Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bibimbop and the Most Spectacular Red Miso Sauce

I've been on an Asian food kick lately. I've made some tasty vegetable sushi, miso soup, seaweed salads, and soba noodle bowls filled with colorful vegetables (I'll be sure to post recipes for those soon). I've been sipping Japanese green tea like it's been my job. And I've been literally using this red miso sauce on practically everything I've consumed all week. And when you make it, you will, too. You will go back to this sauce again and again for all your Asian sauce needs. When I tell you that  it's incredible, I mean it with all my heart. And I can honestly say that this meal is ranked as one of the top meals that I have ever made in my little kitchen. And you're lucky enough to get the recipe!
Bibimbop is a Korean word that means "all mixed up". So essentially, this dish is a combination of brown rice, cooked and raw vegetables, kimchee (a salty-spicy Korean pickled condiment that is out of this world), tofu, seaweed, sesame seeds, and the sauce all mixed up. This meal is incredibly healthy, full of delicious vitamin-rich greens and mineral-rich seaweed, among other things.

I can't conclude this post without mentioning something about miso. It's more than just the main ingredient in your soup at a sushi restaurant. Miso is a Japanese word that means "fermented beans". Miso is usually found in the form of a thick paste, and the beans used during fermentation are almost always soybeans. During the soybean fermentation process, grains like barley, rice, or buckwheat might be added to achieve a certain flavor or other desired attribute, but in most situations, soybeans serve as the basis for miso fermentation (Source). There are so many types of miso, ranging from mild-flavored mellow white miso (that's usually what your miso soup in a sushi restaurant is made of) to medium barley miso, to a rich tasting red or brown rice miso (like the miso used in this here sauce recipe). There is even a soy-free version made with chickpeas. Miso is an extraordinarily healthy food. It has numerous antioxidant, probiotic, and anti-cancer benefits. No wonder why the Japanese people (who consume loads of the stuff) live so long! It's a superfood! It's worth noting that I always buy organic miso paste because it's made of soybeans, which sadly are almost always genetically modified, and I refuse to eat GMO foods. So while I advocate for eating all organic and/or local food, I especially urge you to only consume organic soy products, and that includes miso. 

Bibimbop with Red Miso Sauce
(There are really no set amounts to this recipe. Basically, make lots of vegetables and if you have any leftovers, serve them with more rice for other meals throughout the rest of the week.)

The Rice:
1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water

Prepare short grain brown rice by combining one cup uncooked rice to two cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover 30-40 minutes until the rice is cooked and all water is absorbed. Set aside

The Vegetables and Toppings: (Use as much or as little as you want and season to taste. I used all of these vegetables and loved the combination, but feel free to add or omit anything)

-steamed broccoli florets
-blanched baby bok choy
-thinly sliced zucchini (I used a mandolin to make them super thin) lighlty sauteed in sesame oil, 1 tbs fresh garlic, and 1 tbs  fresh ginger, plus a pinch of sea salt
-shiitake mushrooms (de-stemmed and sliced) lightly cooked in sesame oil, 1 tbs garlic, and 1 tbs ginger, plus a pinch of sea salt
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned, then marinated in equal parts rice vinegar and maple syrup
 for 15 minutes
- organic tofu, cubed
-scallions, sliced thinly
-nori seaweed, cut into strips, for garnish
-sesame seeds, for garnish

Prepare all of the vegetables and put them on a large plate or platter, so that later, you can top your rice bowls with as many toppings as you like

The Sauce: (makes about 1 cup of sauce, enough for 2-3 bibimbop bowls)

1/2 cup organic red miso paste
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
toasted sesame oil to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

Combine the sauce ingredients in a blender or food process and blend until smooth.

Assembling the Bibimbop Bowls:
Spoon your desired amount of rice into your bowl. Top with as much sauce as you want. Add the vegetables, tofu, kimchee, and top with sesame seeds and scallion. Mix it all up and enjoy!

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