Bibimbap. What’s that? Is it a song, is it a brand, is it a person? Actually, it’s a type of Korean dish eaten almost once a week in South Korea.
Imagine this. A black, scorching stone pot with vines of steam soaring up from the bottom. The rice underneath slowly hardens, and the grains gradually become brown while the upper half is topped with all colors of the rainbow starting from green, brown, and orange. These colors come from the handfuls of vegetables that are place on top such as spinach, mushrooms, and carrots. But that is not all. Then comes the part most people look forward to, the meat. Tender strips of pork marinated in that secret sauce, which is called bulgogi, creates the perfect taste.
The body is finished, but the top is still missing in order to finish off the dish. Down comes the thick, red, spicy chili paste into a perfect spiral around the bowl. It slowly mushes in with the vegetables and meat, adding a hint of sugar and spice. Then plop, comes down the egg yolk, smack dab in the middle of the pot, like a cherry on an ice cream sundae. A pinch of sesame seeds are sprinkled on top, and that is the final touch. It is time to experience the roller coaster of flavors.
The gleaming metal spoon first dives inside to the hard, rock bottom and instantly there is a loud hiss of all the ingredients mixing together. A sudden burst of steam shoots out, fogging one’s glasses. The toppings are brought together by the spicy red chili paste and the vegetables and meat dance together to create a bursting party of flavors starting from sweet to salty. The egg yolk slides down the strings of vegetables and into the rice, mixing in with the party and is soon, nowhere to be found.
Every piece of meat and vegetable has a sample of the chili paste and is now ready to be served. Vegetable strands tucked inside the meat on top of rice smeared red, that is the first spoon.
A firework show of sweet, spicy, and savory explodes inside the mouth. Down to the bottom of the bowl, the white rice is now hardened brown, creating a light cracker to finish off the meal. The bowl is soon scraped clean, with some hardened grains stuck on the bottom.
And that, is bibimbap.