A special WORLD VEGAN DAY post! – Bibimbap “Meguk-style”

First and foremost I want to wish you all a very happy World Vegan Day!

This is my first since I just turned vegan a few months ago, and it is great to see the growing number of vegans (such as myself) and the increasing knowledge of that for which vegans stand. What’s not to love about a healthy, cruelty-free diet, right? But I understand it’s a hard transition for some, for example I would never in a million years expect my parents to go vegetarian, let alone vegan (though Dad doesn’t like milk or eggs–so at least there’s that…I guess).

Another great thing about the proliferation of the vegan diet into the mainstream is the fact that within five minutes drive of the office there are TWO vegan friendly restaurants we can go to for lunch! Both are Asian-oriented, as so much vegan food is (which I love, by the way), and both introduced us to a Korean dish named bibimbap. According to wikipedia, it is:

[…] a signature Korean dish. The word literally means “mixed rice”. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot.

One of the two restaurants is a vegan buffet, which is amazing and offers a cold version. While this is delicious, I prefer the hot version served at the other restaurant that, while not vegan, offers vegan-friendly options in both type of bibimbap and sauces. My fiancee’s favorite is the Vietnamese peanut sauce; I’m torn between that and the Thai sweet chili lime sauce. Suffice it to say, they know us by name at both establishments.

Eventually I decided, hey, I can make this at home! Seems easy enough! I’ve made several variations and tried a few different sauces, but for our home bibimbap, which I call Meguk-style because Meguk is the Korean word for the United States, the peanut sauce seems to work best.

Some say that, in a bit of folk etymology, this is why soldiers during the Korean war began calling the Koreans ‘gooks’ (which has now, of course, become a bit of a racial slur)–when they saw the American soldiers they would run up yelling, “Meguk! Meguk!”–‘American! American!’ And of course we being the pompous people we are, we assumed they were speaking to us in English and identifying themselves as ‘gook.’ I don’t know if that’s the officially theory or anything, but it’s one I’ve heard. It’s fun to be open to new ideas, even if sometimes they lead you to discussing racial slurs on a vegan blog.

Such is life!

Anyway! So here is my vegan, Meguk-style bibimbap!

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First off, the peanut sauce. The recipe I more-or-less followed can be found at Fat Free Vegan.

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The veggies assembled! One yellow onion, one green bell pepper, one yellow squash, one broccoli crown, a handful of baby carrots, a third of a big head of red cabbage, three garlic cloves, one bunch of lacinato kale, and some baby spinach.

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The first veggies prepped for the wok and the garlic poised for pressing. I used a tiny bit of canola oil. Also not pictured, because it’s utterly boring, is the white rice I started as well. I just followed the package instructions on that, so I’d suggest you do the same. You can use other rices too–the place we go that serves it hot has a house rice that is jasmine rice cooked in sesame oil. Delicious!

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While all that cooked to soften the harder veggies, I prepped the second batch for the pan. I like staggering their addition so you don’t end up with either way undercooked onions and carrots or way overcooked other vegetables that take far less time.

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Everything so far getting all tasty and delicious. Poverty stove, woo!

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Keep on chopping! I let the other veggies cook for a few minutes before I started cutting these up because I didn’t want to end up cooking them down TOO much.

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Pan is getting full… Wilt kale, wilt!

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And on with the baby spinach!

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Bibimbap assembled, premix. Rice on bottom, followed by veggies topped with the peanut sauce.

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And all mixed up, ready for eating! Yum! Including cooking the rice it only takes twenty or so minutes too, so it’s a great way to get some delicious veggies and a great Asian flavor on a busy evening.

The variations are endless, you can mix in all sorts of different things. Corn, peas, mushrooms, chickpeas, and all sorts of yummy vegetables are available as mix-ins at the restaurants. Really you can throw in just about anything you like, even some grilled tofu maybe! I’ll have to show you guys that sometime soon too.

One last thing before I’m done. You should all check out the Virtual Vegan Potluck going on over at Vegan Bloggers Unite (and literally more than 100! other blogs spread out across the vast blogosphere). It is an amazing thing and I believe it will take me several days to digest–mentally and physically–the full awesomeness of the recipes offered up by these amazing and creative bloggers!

Anyway, enough from me! I’m not even supposed to be here today!

Happy World Vegan Day!

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