Christmas Eve 2020. We didn’t go to my mother’s house for Christmas Eve in 2020 because of the pandemic. Probably the first time we had not been there since before my father passed away in 1996. At the time, I think Maine still had its travel ban for people coming in from Massachusetts.
This bowl of Bibimbap came from Bonchon. We also got the requisite Korean fried chicken wings that they are known for. Bibimbap is sort of entry-level Korean food, but it’s also pretty reliable when you aren’t sure of what else might be good on the menu. If I order it in a restaurant, I like to get it in the hot stone bowl (Dolsot bibimbap), so the rice browns up and gets crispy, but that’s not really feasible for takeout.
Even without the stone bowl, and even though Bonchon is only a couple of minutes from our house, I think this is yet another dish that needs to be eaten immediately when served to get the maximum effect of the dish. It was okay as takeout, but not great. There aren’t a lot of Korean places around here, so I don’t have a good bead on where to go to get really good Korean food, so I won’t really speculate on the overall quality of Bonchon’s offering. I do really like their fried chicken, though.
The recipe for these tacos can be made with either short rib or flank steak, and we happened to have flank steak in the freezer. The meat is cooked in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, so it only takes a few minutes, then gets finished under a broiler. Along with the meat, there’s a cooking liquid that includes gochujang, honey. hoisin, soy, garlic, and a fe w other things I’m forgetting. Meanwhile, you also make a slaw with a rice vinegar dressing, salsa verde, and diced jalapenos. These are also topped with a little shredded cheese.
Everything was incredibly tasty, but I can see where short ribs would really shine in this recipe. The flank steak just doesn’t have as much richness from internal fat. Several different layers of flavor from the pepper sauce, the slaw, the meat, and the cheese made each bite interesting. Spicy, but not impossibly hot – the gochujang we have on hand is mild, but you could ratchet it up A LOT if you were so inclined. Black beans and corn maybe seem like they don’t really go with Korean tacos, but my wife doesn’t eat meat, so that what she put in her tacos, and they served as the requisite non-spicy side you need to have with spicy food. Looking forward to having these again soon.