Cooking up bibim bap

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

One of my favorite restaurants in D.C. is Mandu, a small Korean place on 18th Street. Their classic dish is dolsot bibim bap, a delicious combination of rice, stir-fry beef and traditional sauteed vegetables (bean sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, carrots) served in a hot stone bowl. Topped with a fried egg and spicy hot sauce, it’s damn near perfection.

On this summer’s trip through Botswana, my South Korean friend Sook brought along a container of gochujang, a traditional condiment. For several occasions, she broke out the hot sauce and we doused it on the meals cooked at our campsite. It was amazing.

Then, a couple weeks back, an international package arrived at my door. Sook had graciously sent along a box of sauces and rice, along with some pointers on how to make my favorite dish.


So, with Sook’s guidance, we pieced together our own relatively simple bibim bap recipe.

Ingredients (for two servings):
1 pound skirt steak
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 cups white rice
2 eggs
1 cup spinach
1 cup English cucumber
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup bean sprouts

Beef marinade:
Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 chopped garlic clove

Vegetable marinade:
Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoons sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper

Cucumber marinade:
Combine 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 chopped garlic clove

Cooking directions:

(1) Put steak in freezer for about an hour; remove and slice thinly, placing strips into a bowl, covering with marinade and refrigerating overnight
(2) Cook rice per instructions (or have Korean friend mail you authentic instant rice)
(3) Blanche been sprouts for thirty seconds and cool in ice water bath to stop cooking; do the same for spinach and carrots; lightly coat all three (separate bowls) with the vegetable marinade
(4) Thinly cut cucumber and cover in bowl with marinade
(5) Cook beef in large skillet with a tablespoon of oil on medium heat; fry until brown
(6) Fry egg in same skillet, sprinkle with dash of salt

Now it’s time for an important step: assembling the plate.


On top of rice, place beef, bean sprouts, spinach and carrots; the fried egg and a squirt of sambal oelek, the spicy Korean hot sauce, complete it.



This could give Mandu a run for its money.


  1. Last step: Lie on floor to combat fullness…

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