Krupal Mehta, Mumbai, Maharashtra
For Korean people, rice is more than just a food item. Despite being a staple dish on its own, it is also used towards Korean skin-care and beauty frequently. In older times, rice has also been perceived as a symbol of prosperity and to determine the status of people based on the quantity of rice they used to store at their homes. Rice has two names in Korea- the uncooked rice is called Ssal and the cooked rice is known as Bap. There are many South Korean dishes that can be made using rice as the main ingredient. Let’s see how!
It is a famous food bowl recipe that can make anyone fall in love with food bowls. Bibimbap has rice as the main ingredient along with vegetables, egg, and meat (which is optional). Classic Bibimbap always consists of three main ingredients that are white rice, egg or tofu, and Gochujang sauce. Traditionally white rice is preferred, but one can use any other variety of rice that is available. For vegetarians, eggs can be replaced with cottage cheese or tofu. Gochujang adds a spicy and sweet flavour to the bowl. The vegetables such as bean sprouts, cucumbers, and spinach can be added as well.
Cook the rice and keep it aside. Mix cucumber in gochujang sauce. Boil spinach and other vegetables simultaneously. Add soy sauce to the boiled spinach. Heat cooking oil in a pan and fry garlic, carrot, and other vegetables. Add gochujang sauce, cucumber, salt (if required) and red chili flakes. Stir for 2 minutes, and keep aside. For the last step, assemble the rice in a bowl, add cucumber mixture, spinach, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and more gochujang paste if desired. Bibimbap is ready to be savoured!
This dish is also known as Korean rice balls. Jumeok-bap is a great snack one can take on a picnic and it can also serve as a side dish. The literal translation is Jumeok- fist and bap – rice so it roughly translates to fist-sized rice balls. There are different types of jumeok-bap made in a Korean household. We can even make a vegetarian version of jumeokbap. It consists of vegetables, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice, and salt. Again, white rice is preferred.
Fry the vegetables of your choice in cooking oil. Take a bowl, add fried vegetables, cooked white rice, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and add salt. Grab a fistful of rice and make small balls. Enjoy with other dishes.
Kimbap or Gimbap
Again, an easy, on-the-go meal famous in Korea. Gimbap is rice with delicious fillings (usually vegetables and meat) rolled in seaweed. Gim translates into dried sheets of seaweed and bap is rice. Over time, it has been popularised in Korea and abroad as well. One must have seen these rice balls in many Korean dramas. Authentic gimbap generally includes yellow pickled radish, fish cake, carrots, spinach, eggs, and beef. But the vegetarian version will differ. So with a different combination, Gimbap has evolved a lot. For the recipe, you need Seaweed sheets, white, short-grain rice, and fillings as per your wish. The Gim sheets need to be thick as they need to hold fillings and rice firmly. Roast them lightly before proceeding further.
Spread roasted seaweed sheets. Add cooked rice as a thin layer on top of it. Lay sliced vegetables, add egg and meat (optional). You can also use a bamboo stick which is used to roll the sheets. After placing fillings, gently roll the sheets and hold firmly before rolling again. The only trick lies here is rolling the sheets. Mix sesame oil and salt to rice when rice is hot. Finally, use a sharp knife for cutting rolls.
We all must have had a hundred varieties of burgers to eat, but who knew there could be rice burgers too! Well, Korean people have come up with a unique version of burgers by using rice as buns. Bap burgers are considered as a fast food in South Korea. Fillings generally include kimchi, vegetable like carrots, lettuce, and tuna. You can use short white grain rice or the one available with you.
Place a bowl and cover with plastic. Add cooked rice which will be the lower bun. Add fillings like veggies or kimchi or cheese as per your wish. Cover it with a layer of rice as the upper bun. Wrap the plastic and gently press it down so it takes the form of a burger. To make a firm rice bun and give it some flavor, you can use roasted laver. Crush the laver in a plastic bag and add it to the rice in a bowl. Mix it gently so as not to break the rice.
These were some of my favorite Korean recipes made from rice. Each one is unique in its flavor and process, but it has the same main ingredient- rice.
Tell me about your favourite rice-made Korean dish in the comments below!