Chosen Bites: Rice to meet you

Bibimbap, which means Mixed Rice, is a perfect comforting Korean rice dish topped with sautéed and pickled vegetables and hot chili paste.

Bibimbap, Korean dish which means Mixed Rice. (photo credit: LAURA FRANKEL)
Bibimbap, Korean dish which means Mixed Rice.
(photo credit: LAURA FRANKEL)
Bibimbap, which means Mixed Rice is one of my favorite Korean dishes. It's a perfect comforting weeknight or any night dish.
Warm and tender rice is topped with sautéed and pickled vegetables and Korean hot chili paste. Then the whole kaleidoscope of brightly colored vegetables is topped with a fried egg and some thinly sliced beef. A garnish of toasted sesame seeds and you dig in and wreak havoc mixing up all the delicious flavors and textures for Bibimbap.
The secret to Bibimbap, or any great rice dish for that matter, is the rice. Properly cooked rice is vexing for many people including pros. I've seen great amounts of rice over-cooked, undercooked and some batches containing a little of both.
Great bowls of warm fluffy rice with separate grains starts with good rice. I don’t use part-cooked or quick-cooking rice. Rice is a grain and good rice will cook up light and fluffy. Got some old rice lying around in the pantry? Get rid of it. Old rice will not cook up well and will likely be gummy and starchy.
Before I start cooking rice, I wash the grains. I place the measured rice in a bowl and add cool water. I swish the grains in the water and then pour off the cloudy starchy water. This little trick will ensure separate grains in the final end result.
The basic recipe is one cup of good quality white rice to one and a half cups of water. There is a debate about adding salt when cooking or after cooking. I say add a pinch and then adjust after cooking.
2 medium carrots, julienned ½ cup daikon radish, julienned 1 cup rice wine vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons kosher salt 8 ounces favorite greens such as: kale, bokchoy, spinach 12 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced 6 tablespoons canola oil 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil 2 small zucchini, halved and cut into half-moons4 cloves of garlic, minced 2½ tsp. minced ginger ¾ tsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan 8 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½″-thick pieces 4 cups cooked white rice or brown rice if you prefer 4 sunny-side-up eggs 1 cup Napa cabbage, cut into julienne 2 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Heat the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan to a simmer. Pour the pickling liquid over the daikon and carrots. Allow the vegetables to pickle in the mixture over night and for up to five days.
2. Heat a wok or heavy sauté pan over high heat. Add two tablespoons of canola oil and one teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Sauté the greens until lightly wilted (about 30 seconds) and transfer to a bowl. Do the same for the mushrooms. Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl.
3. Add the zucchini to the pan and add the garlic and ginger. Sauté the mixture until lightly golden and softened (about two minutes).
4. Divide the rice into four bowls and arrange the vegetables and tofu in each bowl. Top each bowl with sesame seeds and sauce if desired.
For the sauce
 ¼ cup spicy red chili paste or favorite hot sauce 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons corn syrup 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 1 teaspoon grated garlic (I use a microplane to grate the garlic finely) 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed
1. Whisk the mixture together. Store, covered in the refrigerator. For the beef
8 ounces rib eye steak cut into thin strips1 tablespoons Bibimbap sauce 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1. Marinate the steak in the sauce for at least 1 hour.
2. Heat wok or heavy sauté pan over high heat. 3. Stir fry the steak for two minutes for medium rare or longer for desired doneness.

Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.