Bee Bim Bop – Korean Stir Fry

This dinner has a lovely beginning.  Before the sauteing, before the boiling, before the chopping…. before the garden and the grocery store.  Before all that came the children’s book.  My son and I stumbled on this lovely book in our neighborhood library when he was 5.

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The book tells the tale of a little girl shopping with her mother to purchase the ingredients for a Korean dish called Bee Bim Bop.  It rhymes and bounces along happily and on the very last page there awaits a recipe.  My then 5 year old son wanted to try it.  So we did and it has been a staple at our house in the 9 years since we read the book 🙂

The recipe can be made with or without meat, although I do believe that the egg is a wonderful addition.  I make it with veggies and egg now, but I used to use chicken.

Whichever way you try it, it’s delicious and if you have small children, this book is a great place to start to introduce them to something new.  In fact, it would make a lovely time to read it and then cook it together.  Nothing says try me like something you’ve cooked yourself!

This is my take on the recipe from the book – meatless and, in true Pantry style – with the veggies I had on hand.

Ingredients:
2 cups brown rice
2 cloves of garlic
4 scallions, sliced, including most of the green
5 Tbsp soy sauce (I use Bragg’s liquid aminos)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used avocado)
1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon roasted (or raw) sesame seeds (optional)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 carrots
a head of broccoli cut into florets
2 cups fresh spinach
4 eggs
salt and pepper
Tabasco sauce

If you want to use meat, then cut down the amount of vegetables and mix the garlic, soy sauce, scallions, sugar and sesame oil and marinate while cutting veggies / doing other prep.

Set rice to cooking at the beginning so it will be done in time.

Scramble the eggs and set aside – get out small fry pan to cook a thin layer of egg 4 times.  Oil the bottom as necessary for your pan.

For meatless version:

Mix soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds, sesame oil and pepper.

Place vegetable oil in a frying pan and saute the minced or pressed garlic and the scallions.

Cook until translucent and fragrant.  Add the chopped veggies.

While veggies cook (not too long – keep ’em green and bright!) Pour 1/4 egg into pan at a time and cook about 1 minute each side.

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When all 4 ‘omelettes’ are done, stack them and slice into ribbons.  I usually cut into ribbons and ten cut the ribbons in half.

Turn off the heat on your veggies and add the spinach. Stir it in to wilt.

Serve over rice with egg strips on top – and a bit of tabasco makes a wonderful addition to this.  If you want to be authentic you serve Kim Chee with it – a Korean spicy fermented cabbage that can be purchased ready made in many places.

Mix it all up – that’s what bee-bim means, ‘Mix mix’.

The original recipe encourages you to cook each item separately and then allow people to choose what they want.  That’s a lovely way to do it but on most nights I’m thinking, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”  But if you do it’s yet another way to engage hesitant eaters…. at least they have a little say on what goes in the bowl!

Nice alternative veggies would be cabbage, mung bean sprouts would be good on top, or other hearty greens.

However you do it – this is a wonderful alternative taste to stir-fry.

To serve, put bowls of all the different meal components on the table and allow each family member to serve themselves. Pile the meat and veggies on top of the rice and top with the egg. Add some of the “gravy” from the cooked meat. Finally, mix (remember, “bee-bim” means “mix”) everything together. And enjoy!

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Crunchy Lunchy

The last time I tried sprouts was MANY years ago, when they were only available in the health food store, and the health food store was a small, locally owned affair with hand painted murals on the walls and revolutionary music and patchouli in the air.  Lest I give you the wrong impression, this was in about 1991.  You may be surprised to find that I did not become a sprout loving Momma until recently.  When I tried them before, they were okay.  Just okay.  There were an awful lot of them, however, and they DO spoil; I didn’t like them enough to try to plan meals around them (planning really wasn’t my thing at the time), and since I was only preparing food for myself, the math simply didn’t work out.  They were too expensive.  Flash forward and EVERYTHING in that last sentence has changed.

I purchased some sprouts last summer, after having them with an awesome stir-fry Big Sis made for us at the beach, and they were good.  Liked them.  I still thought they were a bit pricey, but with more people to partake, the risk of spoilage was minimized.  Then I found out just how nutritious they are.  Then I realized my children liked them.  Then I realized that I LOVE them on everything.  The final piece of this sprouty puzzle was solved when I took 10 minutes on the internet to find out how to grow the little buggers… so here it is.  Your tutorial on a DIY sprouter and sprouting, for next to nothing.  What does this have to do with lunch?  EVERYTHING.  Know what makes ANY sandwich filling taste better?  Sprouts.  Know what makes any leftovers taste fresh and a little crunchy in a great vegetable kind of way?  Sprouts.  Know what makes you feel very clever when you grow them on your counter and include them in your thrifty and nutritious brown bag lunch?  Sprouts.  So without further ado…

To grow sprouts, you need a sprouter.  You are welcome to buy one, but I am too cheap to do that, so here’s my solution: large canning jar with 2 part lid and some mesh.  I happened to have clean window screening material from making beach bags for kids, but I imagine any mesh would work.

Next I used a yellow crayon to trace about 1/2 inch around the inner part of the canning lid and cut the circle of screening,

stretched the mesh tightly over the top of the jar and screwed the outer ring on tight to check for fit.
After washing everything, I added 1/4c of dried mung beans (purchased bulk from my food coop) to the jar,

My sister’s hand… oh wait, that’s me. Weird.

and added water until the jar was nearly full.  I left them to soak overnight, drained the water by turning it over (with the lovely screened lid still on…. doh). And the next day rinsed the beans with fresh water, and drained them again. Many of the skins had cracked. I proceeded to rinse them twice a day for the next couple of days and watched their astonishing progress.

Day 2

Day 3 – Pics through the glass did NOT get easier

There’s the sprouts we’re looking for – rinsed on the morning of day 4 and put in the fridge.

And so we’ve proceeded to eat them with everything, because they’re awesome.  And they cost me about twenty cents.  Yep, twenty cents to fill a one pound strawberry container with delicious homegrown sprouts.  Ahhh nothing more satisfying than some thrifty nutrition.

WHAT to do with so many flippin’ sprouts you ask?  Well aside from the aforementioned sandwich glorification, there is always the prospect of a great NAMUL!!!  Oh yes, we return to our friend the namul, and my new best friend Ani Phyo’s cookbook.  As a fabulous salad at lunch, my hubby and I enjoyed:

MUNG BEAN SPROUT NAMUL – adapted from Ani Phyo‘s recipe in Ani’s Raw Food Asia

  • 4 c mung bean sprouts
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • 1 small clove garlic, made small however you like
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t minced ginger
  • large pinch red pepper or chili flakes

Doesn’t get much easier than this kind of procedure.  Put all in bowl, toss.  Wait 20 minutes or so.  Eat.  Love.

We had ours as a side to veggie burgers at lunch, but I could easily see adding it to the top of any Asian dish with crunchy scrumptious results.  While I must confess the kids wouldn’t touch this one, I should also say that I was glad, deep inside, that I got to eat that much more.  Delish.