You might say that bibimbap is soul food in Seoul. It's so representative of Korean cuisine, it's served as an airline meal to people visiting South Korea. It literally translates to "mixed rice" and describes a bowl of hot rice topped with a variety of vegetables, seasoned with gochujang, a Korean chili paste. Ingredients are arranged to accentuate contrasting colors, and diners stir the contents together just before eating.

Bibimbap is open to interpretation -- you can expand or contract the number of toppings. It accommodates vegetarians and omnivores, and is a creative way to use odds and ends from the fridge.


Marinade and meat:

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

Pinch of ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons rice wine

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 pound beef flank or sirloin steak, cut into thin strips

2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided

2 cups medium-grain rice, uncooked

Vegetables and eggs:

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

2 cups spinach leaves, trimmed

1 medium zucchini, peeled and julienned

2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed and sorted

8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, julienned

1 tablespoon sesame oil

4 whole eggs

Optional garnish:

2 to 3 green onions, cut at an angle into 1-inch pieces

Red pepper sauce, such as Sriracha or chili paste.

To prepare marinade, combine all ingredients (except beef and vegetable oil) in a large bowl. Place beef in marinade mixture. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 8 hours.

Rinse rice. Cook according to package instructions. Keep warm.

Remove meat from marinade. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and saute until done, 4 to 5 minutes. Keep warm.

To prepare vegetables, combine sugar, salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Add carrots, spinach leaves, zucchini, bean sprouts and mushrooms, and toss to coat.

Heat sesame oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute vegetable mixture until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a medium, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggs and fry sunny-side up.

Divide cooked rice among 4 large deep bowls. Arrange vegetables on top. Add strips of beef and cover with fried egg. Garnish with green onion, if desired. Serve with red pepper sauce. Serves 4.

Recipe by Christina Eng.

Per serving: 455 calories, 11 g fat, 23 g protein, 67 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber,380 mg sodium.

Look for Relish magazine the first Thursday of each month in The Buffalo News.