Kid-friendly Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

Recipe: Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Romix Image/Shutterstock.com
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
37 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

Bibimbap (BEE-bim-bap)! It is fun to say and just sort of rolls off the tongue. My first taste of Bibimbap was one I'll never forget. I ate it at a Korean restaurant in the downtown Denver area. I was so utterly impressed when I found out from our wonderful, creative, adventurous neighbors, Scott and Emily, that Bibimbap is one of their go-to dinners for the family—the kind of dinner that you can throw together, everyone loves, and that you always have ingredients on hand for. When we made this at home, my kids topped their rice with a million veggies, then they mixed in the sauce, broke up the fried egg, and gleefully demolished their creation. Want to hear the best part? You can use the odds and ends in your refrigerator, so your leftover vegetables have a purpose.

In the Korean household, Bibimbap is a traditional way of using day-old rice and leftovers, serving it cold in the summer and hot in the winter. And the kids love to prepare this dish! Sticky Fingers Cooking has found that when kids are involved in the decisions and preparations of a recipe, they will eat it. It is not an exaggeration to say that banana milk is one of the most popular drinks in Korea. So we will make our own banana milk (see recipe) to round out our Korean feast. Have fun at home while you and your kids learn about the art of Korean food and fall in love with the wonderful flavors!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • cube :

    to cut into square-shaped, bite-sized pieces with an equal 1/3 to 1/2-inch length on all sides, slightly larger than diced.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • steam :

    to cook food by heating it in the steam from boiling water.

Equipment Checklist

  • Colander
  • Saucepan + matching lid
  • Nonstick skillet
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Medium bowl
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Grater
  • Wooden spoon
scale
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Ingredients

Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

  • 1 1/2 C short-grained white rice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onions stalks
  • 2 tsp grated, peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1/3 C grated fresh pear
  • 1/2 C soy sauce **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • 1 T honey/sugar/brown sugar
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar or lime juice (or white wine/apple cider vinegar) + more for sprinkling on veggies
  • 8 oz (1/2 lb) firm tofu
  • 3 T toasted sesame oil, divided **(for SESAME ALLERGY sub vegetable oil)**
  • 4 to 6 eggs **(Omit for EGG ALLERGY)**
  • Suggested Bibimbap Toppings—don’t be overwhelmed! You can choose a few toppings you like while considering balance in taste, texture, and color:
  • nori (dried seaweed sheets) **(Omit for SHELLFISH ALLERGY)**
  • water chestnuts
  • edamame beans
  • corn
  • sesame seeds **(Omit for SESAME ALLERGY)**
  • cucumber
  • green onions
  • apple
  • lettuce, spinach, or sautéed kale
  • snap peas
  • radish
  • cooked sweet potato
  • cooked eggplant
  • avocado
  • bean sprouts
  • carrot
  • bell pepper
  • sautéed zucchini
  • sautéed cabbage
  • sautéed asparagus
  • sautéed green beans
  • sautéed mushrooms

Food Allergen Substitutions

Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.
  • Soy: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.
  • Sesame: Substitute vegetable oil for sesame oil. Omit sesame seeds for optional topping.
  • Egg: Omit eggs.
  • Shellfish: Omit the nori seaweed for optional topping.

Instructions

Kid-Made Korean Bibimbap Masterpiece

1.
intro

We're making "Bibimbap" (BEE-bim-bap), a Korean dish of rice, fruit, and vegetables.

2.
rinse + drain + steam

Rinse 1 1/2 cups of rice in water until the water runs clear. Then drain well in a colander. Place the rinsed, drained rice in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and add 3 cups of water. Over medium heat, cover and bring the water to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, remove the lid, and place a clean towel over the pot.

3.
chop + grate + whisk

Now it's time to make the tofu bulgogi (bool-GOH-gee) sauce! Chop up 2 garlic cloves and 2 green onions and add to a medium bowl. Grate 2 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger root and 1/3 cup pear and add them to the bowl. Then whisk in 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, and 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or lime juice.

4.
cube + toss

Cube 8 ounces of tofu and add to the bowl with the sauce. Toss gently to coat and cover, letting it rest for 10 minutes or up to 3 hours.

