Gochujang and Bibimbap, Vermont-style

In Brattleboro, Vermont, we are lucky enough to have our own Korean restaurant, the Shin La. Shin La does NOT serve fast food. You will find a place to sit on your own (choose one of the intimate high-backed booths!), place your order when your server has time, and then... be patient. But it will be worth it. The food is delicious. They also have 20-ounce cans of Sapporo to keep you happy as you wait.

Shin La is the perfect place to catch up with someone special, have hilarious conversations with your BFFs, or dine alone—catch up with yourself, write in your journal, and eat. The latter is something I did last Christmas—I ate at Shin La by myself. Maybe that sounds like boring news, but it was a revelation. Full story: the weekend after Christmas, the rest of my family went to visit relatives in another state, leaving me home alone. I decided that being on my own was a behavioral experiment. If I observed myself carefully, what would I find that I got up to? Would I go to the movies by myself? Would I roust out some friends and go dancing? Would I spend hours on the phone? Would I randomly drive to the mall or an art museum or a bluegrass show? It turns out that, when left to my own devices, my default for comfort and rejuvenation is lunch at Shin La. Specifically, my default comfort food is an order of Bibimbap.

Bibimbap at Shin La,  Brattleboro, Vermont

My Bibimbap was lovely. And I could not forget it. COULD NOT. My taste-sense would keep tripping merrily back to that flavor. I'd randomly think, "Wouldn't it be nice to have rice and veggies and sprouts and... whatever that FLAVOR was? That red-sauce-dollop in the middle? What WAS that stuff?"

Thanks to Google, I found out. That amazing red stuff in my Bibimbap is Gochujang. I chant the word around the house: "Gochujang, Gochujang, Gochujang, Gochujang!" I make up songs where that word is 100% of the lyrics. And I ordered Gochujang from my best retailer friend, Amazon.

It is spicy! It is sweet! It is sticky! Gochujang is pretty much the perfect condiment for white rice, for these 3 reasons. I'm sure this is a Korean travesty, but I have started relying on Gochujang as the basis for basically any rice-vegetable-bowl dinner. I call these bowls Bibimbap, Vermont-Style.

This Bibimbap, Vermont-style is sautéed bok choi and purple carrot with leftover pulled chicken, over rice with Gochujang.

This Bibimbap, Vermont-style is sautéed baby bok choi with sautéed tofu and a soft egg over rice with Gochujang.

Basic elements for Bibimbap, Vermont-style:
  • cooked white rice
  • GOCHUJANG--I got Sunchang brand from Amazon
  • protein—something that you've fried/refried with ginger and/or soy sauce and/or sesame oil. Soft egg, semi-firm tofu, leftover chicken that's been pulled, pork stirfry pieces, usw.
  • veggies—I like something green and something not
  • sprouts?!—I wish I could find meaty soy sprouts like Shin La uses, but have not yet
Have you heard of Gochujang already? According to Bon Appetit it's the latest hot sauce trend!

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