Cold weather has returned, and with it my craving for Dolsot Bibimbap.
Most people I know have never partaken of Korean food. Chinese, Japanese and Thai, yes. But not Korean.
My family was stationed in South Korea when I was in college, so I had my first taste of the country’s cuisine way back then — and have eaten it occasionally since, often with family members or other fellow adventurous foodies.
Many dishes are delicious, but Dolsot Bibimbap is always my winter Korean obsession. I ate it for the first time this season a couple of weeks ago at Raleigh’s Seoul Garden, and I anticipate another batch in my near future …
Bibimbap is essentially a rice bowl with many variations. It always contains diced or sliced veggies, often an egg and usually a choice of another protein (beef, seafood, tofu).
If you venture to a Korean restaurant and see the word “Dolsot,” go for that one — it means that the ingredients are artfully arranged and delivered to the table in a large stone bowl that’s sizzling hot from the oven. Let it sit for a minute so the rice against the bottom and sides of the bowl gets nice and crusty-crunchy, then adorn with chili pepper paste (usually presented in a squeeze bottle and only mildly spicy) over the top and stir it all up, so that the raw egg spreads throughout and is cooked by the extreme heat.
Don’t be surprised if the bowl is still hot even after the bibimbap has all been devoured.
Or most of it, anyway. I’ve never had an order of this dish that’s less than h-u-g-e. And it’s served — as are many Korean entrees — with lots of small little side dishes called banchan. Most seem to be vegetables — some are recognizable, and others are not. Kimchi is always among them.
My mouth is watering just writing about it. Anybody want to join me for a bowl soon?