Variety is a wonderful thing.
When you mix a bit of this and a touch of that, add a spoonful of that other thing and a pinch of the stuff over there, the end result somehow ends up being… magical.
Pffffft, who cares that everything gets combined together when you stir it up? It’s delicious, and that’s ALL THAT MATTERS.
Case and point? Bibimbap.
You got your lettuce, your egg, your mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers… and the rice. Mix it all together with a dollop of gochujang, and you end up with a bowl of awesome deliciousness that you eat all of, even when it seems like too much food for a single person to consume by herself (can you tell I’m speaking from experience?).
I’ve waxed poetic many a time about my never-ending love for bibimbap. But I haven’t gushed as much about ahl-bap (알밥).
It’s probably because I haven’t had ahl-bap (literally egg rice, although in this case the egg is fish roe) nearly as much as I’ve had bibimbap. It’s also something I haven’t had until pretty recently.
I know, it’s sad. But you know what’s sadder?
The fact that I haven’t been able to tell you guys about this until now.
So here I am, trying to make amends with this post.
Well, now you know that ahl-bap has masago, or fish eggs in it. But like bibimbap, it’s a lot of prep-work with a little bit of assembly at the end.
You start with the kimchi.
Which you sauté…
With sugar, sesame seeds and sesame oil.
Then cover with a lid, to steam it a bit and help it cook faster.
Frequent stirring is recommended.
While the kimchi’s cooking away on the stovetop, you might want to start getting all the other components together. Just so you aren’t overwhelmed by all the other prepwork later.
You know, like washing the 깻잎 (ggeh-neep), or sesame leaves.
And cutting up the cucumbers.
While you’ve got the cutting board out, you should also cut up the imitation crab meat.
After they’re chopped into same-sized cubes, put them in a bowl with a large dollop of mayonnaise.
Until evenly coated.
The perilla leaves also need to be cut up, as do scallions.
Whew. That’s a whole lotta of cutting, dicing, and chopping.
But we’re not done yet!
You have to take unsalted gim (dried laver seaweed) and toast it, ever so gently in a pan.
(We usually just do this over an open flame, but cooking it in a pan makes it more even).
As the gim cooks, it’ll curl up slightly and emit a toasty smell – make sure to flip it and cook both sides evenly!
Eventually, the laver will change from a black-blue into a greenish color; that’s when you know it’s done.
After cooking all the seaweed, tear it into little bits with clean, dry hands.
NOW the prepwork is done. Give yourself a pat on the back – you deserve it!
Finished congratulating yourself? Good.
Let’s get started with the ahl-bap assemblage.
It’s ahl-BAP, right? So there’s gotta be bap (i.e. rice). I prefer brown rice, although my grandparents like white rice. It’s your choice!
Oh, and you should also add a drizzle of sesame oil to the rice.
Once you’ve got the rice base down, all you have to do is add the other ingredients in whatever amount you want them in.
It’s as easy as:
Don’t that look delicious?
In order to really appreciate the amazingness of ahl-bap, you have to really mix everything together. None of that wussy trying-to-arrange-everything-in-one-spoonful stuff; that ain’t acceptable around here.
Because wouldn’t you rather have this instead?