Walk into a Korean home and you’re just as likely to find bibimbap on their table as you are to find rice and curry at one of ours. At home, Koreans tend to play around with the versatile bibimbap, which translates to ‘ mixed rice’, and often use side dishes left over from previous meals as toppings over the sticky rice. But the Korean classic isn’t restricted to the country. It is such a global favourite that even the very- American Martha Stewart has a recipe for a veggie version of it on her website.
“The first time I ever tried bibimbap was at a Korean restaurant in New York City about a decade ago,” recalls Umame’s Chef Farrokh Khambata. You may have sampled the dish in Mumbai before too, perhaps at Trident’s India Jones, Nikhil Chib’s popular Busaba, or at ITC Maratha’s Pan Asian. But as Khambata points out, surprisingly no one had introduced the more ostentatious Dolsot Bibimbap to their menus.
Kicked off early last week, Umame’s Dolsot Bibimbap Festival received such a wonderful response that Khambata plans to introduce the dish on his menu permanently. “This version requires the bibimbap to be served in a sizzling hot stone bowl,” he explains. The bowl is so hot that the rice at the bottom of the bowl browns beautifully and gets a wonderfully crispy texture.
While the regular bibimbap is topped with a cooked egg, in this case a raw egg is served, which is to be quickly stirred in with the rest of the veggies and rice. “ When the egg touches the sides of the sizzling bowl, it cooks through,” reveals Khambata.
“What really brings the bibimbap together is the slightly fermented pungent and spicy chilli paste called Gochujang. The flavour is something that Indians will really relate to,” adds the chef, who is serving several varieties of meats with the bibimbap including yellowfin tuna, shrimp, beef and chicken. “ We’ve also got several veggie options. There’s one with four different mushrooms — shitake, shimiji, button and oyster. Another with kimchi and corn, asparagus and zucchini and one only with greens — pakchoy, spinach and broccoli,” says Khambata.