I'm in a cross-cultural marriage. I love it because it teaches me many things about the people of the world, our differences and similarities. Not just in reference to my or my husband's culture-- all of the world. We're fond of having light and serious talks about different countries and races and we get surprised and laugh and wonder like crazy about all sorts of things all the time.
We also enjoy different foods of different places. However, I've been vegetarian since I was thirteen and was then living in the countryside where there was not a single restaurant offering international dishes (except for a McDonald's that was built when I was about eleven).
Also, before becoming vegetarian, I was a veeeery picky eater-- I ate only 5 kinds of fish (cooked and sliced in a specific manner or I won't eat it, as my grandmother used to complain); I ate chicken (just the crunchy breading part) not more than 10 times in my whole life and; I never ate beef and pork. You might be thinking now that I was meant to be vegetarian ever since I was born (my mom, I'm sure, thinks so because she always says that I didn't like meat as a baby). Only thing is, I didn't like vegetables either! Well, except for fried potato (don't call it French fries because it makes me sound even worse). Hahaha.
On the other hand, my husband is very particular with the texture of food. One dinnertime, I accidentally cooked our pasta about 10 seconds more than written in the cooking instructions. I didn't think he'll mind or even notice but, UGH, he did. He said the pasta was quite soggy. *jaw drop*
What I'm trying to say is, I have very limited experience with food; and being a vegetarian makes that even tinier. And that my husband is not a vegetarian and he is very meticulous with the texture of food, not to mention his taste buds are not easily pleased. On top of that, we live in Japan, where every street is crowded with food wonders. So it's really a great challenge for me to produce something he'll really love.
But all those things cannot discourage my heart to try a dish I've never tasted, even yet serve it to my dearest complex-tongued husband. I decided to go for bibimbap for dinner. Bibimbap is a Korean word which literally means "mixed rice". So I thought, Oooh... just mixed rice. Well, I've seen it on TV, what else do I need? Haha.
I knew I can copy how it looks. But I have no idea how it tastes, not even how it smells. So I knew I had to do some research. But all I can do is just check the common ingredients of its recipes on the Internet.
According to my research, I need some things I can't even pronounce. But Wikipedia explained those ingredients to me well enough to give me idea on what to use instead. I imagined bibimbap should be spicy and oily and soy sauce-y and has different layers of flavors from all the vegetables and Not Vegetables. So I dashed to the supermarket to get "colors" for my rice bowl.
I will jump to the end of my bibimbap story-- my husband liked it! And I've even made it several times already. So I'm proud to say to Mr. Bibimbap, I conquered you this time, never-been-tasted-non-vegetarian food!
With all the yummy vegetables you can put in it plus the aroma of sesame oil and good quality soy sauce, I'd say you cannot go wrong with this dish! So, don't be frustrated if you don't have the ingredients I used-- just be creative and top your rice with differently seasoned vegetables and tofu, even all of your favorites!
Heat the pan in full blast. Put strips of aburaage on hot pan and keep on mixing to keep from burning. Once it's crispy, remove from pan.
On the same pan, put a little oil. Lower the fire. Fry the egg thinly, about 1-2mm in width. When done, remove from heat and let it cool. Once cooled, roll and cut into strips.
On the same pan, stir fry shiitake mushroom strips until lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Still on the same pan, add a little oil and stir fry strips of vegetarian salami. Set aside.
Melt butter on pan and stir fry cabbage. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flavoring. Set aside.
Lightly stir fry bean sprouts on the same pan and season with ajinomoto or any preferred seasoning. Set aside.
Add broccoli or radish sprouts on pan and immediately pour in soy sauce-mirin-black pepper mix.
Boil or stir fry carrot, with or without seasonings.
On a bowl with hot rice, arrange all the cooked stuff, pour some sesame oil and add chili sauce.