Beefed-up bibimbap

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Traditionally served in hot stone bowls, this Korean speciality is positively encouraged towards a burnt rice bottom. I usually dive spoon-first, deep down to the stone-brown scrapings and count each topping I pick up, as I resurface, a blessing. To bibimbap properly you must gochujang – a thick, sweet Korean sauce, which brightens rice with its sweet, oriental tang. It is usually served with a fried egg on top, which is mashed ignominiously into the dish before serving.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 225 g/8 oz/ cups Thai fragrant rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • tbsp rice vinegar
  • tbsp caster/granulated sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 300 g/10½ oz rib-eye steak, thinly sliced
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • 115 g/4 oz/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and finely sliced
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
  • 150 g/ oz/ cups bean sprouts
  • 300 g/10½ oz pak choi/bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 3 spring onions/scallions, finely sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the rice in a saucepan with 455 ml/16 fl oz/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to medium and simmer for around 20 minutes. Once all the rice looks as though it has been absorbed, clamp on a tight lid and remove the pan from the heat.

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and half the sesame oil in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until all the sugar dissolves. Add the sliced steak to this mixture and coat in the marinade. Leave to one side.

Heat a little sunflower oil in a wok over a medium-high heat. Toss in the shiitake mushrooms, drizzle with a little sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove them from the pan and leave to one side.

Now repeat this process with the carrots and the bean sprouts, adding each ingredient separately to the heated pan with a little sunflower oil and removing and setting each one aside to be combined later.

Finally, cook the pak choi/bok choy in the same way, adding half the gochujang sauce. Add half of the sesame seeds and the remaining sesame oil. Toss for 2 minutes until the pak choi/bok choy is wilted.

Heat a little oil in a wok over a medium-high heat until hot. Add the marinated steak and cook for 2–4 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the steak is cooked through.

Divide the rice among serving bowls. Top each bowl of rice with a quarter of the steak and a quarter of each of the vegetables. They should be arranged over the top of the rice in a pie-chart formation, each colour segment butted up to the next. Sprinkle with the sliced spring onions/scallions and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds. Serve hot with the remaining gochujang sauce on the side.