From Nonna's Kitchen: Halmonee Soon’s Bibimbap
The Perfect Day in South Korea...
As soon as I walked into Halmonee (Grandma in Korean) Soon Huh’s house, I was transported. It was 10:30 in the morning and she was impeccably dressed, standing in her kitchen stir-frying fiddlesticks with chopsticks. The smell was delicious and I knew today would be an incredible [Korean] education for me.
A quiet, calm woman, I was taken by her warm presence and spirituality. You can taste it in the precise, delicious food she prepares. Each ingredient, individually cooked. Not deterred by the extra pans and time it takes, Soon wants to ensure each ingredient maintains, not only its color but also its taste. This dedication and respect of each component of her Bibimbap is most definitely why, it was one of the most delicious dishes of food I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
When preparing this very famous Korean dish, I urge you to take the time to do as Soon does. The beef, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, all carry their distinct flavor, yet, when you are eating it, come together perfectly under a delicious sunny side up egg. The bed of rice provides a wonderful place for the runny yolk to rest, creating a creamy base for all the meat and vegetables.
Soon was raised in South Korea and told me wonderful stories of her childhood. As the youngest daughter, she credits becoming such a great cook to spending a lot of time in the kitchen with her mother. She learned to make authentic Korean food at home and even attended a cooking school while in college to learn how to make Western, Chinese and Japanese dishes.
She moved to the US in the 1970s with her husband and raised three children. She currently lives in New Jersey and loves spending time with her children and two beautiful grandchildren. We spent the day cooking a number of dishes and I could taste her love for cooking, and her family, in every bite.
Halmonee Soon’s Bibimbap
Prep time: Total time:
1 lb. beef tenderloin, thinly sliced and soaked in marinade(recipe follows)
3 oz. of dry platycodon, reconstituted to yield 1 lb. platycodon (can substitute cucumbers)
½ lb shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 package (14 oz) boiled royal fern
1 lb zucchini, thinly sliced, seeds removed, mixed with 1-2 tsp. salt, set aside for 30 minutes, then gently squeeze by hand to get rid of excess water
1 lb carrots, peeled, thinly sliced in matchsticks, lightly salted and drained
2 bunches Korean spinach or baby spinach
Eggs, sunny side up, 1 per person
Roasted, crushed sesame seeds
2 bunches Korean spinach, or baby spinach, rinsed and cut into small pieces
4 cups of uncooked rice (Bap)
1 cooked sunny side egg per bowl
- Each ingredient is prepared, cooked and then assembled into the final dish.
- Put sliced beef into medium-sized bowl for beef marinade. Add beef marinade ingredients, gently mix with meat, set aside in refrigerator to marinade for one hour or up to one day while preparing rest of ingredients
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. minced garlic
- Reconstitute 3 oz. dried platycodon by soaking for 2 hours, rinse, drain.
- Split into thinner pieces (matchstick length.)
- Rub 1 tbsp. salt into the platycodon for 10 minutes (to remove bitterness.)
- Rinse thoroughly, drain.
- Sauté prepped platycodon with 1-2 tsp of grapeseed oil and a pinch of salt for around 20 minutes until softened.
- Add roasted, crushed sesame seeds and mix. Set aside.
6 tbsp. Gochujang
1.5 tbsp. sesame oil
1.5 tbsp sugar
**Serve Gochujang sauce and sesame oil on the side for each person to mix**
Bap (cooked rice)
- Prepare 2 cups of short grain rice according to directions, either brown or white rice, and keep warm until ready to serve
Boiled Royal Fern – Fiddlesticks
- Sauté royal fern on low-medium heat with 1 tsp grapeseed oil, 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce, ½ tbsp sugar, 1 tsp chopped garlic, pinch of black pepper, for approximately 20 minutes. Set aside.
- In separate, smaller batches, place spinach in boiling water using a metal strainer for 30 seconds, then shock in ice water bath and squeeze out excess water. If you’re using baby spinach, dunk in boiling water for 5-10 seconds.
- Then lightly mix spinach by hand with the follow ingredients and set aside.
2 tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp roasted crushed sesame oil
¼ cup chopped scallion
¼ tsp of sugar
- Sauté with grapeseed oil (1-2 tsp), a little salt (1/4 tsp). Set aside.
- Sauté with grapeseed oil for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp Minced garlic
grapeseed to sauté
a pinch of roasted crushed sesame seed
cook at high heat to maintain crunch, set aside.
- Sauté until cooked, for 5-10 minutes, until no longer pink. Set aside.
- Scoop desired amount of rice into each individual bowl.
- Arrange ingredients on top of rice, rotating by color.
- Cook sunny side egg and place on top.
- Serve gochujang sauce on the side for each person to mix in desired amount with vegetables, rice.