Monday, May 3, 2010

A story of comfort food: 비빔밥 Bibimbop

It is typical Korean soap opera scene: a girl in distress crying over the love which ended. She cries her eyes out, collapsing on the table, massing her hair up, as if the world has ended. Suddenly, she gets up and rushes into the kitchen (if she wasn't there already), opens rice cooker, takes out entire load of cooked rice into huge bowl. Then she runs to her refrigerator empties all Banchan (반찬, side-dishes) including kimchi into the bowl, puts generous spoonful of Korean chili paste and sesame oil, mixes with anger as if her looser boyfriend is in that bowl, and eats it like hungry wolf. No matter how dainty little lady she may look like, she is now she-wolf gulping down her enemy. After that she will go her favorite hair salon and get new hairdo.

This scene always puzzles me: how a single busy working women has so much banchan in her refrigerator!? What if she is like me, living alone in strange place, and found nothing (some times even no Kimchi) in the refrigerator!?!? It turned out, it wasn't only me who was baffled by it. I found one of famous blogger in Korea blogged about it and many agree that the full refrigerator is some sort of TV fantasy.

Bibmbop is quite handy food to make. Whenever I need to empty refrigerator or have nothing to cook (or have no intention of cooking), it is great food to make. As long as there is a bowl of steamed rice, an egg, Korean chili paste, and sesame oil I can make it.

Here is one example: Rice with dried Korean radish seasoned with say sauce and chili flake.

And just with steamed zucchini and egg plant.

And even simpler, with salad greens.

The possibilities, yes, are endless. However, I think these all shares miraculous power: give energy to go on.

Some time between the mixing and eating, I find new energy. As it fills my stomach I get stronger. Fiery chili paste burns but yet has sweet after taste to it, a gentle reminder of good world even though at first it seems hopeless and ruthless place. This 'tough love' gives enough 'guts' to face the hard world out there and comforts the troubled mind.


iTeenageAnorexia said...

One word. Sexy.

I love BiBimBap! <33
I hate the amount of vegetables that's normally mixed in there though D:

KJ said...

re TeenageAnorexia: I like more vegetables in it, though. :)

Megan said...

I also am a huge fan of bibimbap! probably my favorite dish ever, i could eat it every day i think. where do you buy your chili paste? there are very few asian markets where i live and very far away...i suppose i could oder online. Thanks!

KJ said...

Hello Megan,

You can buy it online. if you prefere mild,

and if you want it hot,then

Enjoy! ;)