Flowers, herbs splash flavor in new bibimbap blendsBibimbap is gaining more character these days as people are experimenting with ingredients, deviating from what’s considered the traditional Jeonju bibimbap style.
Now, there are variations of bibimbap with scents of spring greens savory enough to make your mouth water. New forms, such as herb and flower bibimbap, challenge the original recipe.
Although it appears on the menu as raw meat bibimbap, people in Hampyeong, a city in South Jeolla province, make a pork bibimbap with lumps of pork lard on the side. Diners scoops the lard on their bibimbap. There is no need to worry about gaining weight ― it only improves the taste. Special raw beef from cows raised in Hampyeong and fresh sesame seed oil are also mixed with bean sprouts, leeks and sliced zucchini. (5,000 won, 061-322-2764)
Tongyeong, a city in South Gyeongsang province, makes a seafood bibimbap mixed with soup boiled with short-necked clams, hard-shelled mussels and tofu. Seven or eight spring greens, fresh seaweed and spicy sweet pepper paste are the main ingredients. Ten different side dishes come with it as well as a pleasant breeze from the sea. (5,000 won, 055-642-1467)
Bongpyeong in Gangwon province is known as the background for Lee Hyo-seok’s short fiction story, “Buckwheat Flower Season.” But it also specializes in buckwheat sprout bibimbap. Instead of typical bibimbap ingredients, a restaurant named Migayeon uses purple potato, cucumber, wild greens and buckwheat sprouts as main ingredients. The bibimbap has bits of sweet and sour tastes mixed together with the unique scent of buckwheat sprouts. (6,000 won, 033-335-8805)
Herbs go well with bibimbap. Popular are basil and lemon verbena leaves, but various types of seasonal herbs can be used such as nastertium and fennel. Only small amounts are of herbs added because of their pungent scents.
For flower bibimbap, violet, daisy and chrysanthemum can be used. Organically grown flowers are becoming popular. Up to six flowers can be mixed together because their smell is less pungent. Flowers add a chewiness and are also visually appealing.
by Lee Hoon-beom, Namkoong Wook
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