Recipe: Meonggae bibimbap

There are all kinds of bibimbap, but meonggae (멍게, sea pineapple) bibimbap in particular makes a great lunch for sleepy spring days. Meonggae’s bittersweet flavors bring back your appetite at a time of year when we say the changing of the seasons makes you feel listless and lazy. We call this chungonjeung (춘곤증, spring fatigue). A little tip: Whenever you’re feeling lazy in springtime, use this as an excuse! ^.~

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There are two ways to eat meonggae bibimbap: One uses fresh, raw meonggae, and the other uses a lightly salt-cured meonggae. Fresh meonggae is faster and easier to toss in, but if you have a little extra time, lightly salt your meonggae, age for 3 to 4 hours in your fridge, and drain the liquid before using. This will give you a nice, slightly chewier texture and more intense flavor. But this recipe is for a lazy lunch, so I went with fresh meonggae. 🙂

Serving size: 1 bowl

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ingredients:

¼ medium onion

3 to 4 stems of minari (water dropwort)

½ cucumber

3 to 5 leaves ggaennip (perilla leaf)

2 meonggae

1 serving of white rice

1 tsp crushed roasted sesame seed

A drizzle of sesame oil

2 or 3 spoonfuls of chojang (vinegared gochujang)

 

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1. Slice a quarter of an onion thinly and rinse in running water. Set aside to drain.

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2. Roll the ggaennip leaves and slice thinly (chiffonade if you want to get technical ^^)

3. Trim and cut the minari stems into 4 to 5cm pieces

4. Julienne the cucumber

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5. Time to clean the meonggae! You’ll want to clean it over a bowl to catch the juices. Start by slicing off the very top and the bigger bumps, then cut down one side lengthwise (feel free to use scissors if you’re nervous about puncturing the flesh).

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Cut off the base last, then peel off the skin like you’d peel a fruit.

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Cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces but save the juices (strain it once in a fine sieve)!

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Then rinse the meonggae under running water lightly and put back back into the strained juices to keep that special meonggae flavor.

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6. Place one serving of rice in the middle of a large bowl and garnish with the vegetables, meonggae and sesame seed.

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Put your chojang in a small serving dish on the side and season to taste with sesame oil while mixing up everything in your bowl. Enjoy!

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