensable in any recipe that calls for slicing vegetables into thin disks or matchsticks.

3 medium carrots, sliced into matchsticks
2 Italian squash, sliced into matchsticks, leaving out the seed middle
1 lb chrysanthemum, leaves separated from stalks, stalks chopped in 1” pieces
2 tbs distilled white vinegar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

1. Boil 6 cups of water with vinegar and salt.
2. Using a metal sieve, douse the carrots in the boiling water for 1 minute and then immerse in a bowl of icy water. Drain and set aside.
3. Douse the Italian squash for 45 seconds, immerse in icy water, drain and set aside.
4. Douse chrysanthemum leaves for 30 seconds, immerse in icy water, squeeze dry, and set aside.
5. Douse chrysanthemum stalks for 2 minutes, immerse in icy water, drain, and combine with wilted chrysanthemum leaves.
6. Coat the wilted chrysanthemum leaves and stalks with the soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, salt, and black pepper.

Soybean sprouts- Mung bean spouts may also be used as a substitute for soybean sprouts. Although they are not as wide available, I do think they have a better flavor than soybean sprouts. You can also sprout your own, but it takes a few days.

1 ½ cups soybean sprouts
1 cup water
7. Place soybean spouts and water in a covered pot.
8. Boil for three minutes and then drain and set aside.
Ginkgo nuts- These healthy nuts are a beautiful addition to bibimbap, adding a wonderful chewiness and nutty flavor.

1 cup gingko nuts
2 tsp of vegetable oil

9. In a non-stick pan with oil, roast shelled ginkgo nuts over medium heat.
10. Transfer to a brown paper bag and rub between hands to remove the shell. Set aside.
Burdock & Shitake Mushrooms- The burdock root, which resembles a parsnip once peeled, adds a deep, earthy flavor. Similarly, shitake mushrooms add earthy and rustic undertones to this bibimbap.

1 burdock root, approximately 2 ½ ft, cut into matchsticks
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp honey

4-5 shitake mushrooms, fresh or thoroughly soaked and sliced
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp honey

11. Over medium heat, pour the oil in the pan, then add the crushed garlic, sliced burdock, and roast for five minutes.
12. Add the soy sauce and honey, stirring often to make sure the burdock is well-coated. Cook until the burdock is browned on the edges, approximately 10 minutes.
13. Repeat these steps for the sliced shitake mushrooms.

Literally translated, fired-meat adds a punch of protein to this otherwise vegetable-intense dish.

10 ounces of well-marbled rib-eye or tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 tbs + 1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbs vermouth
2 tbs maesil ju, green plum wine
1 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ onion, sliced
¼ cup pineapple juice
½ tsp black pepper, ground
2 tsp red pepper threads, cut in 1” pieces

1. Put all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes.
3. Remove cover and on medium heat, cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and turned into a thicker sauce, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Set aside.
Dolsot Bibimbap
All of the prepared toppings won’t fit on the top of the rice in the dolsot, so arrange a bit of each for the purposes of presentation on top. You can then allow your guests to add more vegetables and meat to each of their dishes.

Ssamjang or kochujang
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds for garnish
1 sheet gim, seasoned, roasted pressed laver, shredded for garnish
1. First, crack the eggs on the piping hot rice.
2. Arrange the vegetables and meat on top of the rice in the pot.
3. Serve with more vegetables, meat, and a dollop of either kochujang or samjang.
4. Garnish with seaweed and sesame seeds.

Instructions on How To Clean Your New Dolsot, Chiseled Granite Stone Pot

You may notice that dolsots are traditionally a shiny jet black color, reminiscent more of cast iron than chiseled granite. Dolsots become this way over time after repeated seasonings with oil and salt. Chonju, a Korean city, is famous for serving delicious bibimbap in these striking jet black granite bowls. My dolsot has not gone through enough seasonings to get this color, but I am noticing it steadily getting darker with each serving of bibimbap.

There are two different ways to wash your new granite stone pot. Regardless of which method you choose, you must never wash your dolsot with soap. The granite surface of stone pots is very porous and will absorb the soap and emit a very-difficult-to-rid-of-soapy-flavor.

The First Method
1. Rinse your pot very well.
2. Wearing rubber gloves to prevent your hands from chafing and becoming dried from the salt, pour a generous amount of salt into bowl and rub the salt around the sides and bottom. You will notice the salt pick up the dirt and become grey in color.
3. Rinse the bowl well.
4. Fill the bowl with water and at least ¼ cup of salt and bring to a boil.

The Second Method
1. Rinse your pot very well.
2. Place your stone pot in a large pot filled with salted water.
3. Bring the large pot of water to a boil.
4. Boil for an hour.
5. Remove the pot once the water is cooled.
6. For good measure, rub salt in the inside of the bowl to remove any sanded stone residue.

Dolsot Maintenance
After each use, use only salt and water to clean your dolsot. If you wear rubber gloves, you can either rub the salt into the dolsot to clean it well or just boil the whole thing to remove large residual rice grains and etc. Once your dolsot has dried, rub a little oil all around it and inside it. Keep it away from dust.

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