Have you heard of bee-bim bop? I hadn’t, until Christmas Day when Squish opened a gift from his cousins in Ohio. They sent lots and lots of books, but the one that attached itself most firmly to Squish’s mind and heart was called Bee-Bim Bop! I’ve been reading it a couple of times a day since then and both boys have been pretty excited about trying bee-bim bop, which, the book tells us, is a popular Korean dish that translates to “mix-mix rice.” It’s basically a rice bowl with various vegetables, eggs, and meat mixed in. “Mix it, mix like crazy!” the book says. And the boys thought that sounded like fun.
“Bee-bim bop!” Squish would say as he came to wake us up in the morning.
“I want some bee-bim bop,” he’d mention at various times throughout the day.
And sometimes he’d just randomly burst out with, “Bee! Bim! Bop!”
So on Sunday when I asked the boys what they wanted for dinner this week, there was an enthusiastic nomination and a second for bee-bim bop. Perfect. Something the boys were excited about.
I’m sure you can imagine how the story goes from here. Micah and I made the dish together (I cut my finger the other day and have a hard time wielding a knife with any degree of safety or accuracy), and we enjoyed it together. The boys, on the other hand, were less than thrilled with actual bee-bim bop in front of their faces than they were by it on the pages of a book. (I can so relate.) Squish picked out all the veggies, meat, and eggs and had passing luck getting the rice into his mouth. Manchild may have taken a bite or two, but by the time dinner was done, his bowl was still full.
Sigh. Maybe we should have encouraged them to mix it with their hands . . . .
Bee-Bim Bop from Bee-Bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park
2 cups white rice (medium grained)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 green onions, chopped
5 T. soy sauce
2 T. sugar
2 T. vegetable oil
1 tsp. roasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 T. sesame oil (optional)
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 pound tender, lean beef (such as sirloin tip) (I used pork since I don’t much like beef), sliced very thin against the grain
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 packages frozen spinach, defrosted, or 1 pound fresh spinach, washed
1 pound mung bean sprouts (I couldn’t find any at my grocery store, so we skipped this)
salt and pepper
ko-chee-chang, optional, for serving
kimchee, optional, for serving
If you have a rice cooker, cook the rice in it with 4 cups of water. If you cook rice on the stove, put the rice in the pot, add 4 cups water, bring the water to a boil, then cover, lower the heat, and let the rice simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the garlic, green onions, soy sauce, sugar, vegetable oil, sesame seeds and sesame oil if using, and black pepper. Add the thinly sliced meat and stir well. Then use your hands to squish it all around for a couple of minutes. Set the meat aside.
Over medium heat, warm a small frying pan with 1 tsp. of vegetable oil. Beat the eggs in a large measuring cup or small bowl until they are well mixed. Once it is warm, pour about 1/4 of the egg mixture onto the pan. Rotate it quickly so the egg covers the bottom of the pan completely in a thin layer. Cook for about 1 minute, then flip the egg over and cook for another minute. Remove to a plate or cutting board and repeat with the rest of the eggs and stack the egg “pancakes” on top of each other. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, roll the stack tightly and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Put the egg “ribbons” in a bowl.
In the now empty frying pan, heat another tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add the carrots and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes. Put the cooked carrots in a bowl.
If you are using frozen, thawed spinach, squeeze as much water out of it as you can. If you are using fresh spinach, cook it in a pot with a little water for a few minutes, until it is wilted and dark green. Drain it and squeeze as much water out of it as you can. For either frozen or fresh spinach, cook in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour a cup of water in a sauce pan and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Put the pan over high heat and once it boils, add the bean sprouts. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the bean sprouts and empty into a bowl.
Put a large frying pan over high heat. Heat the pan for about 30 seconds, then dump the bowl of meat and marinade into the pan. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir the meat to make sure it all gets cooked. It should take 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Put the bowls with the prepared ingredients on the table where everyone can reach. Each person puts a pile of rice in their bowl, then tops with the vegetables, eggs, and meat (with gravy/pan juices). Then mix it all together and dig in! Serve with ko-chee-chang (hot pepper paste) in the rice bowl and/or kimchee on the side.