One of the drawbacks of working with food all the time is that I inevitably eat more than I should. Since I’d rather eat nothing at all, than eat food that doesn’t taste good, this also means that I tend to eat food that skews towards unhealthy. After getting yelled at by my doctor during a recent visit, I decided I needed to add more healthy dishes to my repertoire.
Bi Bim Bap is a wonderful Korean dish that literally means “mixed rice”. In restaurants, it comes out looking like a color wheel, with small portions of individually seasoned veggies and meat on top. The whole thing is crowned with a fried egg, and you’re supposed to mix it all together with a generous dollop of gochujang (sweet chili bean paste).
In my quest to come up with something healthy, I created this “Beet Broc Bap”. I started with a bowl of brown rice, and topped with sukju namul, sauteed mushrooms, seasoned broccoli, raw shredded beats, and a gorgeous Jidori egg. Since Gochujang is loaded with sugar, I came up with an alternative sauce that has a similar spicy, nutty flavor without quite as much sugar.
Aside from looking pretty, and adding some natural sweetness to the bi bim bap, the beets are loaded with iron, folate and vitamin C. The chromium in broccoli helps enhance the effect of insulin, resulting in better uptake of glucose. It also happens to be loaded with cancer preventing phytochemicals. The shiitake mushrooms are an excellent source of iron, copper and zinc, and the brown rice is a good source of dietary fiber.
Sure, the toppings aren’t exactly traditional, but this is a healthier version of one of my favorite dishes, that doesn’t skimp much on flavor or presentation. Since vegetables tend to vary in size, and every person has different tastes, keep this in mind when preparing the toppings, and adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes. This bi bim bap also makes for a great packed lunch. Just put down a layer of rice in a tupperware, add the toppings and have it the next day for lunch at room temperature. For my little lunch bi bim bap above, I ran out of fresh beets, so I just substituted in some beet and onion pickles that I’d made earlier in the week.
Vegetarian Bi Bim Bap Recipe
1 small head of broccoli
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic finely grated
1 small beet shredded with a mandoline
2 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
for the hot sauce
1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
1 small clove garlic finely grated
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2 high quality eggs fried sunny side up
1 cup short grain brown rice cooked according to the package directions
To make the broccoli, cut the florets off the stalk, then peel and slice the stalk into 1/4″ pieces. Boil a pot of salted water and add the broccoli. Return to a boil and cook for one minute. Drain the broccoli and chop it up into bite size pieces. Toss it with the sesame oil, salt and garlic.
For the beets, toss the beets, vinegar and salt together.
For the mushrooms, heat the sesame oil in a small pan and fry the mushrooms with the salt until lightly browned and fragrant.
For the sauce, just mix the gochugaru, miso, salt, honey, water, garlic and curry powder in a ramekin to combine.
To plate, put a layer of brown rice at the bottom of two bowls. Scatter the mushrooms on top of both bowls, then cover half of each bowl with beets. Cover the other half with the broccoli, then top with a fried egg. Serve immediately with the hot sauce.