Bibimbap: Korean stone-pot rice

Bibibmap

Amongst my wonderful Christmas gifts was a bibimbap kit from Sous Chef. It’s a Korean dish literally meaning ‘mixed rice’ – a bowl of rice cooked in a stone pot topped with various vegetables and meat or tofu, finished with an egg and seasoned with hot pepper paste. I’ve been wanting to try it again since we had a similar thing in Tokyo. There are also a couple of Korean restaurants serving it in London now, like the aptly-named Bibimbap in Soho.

Bibibmap
Bibibmap
Bibibmap

It turns out that bibimbap, despite looking quite impressive, is really fun to cook and barely even needs a recipe, although I’ve attached my notes below. The cooking process is really just a prep and assembly job: cooking the rice, heating the dolsot and chopping and cooking the veg (simply steamed or sautéed). If you’re alright with multitasking it can be ready in about half an hour.

Bibibmap

The key to an authentic bibimbap is the special stone cooking pot called a dolsot. It’s warmed on the hob and seasoned with sesame oil before adding the rice for its final cooking. The roasting-hot stone imparts a mysteriously wonderful quality to the dish, as well as making delicious crackly morsels of rice around the edges to pick off with your chopsticks. It holds the heat extremely well, cooking the egg yolk and keeping the rice warm as you dig in.

Bibibmap

You can easily adapt the basic recipe to your favourite vegetable/protein combo, and make it vegan by omitting the egg. The one absolutely essential ingredient is the gochujang, a salty, spicy red pepper paste that provides all the seasoning the dish needs. It comes in a pleasingly Asian-looking little tub and will last in the fridge for ages – if you don’t make bibimbap every night anyway, as I’m now tempted to do.

Bibibmap
Bibibmap

For such low effort, the taste is just amazing, and it’s a pretty healthy yet hearty and filling dish. It’s definitely being added to my regular roster. You can buy a bibimbap kit with everything you need to get started from Sous Chef. Let me know if you have a go!

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Recipe: veggie tofu ramen bowl

Ramen is fast becoming a new foody trend, with lots of new places opening up in town serving delicious bowls of noodles swimming in sweet-sour stock. Unfortunately the key component of traditional ramen is a dollop of sizzling pig fat (along with boiled bones to make the stock), so I can’t indulge in the real deal very often. But I’ve made a pretty good take on it at home a few times, perfect for cold nights and very healthy! It gets its body from marinated crispy-fried tofu, and the addition of an egg or two, swirled into the stock, makes it even more filling.

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Recipe: vegan Japanese tofu stew

This is such a great recipe for this time of year: warming, comforting and yet incredibly healthy. It’s basically a vegan Japanese take on a classic English beef stew, with gravy, melting potatoes and flavourful chunks of carrot and onion. Crispy tofu takes the place of beef, which acts like a sponge soaking up all the lovely liquor. I first got the recipe when I did my Japanese cooking course a couple of years ago, but I’ve adapted it a fair bit since then to suit my taste and store cupboard. Do try it, the flavours you get from so few simple ingredients is really surprising.

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Posh pasta

Pasta

I really enjoyed watching Michela Chiappa‘s recent Italian cooking series on Channel 4. The short series went from the basics of pasta making up to showstopping occasion pasta. Lots of veggie stuff too that was more exciting than the standard Italian fare too, like these ‘Nidi’ rolled pancakes.

Pic: Channel 4 Food

I’ve already had some successful experiments with pasta making, so decided to level-up and try this lovely ‘silhouette’ pasta: the sheets are sandwiched with herbs before being cut into strands, leaving a pretty see-through effect as well as extra flavour.

Pasta

I used some herbs from my garden pots – basil and sage – shredding them instead of keeping the leaves whole to distribute the flavour a bit more, and also added a generous amount of chilli flakes.

Pasta

My pappardelle could have done with being a bit thinner – though you do add thickness from having two layers and risk ruining the effect if you re-roll too thinly – but the colour effect and extra flavours definitely came through.

Pasta
Pasta

The cold no-cook tomato sauce Michela paired the pasta with was really punchy and fresh, a great complement to the spiced herby pasta and perfect for a warmer evening. As the recipe warns, the sauce is VERY garlicky, so you might want to reduce the amount if you’re not a garlic fiend. I also blitzed mine a bit with a stick blender to make it coat the pasta better.