5.
sauté + thicken

Pour the tofu and sauce from the bowl into a nonstick skillet on your stovetop and cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 10 to 20 minutes until the sauce gets a bit thick. Put the sauce in a bowl and let it cool to the side.

6.
wipe + crisp

Quickly wipe out your skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add your precooked rice and pat it out in an even layer with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook, do not stir, until rice is golden and crisp on the bottom, about 5 to 15 minutes. (Wipe out the skillet again to fry the eggs or use another skillet.)

7.
slice + chop + grate

Meanwhile, choose at least 5 of the veggie toppings in the Ingredients list and prepare by slicing, chopping, and grating into matchstick-size pieces. (It's best to have at least five different color toppings on the rice for nutrition and aesthetics.) Sprinkle veggies with a bit of lime juice and set to the side.

8.
fry + top + create

Fry up 4 to 6 eggs in your nonstick skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Then top the rice with the tofu bulgogi sauce, the prepared veggie toppings, and the fried eggs. For visual appeal, place the veggies so that adjacent colors complement each other. Create and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Rice!

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Photo by Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I’m Rice!

"I'm just a little grass seed but loved the world over! I'm Rice! I'm an essential part of the diets of almost every culture! You may have eaten me with Mexican tacos, Korean bibimbap, Indian curries, Mongolian fried rice, Southern Creole gumbo, Filipino adobo, Hawaiian poke, or Japanese sushi, just to name a few!"

History & Etymology

  • Rice is a grain or grass, like wheat, millet, or barley. It was first cultivated in China somewhere between 6,000 and 9,000 years ago.
  • Rice is a seed from a grass species, usually Oryza sativa or Asian rice. The other domesticated rice species is Oryza glaberrima or African rice. African rice has been grown for 3,000 years and is hardier, more pest-resistant, and nuttier tasting rice than Asian rice. 
  • Rice is a staple food and supplies as much as half of the daily calories for half the world's population. In many countries, they eat rice at every meal. No wonder a few Asian countries value rice so highly that some of their translations of the word "eat" or "meal" also mean "rice."
  • China consumes the most rice worldwide. Annually, Asians eat over 300 pounds of rice per person, and Americans eat about 26 pounds per person.
  • Rice is the second-highest worldwide crop produced after maize (corn). However, since maize is mainly grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is the most important grain for human consumption. 
  • The English word "rice" comes from Middle English which comes from the Old French "ris," from the Italian "riso," and finally, from the Greek "oruza."

Anatomy

  • Most types of rice are annual plants, meaning they live only one year. But several types of rice can survive and produce grains for up to 30 years. 
  • Rice is often categorized by its size—either short, medium, or long grain. Short grain, or japonica rice, has the highest starch content and makes the stickiest rice, while the long grain, or indica variety, is lighter and tends to remain separate when cooked. 
  • In addition to japonica and indica, there are two other categories: aromatic and glutinous. Aromatic is a medium to long-grained rice that generally results in a light and fluffy texture. Varieties in this category include Basmati and Jasmine, which you can find in grocery stores (more about these below). Glutinous rice (also called sticky, sweet, or waxy rice) has very low amylose (starch component) content, making it very sticky when cooked. 
  • Rice is also classified by its milling process. White rice has been milled the most, having had its hull (or husk), bran, and germ layers removed. Brown or whole grain rice has been milled to remove its hull, and rough or paddy rice has not been milled at all and cannot be consumed.
  • There is an abundance of different kinds of rice—globally, over 120,000 varieties. 
  • Rice cultivation is suited for countries with low labor costs and high rainfall as it is very labor-intensive and needs large amounts of water to grow. 

