What the Heck is Bibim Bap?

Tired of the same old tired orange chicken and California rolls? Want to venture beyond the standard suburban-stale take-out? Here comes Chop PHX, with the Valley's rarer Asian offerings.

This Week: Bibim Bap from Hodori 1116 S. Dobson, Mesa.

Bibim Bap the Culinary Ambassador of Korea: We review a bunch of foods that are considered national dishes. It is rare though that we introduce a dish that is actively being promoted by the government of its country of origin. The government of South Korea believes so strongly in bibim bap that they have dispatched their cultural ambassadors, international K-Pop super group Super Junior, to share it with the world.

Not bad for a dish that started life -- and indeed lives on -- as something interesting to do with leftovers.

Bibim bap translates directly into "mixed meal." That's as much of a description of its ingredients as it is a description of how you eat it. Vegetables, fried egg, beef, rice and chili sauce are all mixed vigorously in a bowl at your table. Each bite of bibim bap brings the soft crunch of fresh vegetables, the warmth of fresh rice, the unctuous mouth-feel of egg yolk, and all held together by a glaze of chili sauce.

Hodori's bibim bap and a colder weather alternative, after the jump.

Hodori Explains:

Hodori manager Soohun Kim explains that its enduring popularity is simple: "It's easy to make."

Hodori's bibim bap starts with a bed of julienne zucchini, carrot, lettuce, shitake mushroom and radish. Thinly sliced rib-eye beef, marinated in a salty bulgogi sauce, share the center stage with a pan fried, slightly crisp egg. A large bottle of spicy but slightly sweet chili sauce is provided to give you control of the spice content.

Kim explains that the variations on the basic bibim bap recipe are endless. Hodori even serves one called nakji dol pan which is prepared with spicy octopus.

If you're looking for something on a cold evening that doesn't involve meat with more limbs than you, Kim suggests Hodori's dol pan bibim bap. Similar vegetables are used but the whole dish is served on a bed of sizzling rice in a stone pot, topped with kalbi marinated beef short ribs. The egg is served raw but the heat of the rice and the stone pot is more than enough to bake it into the inevitable mixture.

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