This week’s recipe has a personal twist to it. I recently teamed up with Skype to help create some healthy eating challenges for popular vlogger Claire Marshall as part of their SkypeFit project. I’ve had a few roles in the campaign, to include jumping on Skype’s group chats to answer food-related questions, and taking over the Skype Instagram account for a weekend. My favorite piece has been brainstorming with Claire to help her find healthy food solutions.
In our chats, Claire had mentioned that she loves eating out (don’t we all!), Korean barbecue in particular, which is too often laden with sickeningly-sweet marinades. Additionally, she’s been trying to cut back on red meat. So we settled on a weeknight-friendly version of Bibimbap, made with spicy chicken (Dak Bulgogi, 닭불고기), and I challenged her to try and make it on her own. She made a video of the experience, which you can find after the recipe below.
Legend has it that Bibimbap (비빔밥) originated from the belief that leftover food cannot be brought into the New Year. For that reason, Koreans started the practice of mixing together various ingredients in one bowl, and this dish rose to prominence in the early 20th century. Today, you can find it on nearly every Korean restaurant menu.
Let’s talk about the tweaks I made for today’s recipe; in the end, this dish isn’t unlike the Bibimbap found in my first cookbook, but with a few conscious steps to speed up the cooking process for our busy lives. Bibimbap is typically served with Gochujang (고추장), a spicy red sauce, but the intensely flavorful chicken replaces the Gochujang while eliminating the need to make a separate sauce. I also sweetened the marinade with my favorite one-two punch when making Korean barbecue: honey and applesauce. Finally, instead of asking Claire to make her own kimchi (the recipe is in both of my cookbooks, but takes upwards of 5 days to prepare traditionally), I left it as an optional side assuming that your local market sells some.
Here’s a look at my setup when chatting with Claire.
Claire's Chicken Bibimbap (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Perfect Health Diet)
The ingredients list looks a bit daunting, but the reality is that there are a lot of repeat offenders here – sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt. Everything comes together quickly, promise! I made a few minor adjustments to her recipe to fit best with this site, like adding an option of coconut aminos instead of tamari (gluten-free soy sauce).
Spicy Chicken (Dak Bulgogi, 닭불고기):
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks (I used ButcherBox chicken)
1 tbsp Korean red pepper powder (or other chili powder, see note below)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup applesauce (or one 3.9oz single-serving cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp tamari or coconut aminos
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
Carrot and Radishes:
1 carrot, julienned or cut into matchsticks
1/2 lb radishes, thinly sliced
cooked white rice and/or lettuce for wraps (see note below)
chopped scallions for garnish
sesame seeds for garnish
1. Combine the chicken, red pepper powder, honey, applesauce, garlic, sesame oil, tamari, sesame seeds, and salt in a re-sealable plastic bag. Marinate for two hours, or up to overnight. If in a hurry, simply combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and place in the fridge as you prepare the other ingredients.
2. Thinly slice the cucumbers, then salt liberally. Allow to sit for 5-15 minutes to draw their water out, then squeeze out as much water from the cucumbers as possible. Combine with the sesame oil, season with salt to taste; set aside.
3. In a small stockpot, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the bean sprouts. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until softened, about 4 minutes, then remove the sprouts using tongs and transfer to a bowl. Keep the water simmering! Rinse with cold water until cool to the touch, pouring out water as you go. Squeeze out any remaining water from the sprouts, toss with the garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and salt to taste; set aside.
4. Add the spinach to the simmering water, then parboil until bright green and soft, about 30 seconds, then drain into a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool to the touch, then squeeze out any remaining water from the spinach; transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss with the garlic, tamari, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and a pinch of red pepper powder; set aside.
5. Julienne the carrots and slice the radishes, then set aside.
6. To cook the chicken, heat 2 tbsp cooking oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and marinade, then toss to evenly coat with the oil. Allow to sauté, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is mostly cooked through, about 6 minutes. Increase the heat to high then sauté, stirring every minute, until the marinade has evaporated and the chicken starts to crisp, another 4 minutes. Taste and add salt if desired. Set the chicken aside and reduce heat to medium, then fry one egg for each person eating.
7. Time to put it all together: line a serving bowl with cooked white rice, then arrange the prepared vegetables in the dish. Cover the vegetables with some chicken, then a fried egg; garnish with chopped scallions and serve!
** Korean red pepper powder, or Gochugaru (고추가루), is a bit less spicy than your typical red chili powder. When making a substitute, I would suggest something like like 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp paprika (which = 1 tbsp for you mathematicians out there).
** Some restaurants serve Bibimbap in a bowl lined with leafy lettuce, while others offer lettuce on the side to use as wraps. There’s a lot of versatility to adjust the dish to your individual carb intake.
Here is Claire’s video, from when she made the dish. She did a great job, and it was genuinely fun to be a part of her challenge.