Bibimbap (// BEE-bim-bap, from Korean 비빔밥 [pi.bim.p͈ap̚], literally "mixed rice"), sometimes romanized as bi bim bap or bi bim bop, is a Korean rice dish. The term “bibim” means mixing various ingredients, while the “bap” noun refers to rice. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) or kimchi (traditional fermented vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating.
|Place of origin||Korea|
|Associated national cuisine||Korean cuisine|
|Variations||Dolsot-bibimbap, Jeonju-bibimbap, Jinju-bibimbap, Tongyeong-bibimbap|
(per 1 serving)
|150 kcal (628 kJ)|
In South Korea, Jeonju, Jinju, and Tongyeong are especially famous for their versions of bibimbap. In 2011, the dish was listed at number 40 on the World's 50 most delicious foods readers' poll compiled by CNN Travel.
The exact origin of bibimbap (비빔밥) is unknown. People could have started mixing bap (rice) with banchan (side dishes) after the outdoor jesa (rites), such as sansinje (rite for mountain gods) or dongsinje (rite for village gods), where they needed to "eat with the god" but did not have as many cooking pots and items of crockery to hand as they would normally have at home. Some scholars assert that bibimbap originates from the traditional practice of mixing all the food offerings made at an jesa (ancestral rite) in a bowl before partaking of it.
Ordinary people ate bibimbap on the eve of the lunar new year as the people at that time felt that they had to get rid of all of the leftover side dishes before the new year. The solution to this problem was to put all of the leftovers in a bowl of rice and to mix them together. Farmers ate bibimbap during farming season as it was the easiest way to make food for a large number of people. Bibimbap was served to the king, usually as a lunch or a between-meal snack. There was more than vegetables in this bibimbap.
Bibimbap was recorded as hondon-ban (混沌飯) in the history book Historical notes of Gijae by the Joseon scholar Bak Dong-ryang (1569–1635). In the Diary of Cheongdae by another Joseon scholar Gwon Sang-il (1679–1760), it was recorded as goldong-ban (骨董飯). The dish was also recorded in Complete Works of Seongho by Yi Ik (1681–1764) as goldong (骨董), in Complete Works of Cheongjanggwan by Yi deok-mu (1741–1793) as goldong-ban (汨董飯), and in Works of Nakhasaeng by Yi Hak-gyu (1770–1835) as both goldong-ban (骨董飯) and goldong (骨董).
The hangul transcription beubwieum (브뷔음) first appears in the 1810 encyclopaedia Mongyupyeon by Jang Hon. The 1870 encyclopaedia Myeongmul giryak states that the dish name is written as goldong-ban (骨董飯) in hanja but is read as bubaeban (捊排飯), a probable transcription of the native Korean bubim-bap (부빔밥).
In Collected Works of Oju written by Yi Gyu-gyeong (1788–1856), recorded varieties of bibimbap, such as vegetable bibimbap, miscellany bibimbap, hoe bibimbap, shad bibimbap, prawn bibimbap, salted shrimp bibimbap, shrimp roe bibimbap, marinated crab bibimbap, wild chive bibimbap, fresh cucumber bibimbap, gim flake bibimbap, gochujang bibimbap, soybean sprout bibimbap, and also stated that bibimbap was a local specialty of Pyongyang, along with naengmyeon and gamhongno.
In the late 20th century, bibimbap started to become widespread in different countries, due to its convenience of preparation. Many airlines connecting to South Korea began to serve it, and it was accepted more globally globe as a popular Korean dish. It has also been described as a symbol of migration by non-Koreans to Korea as Korea becomes a more multicultural country.
Vegetables commonly used in bibimbap include julienned oi (cucumber), aehobak (courgette), mu (radish), mushrooms, doraji (bellflower root), and gim, as well as spinach, soybean sprouts, and gosari (bracken fern stems). Dubu (tofu), either plain or sautéed, or a leaf of lettuce may be added, or chicken or seafood may be substituted for beef. For visual appeal, the vegetables are often placed so adjacent colors complement each other. In the South Korean version, sesame oil, red pepper paste (gochujang), and sesame seeds are added. The Bibimbap meal includes meat, rice, sesame oil, vegetables, as well as gochujang which are presented as a single dish and eaten with chopsticks and spoons. The meal provides unique nutrition and flavor fused with attractive colors due to its rich ingredients. Furthermore, the ingredients have low calorie content, hence offer a healthy diet. The combination of vegetables, rice, fermented sauces and meat provides adequate fiber, carbohydrates and protein content. By harmonizing together various ingredients, bibimbap emerges as a unique meal that symbolizes the harmony and balance in the Korean culture.
- Beef tartare bibimbap (yukhoe-bibimbap)
- Freshwater snail soybean paste bibimbap (ureong-doenjang-bibimbap)
- Hot stone pot bibimbap (dolsot-bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥)) is a variation of bibimbap served in a very hot dolsot (stone pot) in which a raw egg is cooked against the sides of the bowl. The bowl is so hot that anything that touches it sizzles for minutes. Before the rice is placed in the bowl, the bottom of the bowl is coated with sesame oil, making the layer of the rice touching the bowl cook to a crisp, golden brown (누릉지). This variation of bibimbap is typically served to order, with the egg and other ingredients mixed in the pot just prior to consumption.
- Jeonju-bibimbap, with rice cooked in beef broth instead of water
- Jinju-bibimbap, served with raw or cooked beef
- Raw fish bibimbap (hoe-deopbap)
- Roe bibimbap (albap)
- Spicy pork bibimbap (jeyuk-bibimbap)
- Sprout bibimbap (saessak-bibimbap)
- Tongyeong-bibimbap, served with seafood
- Wild vegetable bibimbap (sanchae-bibimbap)
- Wild herb bibimbap
- Brass bowl bibimbap
- Hoedeopbap (회덮밥) uses a variety of raw seafood, such as tilapia, salmon, tuna or sometimes octopus, but each bowl of rice usually contains only one variety of seafood. The term hoe in the word means raw fish. The dish is popular along the coasts of Korea where fish are abundant.
- The city of Jeonju (전주), the capital of the North Jeolla Province of South Korea, is famous throughout the nation for its version of bibimbap, said to be based on a royal court dish of the Joseon dynasty.
- Yakcho-bibimbap(약초비빔밥) is from Jecheon. Jecheon is a great place for medicinal herbs to grow. People could get a thicker root and more medicinal herb than other areas. The combination of the medicinal herbs and popular bibimbap made it one of the most popular foods in Jecheon.
Bibimbap ingredients are rich in symbolism. Black or dark colours represent North and the kidneys – for instance, shiitake mushrooms, bracken ferns or nori seaweed. Red or orange represents South and the heart, with chilli, carrots, and jujube dates. Green represents East and the liver, with cucumber and spinach. White is West or the lungs, with foods such as bean sprouts, radish, and rice. And finally yellow represents the centre, or stomach. Foods include pumpkin, potato or egg.
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