Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Tofu Bibimbap

Well, its finally here - my first international trip of the summer begins tomorrow.  No, I'm not going anywhere near Asia, which is partially why I prepared Bibimbap for dinner.  

Now don't worry loyal followers, because I have two excellent posts scheduled to magically appear while I'm away for the next 13 days.  I'm going to try my best to write some fun content from the road as long as I can find access to good "wee fee" in those European one/two star hotels.  Barring any unruly behavior from my fellow travelers (my students) or any of the other potential European hold-up (flood, protest, mass strike, economic collapse, deathly heat wave, world war, student revolt, socialist uprising, art fair, Illuminati riff raff, auto de fé, etc., etc.) you'll be well taken care of.

So, a little about this Bibimbap.  Firstly, if you've never had a traditional Korean Bibimbap here's the story: rice bowl topped with little piles of spicy seared meat, various sautéed vegetables, and runny/raw egg all served up hot and stirred together moments before eating so the yolk coats everything and makes it delectable.  This version is vegetarian, for one, but also a little fresher and crisper for summer.  The vegetables are quickly pickled and served as cold accoutrements.  Finally, I used barley instead of rice, because I think the firmer texture complements the crisper vegetables.  

If you're looking for something spicy and hearty, but still healthy and fitting for a summer night, then here is the perfect meal for you.  Guten appetit/Buon appetito/En Guete/Bon appétit!

Ingredients (makes 2-3 servings):
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled barley
  • 1 package (14 oz.) extra firm tofu
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced and julienned 
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp. hot chili paste (like Sambal or Sriracha)
  • 3 tbsp. sweet chili paste (Thai-style)
  • 3 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp. hot or stone ground mustard
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 lime
  • 1-1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

Start by putting two medium pots of water on the stove top to boil - one for the barley and one for poaching your eggs a bit later.  While you wait for the water to boil, slice and dice your onions, cucumbers, and carrots.  When the water boils, add the barley to one pot to cook about 10 minutes to al dente. 
While the barley cooks and you prepare the other accoutrements, you'll want to allow your onions to pickle as much as possible.  Pickle the sliced onions in a bowl by submerging them in 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar, and 2 tbsp. sugar.  You can make a big batch of pickled onions in advance and eat them with every meal because they are so good.
Slice your brick of tofu into six even slabs and arrange on top of three layers of paper towel.  Place another three layers on top and press gently to absorb as much of the water as possible.  Allow to sit and further dry out while you prepare the marinade. 
In a medium bowl, combine the following ingredients for the hot chili tofu marinade/chili sauce: 4 tbsp. hot chili paste, 2 tbsp. sweet chili paste, 1 tbsp. ginger paste, 2 tbsp. mustard, and 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar.   When the tofu is as dry as possible, coat the slabs in all the marinade, but don't rinse out the bowl.  Tend to the stove by heating a grill or frying pan for the tofu on high heat, and draining your barley (cover and set it aside).
Waiting for your pan to heat the bowl from the marinade, add the julienned cucumber, 1 tbsp. of honey, 1 tbsp. ginger paste, juice of half a lime, and 1 cup rice wine vinegar.  Stir and allow to quickly pickle.
Sear each slab of tofu, about 4 minutes on each side (saving any remaining marinade in the bowl).  Meanwhile, you can quickly mix the carrots with 1 tbsp. ginger paste, 1 tbsp. sweet chili paste, and juice from half a lime. 
Finally, poach one egg for each serving of bibimbap.  For specific instructions on poaching, check out the Asian Eggs Benedict post.  A sunny-side-up method would work, as well.

Everything is ready to go - simply fill a bowl with barley and add a few slabs of tofu, a bit of the cucumber, carrots, and onion, and top with a poached egg.  Don't forget a bit of the extra chili marinade for a bit of kick.  Be sure to break the yolk and really mix everything together just before eating.


  1. There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of homemade bibimbap!

  2. Oh wow! This looks so amazing. And veggie for me too! I will be making it soon :)

  3. That looks really fresh and luvly! I like it also, how you did it with the pictures.