Rice with Mountain Vegetables and Spicy Sauce

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Koreans often top this rice dish with a fried egg, sunny-side up, and mix it in quickly to spread the hot yolk throughout. With or without the egg, use a big spoon to mix the rice and vegetables together, adding additional red pepper paste to taste. Mountain vegetables such as bellflower and fernbracken—touted in Korea for their health benefits—are available at Korean supermarkets, but they require lengthy cooking to remove bitterness. If mountain vegetables are not available, select such versatile ingredients as yellow summer squash and oyster mushrooms instead. Red pepper paste, or kochujang, is a staple of Korean food, and its characteristic hot and sweet flavor can be detected in many dishes. Look for this pepper paste at most pan-Asian and Korean markets.

  • ServingServings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Korean or Japanese short-grain rice, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 5 ½ Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 cup dried bellflower or 2 cups thinly sliced oyster mushrooms
  • 3 ½ tsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. red pepper powder or paprika
  • 2 cups dried fernbracken or 2 yellow summer squash, sliced into
  • 2-inch-long matchsticks
  • 5 ½ Tbs. plus 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 6 ½ Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. sesame salt or table salt
  • 1 Tbs. scallion strips, about ½ scallion
  • 6 dried pyogo or shiitake mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. cooking wine
  • 1 carrot, quartered and sliced into 2-inch-long matchsticks
  • ½ medium-sized onion, sliced into 2-inch-long matchsticks
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seededand sliced into 2-inch-long matchsticks
  • 2 cups (about ¼ lb.) bean sprouts, rinsed
  • 1 bunch (½ lb.) spinach, rinsed, trimmed and blanched
  • ½ Korean pear or crisp, tart apple, sliced into 2-inch-long matchsticks
  • 6 tsp. red pepper paste, or more to taste
  • 6 fried eggs
  • 1 sheet laver (seaweed), cut into1-inch-long x ¼-inch-wide strips

Preparation

1. Bring 4 to 4¼ cups water to a boil in large saucepan over medium heat, and stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat, add 2 tablespoons sesame oil and mix thoroughly. Keep rice covered until ready to serve.

2. Place bellflower in saucepan with water to cover, and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Discard water, and repeat process. Place bellflower in saucepan with lightly salted water to cover, and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until bitterness is gone and bellflower is easy to slice. Remove from heat, drain and cut each root into strips.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry bellflower with ½ teaspoon chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon red pepper powder. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, and cover. Cook about 10 minutes, or until tender, remove from heat and stir in ¼ teaspoon sesame oil. Set aside. Alternatively, heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry oyster mushrooms with ½ teaspoon chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon red pepper powder. Cook about 5 minutes, or until tender, remove from heat and stir in ¼ teaspoon sesame oil. Set aside.

4. Place fernbracken in saucepan with water to cover, and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat. Discard water, and repeat process. Remove from heat, drain and cut fernbracken into 2-inch-long pieces. Place pieces in bowl, and season with 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, ½ tablespoon vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon red pepper powder. Alternatively, place summer squash matchsticks in bowl, and season with 4 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, ½ tablespoon cooking oil, and ½ teaspoon red pepper powder. Set aside.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry fernbracken, adding water to cover and cooking 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, drain and mix with 1 tablespoon sesame salt, 1 tablespoon scallion strips and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Set aside. Alternatively, heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry summer squash matchsticks 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent. Remove from heat, drain and mix with 1 tablespoon sesame salt, 1 tablespoon scallion strips and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Set aside.

6. Stem mushrooms, and slice thinly. Place in saucepan with mushroom soaking water. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cooking wine, and cook over medium heat 10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.

7. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry carrots, adding ½ teaspoon salt and a few teaspoons water to prevent burning. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

8. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry onion, adding ½ teaspoon salt and a few teaspoons water to prevent burning. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

9. Sprinkle cucumber with ½ tablespoon salt, and let stand. When limp, squeeze hard. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry cucumber about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and set aside.

10. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet or large wok, and stir-fry bean sprouts with ½ teaspoon garlic. Add salt and sprinkle of water, cover and cook until bean sprouts are softened, about 3 minutes. Season with 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon red pepper powder.

11. Squeeze out water from spinach, and mix with ½ tablespoon sesame oil and ½ tablespoon soy sauce.

12. To serve, fill bottom of individual shallow bowl with rice. Alternate vegetables and pear side by side on rice like rays of sun, placing 1 teaspoon red pepper paste in center. Place egg near red pepper paste. Sprinkle slivers of layer on top, and serve. Repeat process with remaining ingredients until all used up.

Wine Suggestions

This rice dish is really a workingperson's dish. Cool down with a bowl of bibimbap and a frosty mug full of Olde Heurich's German-Style Maerzen beer called Foggy Bottom Lager.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: Serves 10 to 12
  • Calories: 440
  • Carbohydrate Content: 50 g
  • Cholesterol Content: 210 mg
  • Fat Content: 21 g
  • Fiber Content: 4 g
  • Protein Content: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat Content: 3 g
  • Sodium Content: 1860 mg
  • Sugar Content: 6 g