How to Pick, Buy & Eat

  • Brown rice is 100 percent whole grain and, therefore, the most nutritional of the many different forms. Brown rice retains the bran and germ because it is not milled as much as white rice, which loses a lot of nutrients in the milling process. However, brown rice takes longer to cook, about 45 minutes, compared to white rice, which takes 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Aromatic rices, named because they have distinct flavors and aromas (especially while cooking), include Basmati and Jasmine. Basmati is long-grained rice from India. It contains a compound also present in freshly baked bread and pandan spice and has nutty, spicy, and floral flavors. Jasmine rice is long-grained rice from Thailand and Cambodia. It also has the same compound found in Basmati rice and is similar but perhaps adds more of a grassy floral and slightly sweeter fragrance to a meal. Some people describe its flavor as close to popcorn. Jasmine is also stickier. 
  • Arborio is short-grained rice from Italy. Its grains remain firm when cooked and are chewy and creamy. Arborio rice is often used in making risotto and rice pudding because of its creamy texture and starchy taste that goes well with other flavors.
  • Rice is truly an international food, found in the cuisines of just about every country. It is often served as a side dish but can also be a vital component of main dishes and desserts.
  • Rice flour is made from finely ground rice. It is a thickening agent that prevents liquids from separating in refrigerated and frozen foods. Rice noodles used in many Asian dishes are made with rice flour, and you can also find it in desserts, like "mochi" and other rice cakes. It is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour.

Nutrition

  • Rice is a complex carbohydrate with very little sodium or fat, and it supplies 20 percent of the world's food energy.
  • Rice contains several B vitamins and manganese. Brown or whole grain rice is more nutritious than white rice, but white rice is often enriched by adding some B vitamins and iron back in. Brown rice is also high in magnesium, phosphorus, protein, and fiber.

 

History of Bibimbap!

Photo by mnimage/Shutterstock.com
  • Bibimbap is pronounced "BEE-bim-bap" and translates to "mixed rice."
  • There are a variety of legends regarding the origins of this Korean dish. One is that farmers, who were poor and worked very hard, would eat rice with different vegetables that could quickly be mixed in a large bowl for communal feeding. Another story says that after ancestor ceremonies, which required the preparation of fruits, vegetables, rice cakes, fish, and other foods to express their "thanks" to their ancestors, the people would combine leftovers from that labor-intensive meal to create simple meals. Finally, there is the theory that there was no time for food preparation during uprisings and battles, so they mixed rice with whatever foods were handy to create a meal.  
  • Koreans still eat bibimbap as part of the "jesa" ceremony. Families prepare a spread of dishes to offer to their ancestors and then sit down to share the meal. Afterward, there are leftover small dishes, and bibimbap becomes like a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, a way to use leftovers and extend the celebration.  
  • The dish contains rice at the bottom of a bowl, and you can top it with "namul," seasoned and sautéed vegetables, or "kimchi," fermented vegetables. Then a sweet-spicy red pepper paste, soy sauce, or a fermented soybean paste comes next. Finally, add a fried egg and strips of dried seaweed (nori). The vegetables change according to the season and may include radish, cucumber, bean sprouts, seasonal greens, and mushrooms.
  • You can also make bibimbap with different proteins depending on where the dish is eaten within the country. For example, seafood is a common addition in coastal areas.
  • Bibimbap ingredients are rich in Korean symbolism, based on Chinese philosophy. For black or dark colors representing the kidneys, use shiitake mushrooms, bracken ferns, nori seaweed, or soy sauce. For red or orange representing the heart, use chili, carrots, jujube dates, or gochujang red pepper paste. Green stands for the liver, and you would use cucumber and spinach. For white, symbolic of the lungs, use bean sprouts, radish, and rice. And finally, yellow represents the stomach, and you can use foods like potato or egg.

Let's Learn About South Korea!

