The perfect way to regain some of that strength after going ten rounds with the Kindergarteners, Bi Bim Bap dishes all follow a variation on a basic set-up of rice, julienned vegetables, a fried egg, dried sea weed and sesame seeds. If you opt to go dol sot (which I do, always) then the whole thing arrives in a sizzling bowl adding a bit of pizzazz to the whole arrangement. Into this tumultuous cauldron go a few spoonfuls of gloopy, firey chilli paste to taste, after which it’s ready to go.
With Bi Bim Bap you’ve gotta work for your supper, giving everything a good mix to evenly distributed the various parts. The result is a mighty fine bowl of food. The rice, a staple of the Korean diet is transformed by the chilli paste and sea weed, while the egg provides an indispensible protein fix. While I mostly eat this basic version of Bi Bim Bap at the diner beside our school at lunch times, we will occasionally go to a special Bi Bim Bap restaurant for dinner, where a number of variations are on offer. My personal favourite is an extra spicy concoction that includes a liberal amount of tender, shredded pork and a bowl of mussel soup on the side.
I originally dismissed this unprepossessing bowl of rice and vegetables as merely a healthier (and as such less interesting) alternative to whatever dead animal I was in the process of shovelling onto my plate, but I am fast finding out that, as with a lot of Korean Food, there is more, much more.