Pasta

You can find the recipes for the pasta and sauce here. Making your own pasta is so much fun and really easy after a few practice runs. All you need is a basic cheap machine and you can even make the dough in bulk and freeze portions so you have fresh pasta practically on tap.

Pic: Channel 4 Food

Up next I’ll be trying something more advanced: these beautiful plaited parcels or the ultimate: egg yolk ravioli with truffle. Mmmm.

Recent eats: in & out

Time for a roundup of what I’ve been eating lately. Sorry for mostly iPhone pics, my semi-broken camera means I don’t carry it around as much as usual..

Wahaca




We went to the soft launch of the new Wahaca on the South Bank. It’s constructed from shipping containers, beautifully designed and decorated, and the menu has loads of new dishes (hellooooo, 3-chilli tacos) as well as old favourites.

Rita’s

Macaroni cheese, tacos and griddled corn, washed down with lethal slushie margaritas, at the super-hip Rita’s pop up in Dalston’s Birthdays bar. In fact it was probably all a bit too hip for Sarah and I, and the food and hectic service not quite good enough to encourage a return visit.

Continue reading Recent eats: in & out

Recipe: Tofu garden scramble

I’ve had a sore tummy for the last couple of weeks so I’ve been trying to cut down my wheat intake, which (unfortunately) seems to be helping it to settle down. Sob – bye bye Pasta Sundays for now! To be veggie and wheat-free requires a bit of creative thinking – and shows how me often I default to pasta or pizza – so I’ve been trying things I haven’t done before.


After having a Japanese stir-fry the other night, I used the leftover tofu to replicate a lovely garden scramble I had for brunch in San Francisco. As well as being an Asian mainstay, firm tofu is really good as a more substantial (and vegan) substitute for scrambled egg, and its bland creaminess works well with all sorts of other flavours, from Mediterranean to Indian.

I teamed it with the contents of my veg drawer, some leftover pesto and a squeeze of lime to make a delicious dish that took under ten minutes. You could sub the green veg for whatever you have: I used my favourite, samphire, because I spotted it in Waitrose (on the fish counter instead of veg aisle, natch), but it’d also work great with broccoli, green beans or peas. I also used an amazing fiery chilli pesto from Romeo Jones at Broadway Market but normal red pesto would work, with a sprinkle of chilli if you like it hot. I served it on a wheat (whoops) tortilla to bulk it up a bit, but actually found it made quite a filling supper on its own.

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Pasta Sundays: Orecchiette & aubergine

Orecchiette

For this week’s pasta dinner I made orecchiette – one of my favourites but sometimes hard to find in the shops. The name means ‘little ears’ and they are thickish little domes of pasta with more bite than some of the usual shapes. I didn’t quite nail the cut ‘n’ roll technique so mine turned out a little too thick and chewy – one to try again.

Orecchiette

But I have to say the sauce I made to go with it was delicious, which i why I’ve written up the recipe to make it again. Inspired by an awesome sandwich I had for lunch at Fernandez & Wells, I tried a smoky, spiced mixture of charred aubergine with my usual concentrated tomato base, and some spicing that’s unusual for pasta pairings: Middle Eastern-inspired cumin, sumac and chilli. In fact the ingredients are all pretty similar to last week’s lasagne, just the spicing gives it a twist. Try it – this sauce would go with any shaped pasta, or would be great with gnocchi.

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Recipe: roasted vegetable lasagne

It was starting to feel like ages since I’d properly cooked anything – been really busy with work lately, plus another cat in the household = busy times! So I made sure to uphold Pasta Sunday this weekend, my mini-mission to try using my pasta machine for a different dish every week. So far we’ve had ravioli, tortellini and last week, tagliatelle with broccoli and cream (actually knocked up mid-week with some frozen unrolled dough, which works great):

This week I made a lasagne to use up some of the vegetables in the fridge. I’m getting speedier with the pasta machine each time, and the bonus of lasagne = no fiddly cutting or stuffing required. This was ready in under an hour from start to finish.


