Bibimbap, literally meaning “mixed rice,” a very popular dish in Korea, is prepared with steamed white rice, beef, and vegetables, topped with a fried sunny-side-up egg and spicy red chili paste, called gochujang. It’s one of the dishes that Chefs Guillas & Oliver hoped would propel them to the number one spot at the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge.
Three teams of two non-Korean chefs randomly chose six traditional Korean dishes which were to be prepared in 30 minutes. Host Cathlyn Choi then provided a Magic Basket, containing traditional Korean ingredients that the chefs were required to incorporate into their dish. As one of six food bloggers along with three other esteemed judges, it was my absolute pleasure to attend this event earlier in the month in San Diego, California.
SIX DISHES SELECTED FOR THE CHALLENGE
bibimbap – beef & mixed vegetable rice with fried egg
tuk bokki – spicy rice cake with vegetables
galbi jim – braised short rib stew
dak galbi – spicy stir-fried chicken
gu jeol pan – royal nine section pan with meat, vegetables, and thin wheat pancakes
kimchi – fermented cabbage
TOP CHEF KOREAN FOOD CHALLENGE
This Top Chef Competition is a part of [buzzKOREA], a global campaign organized to introduce the brilliance of Korean culture and to share the secrets of the great hidden cuisine of Korea. Korean food is honestly the undiscovered jewel of Asian cooking.
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
@ SAN DIEGO WINE & CULINARY CENTER
Foodies, bloggers, restaurateurs, and chefs gather to photograph the beginning of the
Top Chef Korean Food Challenge.
Chefs Plascencia & Montano
Challenge: Galbi Jim & Dak Galbi
Host Cathlyn Choi checks in with Plascencia & Montano during their 30 minute time slot.
Galbi Jim 갈비찜
braised short rib stew
Dak Galbi 닭갈비
spicy stir-fried chicken
Galbi Jim presented on bowls with banana leaf.
Dak Galbi presented in glass shots topped with deep-fried sesame leaf.
Montano also prepares an alternative presentation, for her dak galbi, in wooden cubes.
Judges score each dish on a scale of one to five for originality, taste, and presentation.
THE FOOD BLOGGER JUDGES
Chefs Guillas & Oliver
Challenge: Bibimbap & Tuk Bokki
Oliver plates tuk bokki.
Guillas plates his deconstructed bibimbap. In addition to the traditional rice, he has added barley, then flavored the rice/barley with a generous dusting of aromatic fennel pollen.
Double Yolk – a sign of good luck for the Guillas & Oliver team?
Here, Guillas’ bibimbap is cooked in a stone pot,
which forms a desirable crispy rice crust on the bottom of the pot.
TASTE WITH THE EYES BIBIMBAP DRAMATIZATION
(reconstructing the dish at home in a form suitable for dramatic presentation)
The traditional way to enjoy bibimbap is to vigorously mix all the ingredients with chopsticks. The egg yolk flavors and binds the vegetable, beef, and rice mixture while the spicy red sauce, gochujang, is incorporated throughout.
The competition heats up!
Tuk Bokki 떡볶이
spicy rice cake with vegetables
Tuk Bokki is a popular Korean snack food commonly purchased from street vendors.
Kudos to Chef Oliver for his very photogenic plating and presentation of this dish!
Cathlyn Choi with Hirsty & Norton ready to film their segment.
Challenge : Kimchi & Gujeolpan
Gujeolpan, meaning “nine section pan” is an exquisite royal dish traditionally served on an octagonal platter, prepared with eight separate meat and vegetable offerings plus delicate crepe-like pancakes called miljeonbyeong. Diners place any combination of the meat and vegetables into the small pancake, and roll or fold to enjoy. Korean tacos are a hot new menu item, now globally paired with Mexican cuisine…what’s very old is new again. And worth celebrating.
Prizes include $100o, round trip airfare to Korea, plus other promotional items.
INTERVIEWING THE CHEFS
Chefs Plascencia & Montano share that their version of Korean Food (Hansik)
was inspired by Mexican street foods.
Chefs Guillas & Oliver explain their choice to incorporate some non-traditional ingredients to personalize their dishes. For example, bibimbap was flavored with fennel pollen and tuk bokki was garnished with colorful Japanese rice crackers.
Judge for Yourself!
Airs in California on April 7, 2011 @ 9 PM on KOCE
A TV schedule by city can be found here.
Vote @ [buzzKOREA]
Who will be the winner? There are two opportunities for the chefs to win Top Chef Korean Food Challenge. The first was in San Diego at the live event in February where the food was tasted by the 9 judges. The second opportunity is online voting in the month of March. Voters cast a vote through buzz-Korea for their favorite chefs based on reading blog posts and viewing photographs of the competition.
TASTE WITH THE EYES FALLS FOR KOREAN FOOD
Inspired by all the fabulous Korean ingredients and Chef Plascencia’s Galbi Jim, I rushed home from San Diego to create my own dish using authentic ingredients such as gingko nuts, dried jujube, and chestnuts. Galbi Jim is a popular feast dish, often enjoyed on New Year’s Day. We loved the combination of the red dates, shiitakes, daikon and chestnuts in the stew. The ginkgo nuts added a curious bitter counterpart, semi-crunchy texture and unique yellow-green color. The sauce was simultaneously earthy, sweet and savory. It was an extraordinary dish! The recipe was posted on February 18, here.
Extending a special thank you for including Taste With The Eyes in this Top Chef event. Your mission to introduce the uninitiated to Korean Cuisine has been more than successful here. I have fallen head-over-heels for Hansik, and plan to share my discoveries of traditional Korean dishes and Korean fusion cooking along the way.
Korean Fusion Cooking
my kimchi pizza: rice cake ovalets, gochujang sauce, radish sprouts
Thank You: Korea Ministry of Tourism, ibuzz, www.buzz-korea.com,
Gina Lee, Jin Kim, Cathlyn Choi, fellow Bloggers, Judges, and Chefs.