Why do mice seem to follow me everywhere I go? I’m like the modern day Pied Piper, but instead of a pipe, I have a jar of pickled carrots. I didn’t even know mice liked Korean food, let alone pickled carrots but, while I was cooking recently, I spotted one staring up at me from the kitchen floor with his horrible little beady eyes. And as quick as he came he was gone, like a thief in the night.
‘JAMIEEEEEEEEEEEE!’ I screamed, waiting for my gallant boyfriend to come in and deal with the wee beasty. Not likely. Jamie hurried out of the bedroom before swiftly turning on his heel and retreating at the mere mention of the word ‘mouse’. So much for my knight in shining armour.
So I set about emptying the cupboards, pulling out drawers and hoovering every nook and cranny before coming to the conclusion that my little guest was simply passing through. He probably lives downstairs with my neighbour – she’s a dusty old drunk who loves living in squalor so they’re probably best friends.
Anyway, so then we ate our Bibimbap in peace – after I coaxed Jamie out of the bedroom, that is. He hates mice, despite having a lot in common with them. For a start, they’re both nocturnal, love eating junk food and watching South Park.
Anyway, back to bibimbap. I’ve been a bit obsessed with Korean food ever since Kimchee opened near my old office on New Oxford Street. Relatively new to Korean food, I was astonished at the vegetarian selection; delicious tofu salads, sushi rolls, steamed rice bowls with marinated tofu and pickled vegetables, err – yum! But then I moved away so had to take matters into my own hands. My favourite Korean dish is bibimbap, a mixed rice dish served with gochujang (a type of red chilli paste) with a mixture of steamed and pickled vegetables and topped with a fried egg. It’s delicious, so if you’re feeling frisky, give it a go.
Serves 2 / Takes 30 minutes + 1 hr for pickling (optional)
For the pickled carrots
150g carrots, peeled and then peeled into ribbons (I use baby rainbow carrots but you can use any carrots you like)
100ml of water
100ml of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
60g of granulated white sugar
Large pinch of salt
(It is not essential to pickle your carrots, you can leave them raw if you prefer)
120g basmati rice, I use Tilda wholegrain basmati with quinoa
100g mixed exotic mushrooms or mushrooms of your choice
4 handfuls of spinach
1 bulb of pak choy, sliced
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, chopped
Half a pack of smoked tofu, sliced
Black sesame seeds to serve (optional)
For the dressing:
2 tsp gochujang or Sriracha (gochujang is a fermented soybean chilli paste, it can be tricky to find though so Sriracha works just as well which is available in most supermarkets)
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs light soy sauce
half tsp sesame oil
Big pinch of sugar
1. Peel the carrots and then peel into ribbons and put to one side. If you’re not pickling your carrots you can ignore this next step.
2. In small saucepan, heat the sugar, water, rice vinegar and salt on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Put your carrot ribbons into an appropriately sized Tupperware or jar and pour over the pickling liquid. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour (although overnight is preferable). These will keep in the fridge for up to four days and will taste better and the longer you leave them.
3. In a medium sized saucepan pour boiling water over 120g of basmati rice. Bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile start cooking the mushrooms by frying them gently on a medium to low heat in a tsp of sesame oil and a tsp of soy sauce. Keep an eye on your mushrooms whilst you start cooking the greens in a separate pan. Add a little water if they start looking a little too hot. Once cooked you can turn the heat right down.
5. In a separate saucepan with a lid, sweat down 4 handfuls of spinach and pak choy in 1 tsp of sesame oil and 1 tsp of soy sauce until wilted. Once cooked, move the greens to one side of the pan and topple the mushrooms into the other. Turn off the heat under both pans and cover with a lid to keep warm.
6. Roughly chop the spring onions and slice the smoked tofu and put to one side as you make the dressing. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and put to one side.
7. By now your rice should be cooked, take off the heat and drain well with a sieve before returning back to the pan. Pop the lid on.
8. Fry your eggs in a bit of oil until cooked how you like them (I used my mushroom pan but feel free to use a fresh clean one if you prefer.)
9. Fork through your rice keeping it nice and loose and divide into two bowls. Spoon over a bit of dressing and top with the egg. Arrange the vegetables, tofu and pickles around the side and sprinkle the egg with sesame seeds and top with the remaining dressing and serve.
If you’ve had a go at making my bibimbap or any of my other recipes, I’d love to hear about it @corrieheale email@example.com