Photo by JEONGHYEON NOH/Shutterstock.com
  • South Korea is officially named the Republic of Korea. It is a separate country from North Korea. This is because North and South Korea were divided into two countries during the Korean War in the 1950s. 
  • South Korea has a day dedicated to celebrating their children: May 5th. A children's book author started it because he wanted Korean children to have a sense of independence and national pride. It was designated a national holiday in 1975. On this day, cities and towns celebrate with parades, and children receive free admission to many movies, zoos, and theme parks. 
  • Literacy is high—98 percent of Korean adults can read! The alphabet of the Korean language is called Hangul. King Sejong the Great created it in 1443 to increase literacy. Korea's previous alphabet was Hanja or Han Chinese Characters. Today, Hangul is considered one of the most efficient alphabets in the world.  
  • Seoul, the capital city, has a population of about 10 million, densely packed into a small area. Many people live in high-rise apartments.
  • Koreans have two New Year's Days. In addition to January 1st, Koreans also celebrate the Lunar New Year in February.
  • The Korean martial art taekwondo is the national sport. Unsurprisingly, Koreans have won the most Olympic gold medals in taekwondo.
  • Korean babies are considered one year old on the day they are born, then add another year on New Year's Day. Historically, Koreans have not celebrated their birthdays on the day they were born; instead, they celebrate turning one year older collectively on New Year's Day. 
  • Parents hold a party on a baby's first birthday and place several objects on a table to let the child pick their favorite. Whatever the child chooses is believed to predict their future or a dominant personality trait. For example, if the child picks up a book, they are destined to be smart; if the child picks up money, they will be wealthy; if the child picks up food, they will not be hungry; and if the child picks up the thread, they will live a long life.
  • Koreans are very in tune with their bodies, eat the right amount of food, and focus on nutrition. The temperature of their food matters to them. Koreans follow Eastern Asian medicine principles: on the hottest days of the summer, it's traditional to eat boiling chicken ginseng soup! The rationale behind it? There shouldn't be a sharp contrast between a person's body temperature and one's food—or else, your stomach will get upset.
  • Kimchi, the nation's favorite dish eaten at almost every meal, is made by fermenting vegetables, fruit, and even oysters. It is said to help prevent the flu. Kimchi becomes more sour and potent the longer it sits. There are 250 different kinds of kimchi! 
  • During autumn, Korean families come together to make enough kimchi to last several months, sharing with neighbors, friends, and family. This holiday is called Kimjang. 
  • Korean adults eat seaweed soup on their birthdays for good luck, long life, and to honor their mothers. Women who have just given birth also have the soup as it is rich in minerals and nutrients. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in South Korea?

  • South Koreans treasure children, and family is very important. They teach kids to respect parents and elders. It is a custom for kids and adults to take their shoes off when they enter the home.
  • Many parents have high expectations for their kids' education. Middle and high school kids have long days at school that last from 8 am until 5 pm, and then they may have extra school, tutoring, and homework until 10 pm or later.
  • Computer games are extremely popular with South Korean kids. However, they may also play some traditional games. One game is "gonggi" (KON-chee). It is similar to "jacks" but played with small genuine or plastic stones. One of the tricks is to land the stone on the back of your hand after picking it up and throwing it in the air. Another game is "jegichagi," played alone or with other players by kicking a paper "jegi" (like a badminton shuttlecock) in the air and trying to keep it aloft.
  • Some of the sports kids participate in are football (soccer), baseball, golf, skiing, ice skating, and taekwondo, a martial art. In addition, they like music, especially K-pop music (Korean pop).
  • Children learn "nunchi" (noon-chee) by three years old. The literal translation is "eye-measure" and could also be called emotional intelligence. Kids learn to be aware of their environment, observe people and situations, quickly discern another person's mood, read a situation correctly, and respond accordingly. Nunchi helps a person navigate their world in a caring and intelligent way throughout their life. 
  • Kids have rice with just about every meal. They will eat it with eggs, fish, or another protein for breakfast. They may have "ramyeon," which is like "ramen," a Japanese noodle soup, or more rice and protein for lunch. Desserts made with sweet rice or red beans are popular. For example, kids may have "bingsu," shaved ice often topped with sweet red beans and sweetened condensed milk, or "bungeo-ppang," a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweetened red bean paste, pastry cream, or chocolate and cooked like a waffle.

That's Berry Funny

What did one rice say to the other rice? 

"I hope I see you a-grain!"

THYME for a Laugh

What did the Bibimbap say to the chef? 

"Rice to meet you!"

The Yolk's On You

Did you hear the tall tale about rice? 

There wasn’t a grain of truth behind it!

That's Berry Funny

What did the bulgogi sauce say to the tofu? 

"I’m soy into you!"

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