Parties taught me cooking

Anila Kurian, DH News Service, Feb 13 2018, 19:25 IST
Korean Bibimbap

I've always been obsessed with food but I never knew that I could cook till I started living on my own. When I was growing up, I loved watching my mother and grandmother cook and create delicious dishes. It was much later in life that I realised that I had a knack for cooking.

It all started when I was studying in the UK. I used to cook during house parties and my friends looked forward to my creations. When I got married, I used to cook for my wife. It wasn't just that I made something yummy, I also made an effort to present the dish in a particular manner. She was the one who encouraged me to start a blog and share my recipes.

I have my grandmother to thank for my cooking skills. Hailing from Kerala, I try to make the dishes my grandmother would fondly make for me and my cousins. I also like adding my own twist to traditional dishes and improvise it, if I'm in the mood.

I like experimenting with other cuisines as well. Many of my recipes for my blog 'The Take It Easy Chef' is inspired by my travels. My wife and I like trying new dishes and try making them at home.

The recipe of 'Bibimbap' was also developed during one of our travels. I was introduced to this dish during my visit to the US. My wife and I loved the flavours and it took me a couple of trials to perfect the recipe at home. I did a lot of research and read articles about it to know what was missing.

Bibimbap or bi bim bap means mixed rice. It consists of a variety of sauteed, seasoned veg and meat served on a bed of rice, topped with a fried egg, and accompanied by some hot chilli pepper sauce (gochujang).

The authentic Korean bibimbap recipes use beef bulgogi (a cooking technique where meat is marinated and cooked on a grill), but this recipe features chicken slices instead. You can use any vegetable that can be sautéed for this delicacy. Carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and spinach are the most popular ones.

It also includes an accompanying sauce made of gochujang (a fermented red chilli pepper paste). Since I couldn't get hold of any gochujang, I used a different red chilli paste. The result was still great!

My wife and I found love with this dish, maybe you can too this Valentine's Day!


Korean Bibimbap

For chicken bulgogi

Boneless chicken, 500 gm

Light soy sauce, 3 tbsp

Sesame oil, 1 tbsp

Pear, 1 medium (or a chunk of pineapple)

Garlic, 4 to 5 cloves

Ginger, 1 inch

Brown sugar, 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Ground pepper

For sauteeing

Vegetable oil, 3 tbsp

Sesame oil, 1 tbsp

Light soy sauce, 1 tbsp

Sesame seeds, 1/2 tbsp

Spinach, 200 gms

Carrots, 2 medium

Mushrooms, 200 gms

Garlic, 4 cloves

Salt to taste

Other ingredients

Cooked rice, 4 cups

Eggs, 4 one for each serving

For Bibimbap sauce

Red chilli pepper paste, 2 tbsp

Brown sugar, 1/2 tsp

Sesame oil, 1/2 tbsp

Crushed dry chillies, 1 tsp

Water, 2 tbsp


Clean and cut the chicken into small bitesize slices, and place in a mixing bowl.

Finely chop pear, ginger and garlic and add to the bowl.

Add one tablespoon sesame oil, three tablespoons soy sauce, one tablespoon brown sugar, salt, pepper and mix well to coat the chicken. Cover with a cling film, and marinate

in the refrigerator for an hour.

Wash the veggies. Finely slice the carrots and mushrooms.

Boil some water in a pot, toss the spinach leaves in, and cook them for a minute.

Take them out, drain off all the water.

Heat a skillet, add two tablespoons oil (any vegetable oil), one tablespoon sesame oil, and one tablespoon soy sauce. Mix well, and fry sesame seeds in this mix.

Scoop out 2/3 of this mix and keep it aside. We'll use this to cook our chicken.

Add the drained spinach to the skillet, add salt, and sauté for a minute. Remove the spinach, and keep it aside.

Now add mushrooms to the skillet, add salt, and cook on a medium flame.

Once it's cooked, transfer to a bowl.

Now stir fry the julienned carrots, and transfer to a bowl.

Take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator.

We'll cook this chicken in three batches. Add 1/3rd of the sesame oil mix that we had kept aside to the skillet. When the skillet is hot, add 1/3rd of the marinated chicken, and cook

on a high flame. Turn over occasionally, and cook for about 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to a bowl, and repeat the process twice for the remaining chicken.

The last step of cooking is to fry the eggs. Add some oil to the pan (if required), and fry the eggs.

Take care not to overcook the eggs. The yolk should be runny when cut - that is the consistency that we are looking for. Now we are ready to assemble the bibimbap.

In a serving bowl, add a cup of rice, and top it up with equal portions of chicken, spinach, mushrooms and carrots. Place a fried egg on the top.

Repeat this for all serving bowls. Mix all ingredients mentioned in the bibimbap sauce section, and serve as the accompanying sauce.

Arun Velekkat

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