The thinness test – I can see the placemat through it!



This lasagne is really richly flavoured from the concentrated tomato sauce, charred veg and made extra-rich with the cheesy top. Josh (not a vegetarian) said it was one of the best lasagnes he’s eaten.

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Homemade pasta

homemade pasta

It’s obviously a sign of getting old that my idea of a really fun Saturday night these days is having the luxury of time to spend hours making something interesting for dinner. I got a pasta machine for my birthday last month, so this week’s culinary adventure was making tortellini and ravioli from scratch. I’ve wanted to try this for ages as the veggie fillings you find in readymade ones are often limited, and I love the taste of fresh pasta.

homemade pasta

I used a basic dough recipe from Leith’s Vegetarian Bible (I halved the recipe quantity – 225g ’00’ flour, two eggs and a drizzle of olive oil – and still had enough to make four portions) and improvised a simple mushroomy filling with shallot, garlic and spinach.

homemade pasta

Rolling the dough and putting the shapes together was surprisingly easy though pretty time-consuming. I made ravioli by sandwiching two circles together, and tortellini by folding less filling into one circle and bending into a little shell shape. The tortellini went in the freezer for another night.

homemade pasta

Final step, boiling the pasta briefly, holding my breath that they wouldn’t burst or disintegrate (per my failed attempt at making gnocchi a while ago), then a final quick fry in butter to add a crispy texture.

homemade pasta

Served with cheeses I had to hand in the fridge – manchego and mozzarella – and a drizzle of truffle oil, it tasted really pretty good! I’ll definitely try this again with more adventurous fillings – thinking roasted aubergine, oven-dried tomato with veggie chorizo, and even potato for a double-carby hit.

Cooking with Tim Anderson

Cooking with Tim Anderson

I’m kind of a Masterchef fangirl – in fact, I love any cookery show on TV – so when Handpicked Media extended an invite to a cookery demo night with last year’s champ Tim Anderson I jumped at it. I loved Tim’s cooking on the show – a modern fusion-y take on Japanese – and was pleased to see the menu for the night was of the same ilk.

Cooking with Tim Anderson

The event was sponsored by Oral B, for whom Tim is a new ambassador, and throughout the night they highlighted the kind of damage that everyday foods can do to your teeth – not just the sugary treats you might expect, but acidic foods, from tomatoes to tea, can erode away enamel and leave your teeth sensitive, stained and generally unhappy. But back to the food for a sec…

Cooking with Tim Anderson
Cooking with Tim Anderson

Tim demonstrated both of the dishes for us, then we had a go recreating them in teams of two. First up, sashimi (or tofu for the veggies) with various seaweeds, a passion fruit foam, and dashi granita. Despite looking super fancy, this dish was really easy to put together – the main ingredient needs no cooking and the foam is simply whizzed with a stick blender to give it texture. The eating was a lovely blend of temperatures and textures, and the sweet foam really lifted the tofu.

Cooking with Tim Anderson

The main dish was tea-marinated egg on a crispy leek nest with chana puree – most definitely the kind of thing that’d jump out at me on a restaurant menu. Despite looking exquisite and complex it was again really quite simple and cooked almost in real-time (apart from the egg, which needs 24 hours to soak up the chai tea broth). I’d definitely cook it at home again; the flavours and textures were fantastic. If you’d like to try it too, the recipe’s at the bottom of this blog post!

Cooking with Tim Anderson

These crispy leeks would make an awesome accompaniment to loads of dishes, I reckon

While we ate, one of Oral B’s scientists, Adam, told us about their new toothpaste, Pro-expert, which addresses the problems food can cause to your tooth enamel by creating an effective barrier as you brush. I’m generally skeptical of such claims (and I don’t think these ads that smack of pseudo-science do any favours) but Adam really knew his stuff, and I came away quite convinced that it’s worth investing in a good toothpaste. I’ve been using the sample tube we were given and I swear my teeth feel cleaner already. You get a free sample too right here.

Cooking with Tim Anderson

One of Tim’s next projects is running a cookery tour holiday to Japan, yours for just £5k. Hey Handpicked, I’d happily go to this too in the name of blog-journalism, k? CALL ME!

Cooking with Tim Anderson

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