If you’ve never tried Korean food then you’re missing out big time. While kimchi may not be everyone’s dish-of-fermented-cabbage there’s oh so much more to try and among my favourite dishes is Bibimbap – literally meaning “mixed rice”. It just so happens that bibimbap originates from Jeonju so while I was there I tried the original…
Bibimbap (비빔밥) is typically served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables (나물 – namul), sliced meat (usually beef) and mixed together with chilli pepper paste (고추장 – gochujang) and egg. Just looking at this picture again is making my mouth water – if this doesn’t look good to you then there’s something seriously wrong!
When ordered in a restaurant it usually comes with a variety of side dishes, most of which are also vegetable based so makes for a very healthy meal. It’s also available in a hot stone bowl (돌솥 – dolsot), which slowly cooks the egg as you stir the ingredients together. If it gets too spicy for you then you can cool your tongue with the accompanying bean-sprout soup.
The characteristic thing about Jeonju bibimbap is that it comes with Korean beef tartar (육회 – Yukhoe), Hwang Po Mook (a yellow jelly made from mung beans) and raw egg yolk (most other regions in Korea serve it with a fried egg). In addition to this, the rice used for bibimbap in Jeonju is cooked in beef broth rather than plain water so it looks and tastes better.
This is how it looks once everything has been mixed together and is ready to be enjoyed. We ate this at a restaurant called Jongnohoigwan (종로회관) which is opposite the west gate of Gyeonggijeon Shrine. Believe me, it tastes as good as it looks!