Monday, March 22, 2010

Bee-bim Bop! - Bee-bim Bop ("mixed rice")

"Hurry, Mama, hurry gotta chop chop chop! Hungry--very hungry for some BEE-BIM BOP!" - Bee-Bim Bop!, Linda Sue Park

After last week's cookie interlude I decided to focus on another complete meal for this week's recipe. This week I made bee-bim bop, as featured in Linda Sue Park's  Bee-bim Bop! (Although Bee-bim Bop! is a picture book, Linda Sue Park is best known for her novels, including the 2002 Newbery Medal winner
A Single Shard.)

Bee-bim bop--rice topped with vegetables and meat--is a Korean meal that, literally translated, means "mixed rice" or "mix mix rice." It is one of my favorite types of easy meals because it combines protein, veggies and carbs all in one dish (other meals I include in this category are stuffed baked potatoes, fried rice and Chipotle burrito bowls). It is also a very kid-friendly meal, in that there are many ways for tiny chefs to participate in its preparation.

In Park's book, the narrator--a little girl who appears to be about three or four years old--describes (in rhymed verse) the shopping for and preparation of the bee-bim bop. Her enthusiasm is evident in both the cadence of the rhyme and in Ho Baek Lee's illustrations. At the end, the entire multi-generational family sits down together to enjoy their meal. It's a book that celebrates the importance of cooking and eating together. At the end the author includes a recipe for her family's version of bee-bim bop. The especially nice thing about the included recipe is that it indicates which parts are suitable for children to help with and which parts should be prepared by adults.

Bee-bim Bop (courtesy of Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park)

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce (I use San-J wheat-free tamari--it is a staple in my gluten-free kitchen)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds (optional--I had a hard time finding them so we did without)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper)
  • 1 pound of tender, lean beef
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 packages frozen spinach (defrosted) OR 1 pound fresh spinach (washed)
  • 1 pound mung bean sprouts
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or pot.

2. While the rice is cooking, mix the garlic and chop the green onions. Mix together in a bowl with the soy sauce, sugar, vegetable oil, sesame seeds and pepper. This is the marinade for the meat.

3. Slice the beef into very thin slices. Place in a bowl with marinade. (The exact instructions in the book read: "...stick your hands into the bowl, grab handfuls of beef, and squish it all around for 2-3 minutes. This makes it nice and tender.")

4. Break the eggs into a measuring cup and whisk together. Heat a nonstick frying pan. Pour about 1/4 of the egg into the pan and let the egg spread out into a thin layer. Cook for one minute on each side. Repeat until all the egg has been used. Cut the cooled "egg pancakes" into thin strips.

5. Wash and peel (we didn't peel, we just left the skins on) the carrots and cut into small sticks. Stir-fry over high heat until tender.

6. Stir-fry the spinach until tender, season with salt and pepper.

7. In a hot pan (I used my iron skillet) stir-fry the beef (in its marinade) until cooked through.

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!

[Full Disclosure: My kids did not assist with the preparation of this meal. We spent a lot of time talking about it and they were looking forward to making it but, after a day of shopping and helping my husband in the garden, they decided they wanted to play Wii instead. It was a school night and I wanted to eat before 7:00 p.m. so I didn't force the issue.]

Although they didn't help with the meal prep, the boys did enjoy this meal. We all liked it and it will probably find a way into my regular meal rotation.


Mary Ann Dames, M.S., R.D. said...

Hi Katie: Love the boucniness of the book text your shared. I can hardly wait to read it. As for toasted sesame seeds, I make my own since they can go rancid so easily. Simple to do (for an adult). Over medium heat, preheat a non-stick skillet. Pour a bit more raw sesame seeds than you'll need. (Some always seem to stick to the pan or bounce out.) At this point, I usually lower the heat since my stove runs hot. Shake the skillet occasionnally, untl the sesame seeds start to darken. Immediately remove from the heat and from the pan since the residual heat will keep the toasting process going and the seeds will get too dark very quickly. I'd say the whole process is 2 or 3 minutes but I've never timed it. I pour the seeds onto parchment paper to cool. The flexiblity of the paper also makes it easier to pour the seeds into a container.

For a stir fry, I add the raw seeds directly to the veggie mix as that cooks the sesame seeds susfficiently to take out the raw taste.

I hope this helps.

Katie Fries said...

Thank you, Mary Ann! I guess I should clarify, for those attempting the recipe, that it wasn't that I couldn't find *toasted* sesame seeds in the stores I shop at; I couldn't find sesame seeds at all. In the past I have purchased them at Whole Foods and even Target; it just wasn't my week for finding sesame seeds, apparently.