Saturday, September 11, 2010

A recipe with fungi and algae!

I have never actually eaten a lichen, but I was thinking the other day about how I do like to eat both fungi and algae, especially together.  Several years ago, my wife and I took a Korean cooking class, where we learned some great recipes.  The one that we enjoy cooking the most is Bee-bim Bop, a dish with all kinds of veggies served over rice.  We usually serve it like a salad bar, where people can put whatever items they want on their rice then mix it themselves.  In addition to the veggies, both fungi (mushrooms) and algae (seaweed) are a traditional part of the dish, and help to form a flavor symbiosis of sorts.

Here's our recipe for Bee-bim Bop:

Ingredients (you can vary the quantities of each vegetable depending on your preference)
Rice (cook ~1/2 cup per person)
Shiitake mushrooms
Bean Sprouts (~1 cup)
Eggs (to be whipped, fried, and sliced; we use 3 eggs)
Carrots (to be cut into matchsticks and fried; 1 big carrot should do it)
Onion (to be chopped and fried)
Cucumber (to be cut into matchsticks)
Lettuce (1 small head or less)
Tofu (firm, cubed; ~ 1 cup)
green onion tops for garnish
Seasonings: salt, garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper

Now there is a lot of vegetable chopping to be done!

1. Soak dried mushrooms at least 30 minutes
2. Wash and get rice cooking.
3. Prepare marinade sauce for mushrooms and tofu: 1t salt, 1/2t garlic, and 1t sesame oil (make as much as you need using those proportions).  Put the tofu (raw) in a bowl with some of the sauce to marinate while you do the next few steps.
3. Wash the bean sprouts and put them in a pot with a little water (not quite covering them) and a pinch of salt. Cook them, covered, about 15 minutes on medium-high heat, then drain and place in a bowl.
4. Heat some sesame oil in a frying pan for the eggs. Mix the eggs and a dash of salt vigorously with a fork and then pour them into the hot pan. Let it spread out as much as possible. Flip it after a couple minutes, and when the "pancake" is cooked through, take it out of the frying pan and slice it into long, thin strips.
5. Cut the carrots and onions into thin pieces and fry them (with salt) in the hot oil until the carrots are tender.
6. Drain the re-hydrated mushrooms and squeeze excess water out of them.  Mix them with some of the sauce from step 3 and fry.
7. Fry the tofu in hot oil with black pepper.
8. Drain the cooked bean sprouts and season them with a little bit of salt, garlic, sesame seeds, and sesame oil.
9. Cut the cucumber and lettuce into long thin strips. 
10. Prepare Goo Choo Chang sauce: mix 1/2t cayenne pepper, 1/2t garlic, 1t sesame seeds, 1T soy sauce,  1T sugar, and 1T sesame oil.  You'll want to put this in a little container for pouring at the dinner table.

When you have it all ready, you should have on the table a big bowl of rice and small bowls with the mushrooms, sprouts, egg strips, carrots & onions, tofu, cucumber, and lettuce. 

To Serve:
Put cooked rice into individual serving bowls.
Put vegetables, eggs, tofu, and mushrooms on top of the rice.
Pour Go Choo Chang sauce over bowl.
Mix thoroughly, and add more sesame oil to the mixture depending on your preference.
Serve with Kim Chee and Laver seaweed (thin and crispy... not sushi nori).
The ingredients on display (with a small one who is quite excited about the algae)!

The final product, with algae around the edges and fungi in the mix with the rest.

All that's left at this point is to give your hands a thorough washing and dig in; we typically eat this by using the little sheets of laver as our utensils!




  1. Did you grow the shiitake yourself?

  2. We actually get our shiitake mushrooms from a great local place called Spain Farm:
    They also sell free-range chicken eggs, which we typically use in this recipe.