Yeolmu Kimchi Bibimbap
Yeolmu kimchi bibimbap is a simple, Korean barley rice bowl mixed with young radish kimchi and a spicy gochujang-based sauce. With crunchy radish greens and chewy barley rice, this fresh and mildly spicy dish is perfect to enjoy on a hot summer day.
You may have already heard of or tried traditional Korean bibimbap. It’s a popular rice bowl prepared with an assortment of colorful, cooked vegetables mixed in a sweet and spicy, gochujang-based sauce.
Yeolmu bibimbap or bori-yeolmu bibimbap (보리열무 비빔밥), on the other hand, is a lot simpler in ingredients, and can be made with just barley rice, yeolmu kimchi, and bibimbap sauce.
However, there are certainly variations of this dish and you could always add more toppings if you’d like. I like to mix in some sliced perilla leaves. With its herby, anise-like taste, it’s an easy way to add some flavor complexity.
Yeolmu kimchi (열무김치), the star ingredient in this bibimbap, is one of several types of Korean kimchi. Baechu kimchi (배추김치) or Napa cabbage kimchi is the most widely-known type of kimchi. And due to its popularity, it is usually simply referred to as kimchi.
Yeolmu kimchi is made with young radishes. They have have long, plump green stems and a small, white root. After some of the leaves are removed, the stems are seasoned and lightly fermented with some garlic, ginger, sugar, salted shrimp (saewujeot 새우젓), Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru, 고추가루), flour, and salt water.
Once ready to eat, the chilled yeolmu kimchi is crunchy, juicy, and only mildly spicy.
I personally have not tried making homemade yeolmu kimchi just yet, but it’s definitely on my to-do list. For now, I get my yeolmu kimchi from H-Mart. NOTE: You’ll have better luck finding ready-made yeolmu kimchi during the spring and summer months when young radishes are in season.
Koreans like to add yeolmu kimchi to cold dishes such as bibimbap, bibim guksu, and naengmyeon.
Barley rice (boribap, 보리밥) is made with steamed white rice and barley.
It is sometimes used to make Korean mixed rice or bibimbap and is commonly served with a healthy, fermented soybean soup called doenjang jjigae (된장찌개).
The plump and nutty-flavored barley grains give the rice a hearty texture that pairs well with the crunchy and juicy radish greens in yeolmu bibimbap.
Barley also has more nutritious value than plain white rice. It is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Unlike white rice, however, it does contain gluten.
Pearled versus Hulled Barley
Make sure to buy pearled barley, and not hulled barley. Pearled barley has its hard outer husk removed, leaving chewy and nutty-flavored grains. It also takes a lot less time to cook. It takes about an hour longer to cook hulled barley.
How to cook barley rice
I like to cook 1 1/2 cup of barley rice with 1/2 cup of white rice (a 3:1 ratio) and use the mixed rice setting on my Cuckoo rice cooker.
However, if you plan to cook the boribap on your stove-top, you will have to cook the barley and white rice separately. The barley grains are pretty large and take longer to cook.
To cook, add the barley grains to a medium saucepan covered with a little less than 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Continue by covering the saucepan, lowering the heat, and letting it simmer for about 40 minutes. Similarly, cook the white rice but covered with about 1 inch of water and cooked for 15 minutes over low heat. Finally, gently mix the steamed barley and white rice together and serve.
The sauce for bibimbap is spicy, savory, and slightly sweet. Spicy Korean red chili pepper paste (gochujang) is the main base for the sauce. A few other ingredients help make it thinner in consistency, savory, and slightly sweet. The toasted sesame oil adds a nutty flavor, the rice vinegar some tang, and the coconut sugar a subtle sweetness.
This is the same sauce recipe that I use for my al dolsot bibimbap.
Yeolmu Kimchi Bibimbap & Doenjang Jjigae
They make a delicious pair. Chilled and crunchy bites of yeolmu kimchi bibimbap with hearty sips of umami-rich, piping hot doenjang soup are perfect to enjoy on a hot summer day. It’s no wonder they are usually served together.
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Yeolmu Kimchi Bibimbap
- 1½ cup steamed barley rice (see notes)
- 1 cup yeolmu-kimchi, chopped
- ⅔ cup perilla leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
- 3 eggs, sunny-side up (optional, see notes)
- 2 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- ½ tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- Cook the barley rice. (See notes)
- Mix together the bibimbap sauce ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined.
- Add some steamed barley rice to a dinner bowl, and top it with some yeolmu kimchi, perilla leaves, and bibimbap sauce.
- Mix well, top with (optional, see notes) sunny-side up egg, and serve immediately.