February 20, 2015 08:01
Dolsot bibimbap, or rice with assorted vegetables served in a hot stone pot, is a nutritionally well-balanced dish with various nutty grains like chestnut, ginko nut, pine nuts, beans, and other vegetables.
And once eaten, you can pour hot water into the pot to make scorched rice soup as a dessert.
There are many theories about the origin of the dish. Some say it was served to special guests at court, and some that it was served at a temple when esteemed guests came to pray, because the ingredients are easy to get in a monastery setting.
Cooking methods at court were different from how ordinary people cooked at home. Commoners usually cooked in bulk, making a mixture of rice, barley and millet topped with beans and potatoes in a large cast iron pot, which was heated by burning pine branches.
But at court, cooks prepared rice for the king and queen separately in small stone pots over hardwood charcoal.
On a large brazier, the cooks would light the charcoal, placing two long steel rods over the brazier to balance the stone pot and boil the water. Then they put the rice into the boiling water, stirring to maintain an even temperature until it gets sticky, rather like risotto. The thickness of the stone prevented the temperature from fluctuating, and the heavy lid prevented evaporation.
Over time, the ways of making dolsot bibimbap diversified. Today many different kinds of rice and grains are used, adding ginseng, chestnut, dates, ginko nuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts as well as seafood such as shrimps and oysters.
A variety of water or broths made from beans or meat are used to cook rice for enhanced flavor and nutrition.
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