We never fail to get excited about the fact that we can get locally grown rice in the Western North Carolina mountains. Lee’s One Fortune Farm has had its fall harvest available in limited quantities for the past couple of weeks at many farmers tailgate markets, including purple and brown rice varieties. The flavor of rice this fresh elevates even the simplest preparations, but Korean bibimbap is a dish that can really highlight all the best of your market haul.
Bibimbap is a hot rice bowl topped with cooked and marinated vegetables, optional meat (usually beef), and egg. You can vary it seasonally or according to taste. Start with the Lee’s purple rice, cooked one-to-one rice to water. The result is a slightly sweet and earthy base for the bibimbap. You can serve it at room temperature or reheat on a tray in the oven to achieve a crusty bottom layer similar to the traditional method of serving in a hot stone bowl.
Next, sauté mushrooms (such as shiitakes from Black Trumpet Farm at Asheville City Market–South or River Arts District Farmers Market). Sliced or julienned carrots, available from many farms, can be cooked in the same pan, adding a dash of sesame oil and seeds. For greens, spinach is a go-to option, but sweet potato greens cook up even silkier and work well in bibimbap when you can find them (check with Highgate Farm at Black Mountain Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, or West Asheville Tailgate Market). Olivette Farm (Asheville City Market) brought bok choy to market this past week, which would be another fine choice. Quick-pickled or salted cucumber slices add crunch, as do radishes or boiled edamame beans (find fresh edamame from Flying Cloud Farm at North Asheville Tailgate Market or River Arts District Farmers Market). Make a small pile of each vegetable on top of the rice.
If you’re including meat, try thinly sliced ribeye, marinated bulgogi-style with grated Asian pear, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger, then cooked over high heat. A fresh farm egg, fried, goes at the center of the bibimbap bowl (you can get both your egg and ribeye from Dry Ridge Farm at Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts Tailgate Market, or West Asheville Tailgate Market). Top with kimchi (from Serotonin Ferments at Asheville City Market or North Asheville Tailgate Market; Fermenti at North Asheville Tailgate Market, Weaverville Tailgate Market, or West Asheville Tailgate Market; or Sweet Brine’d at Asheville City Market) and gochujang (fermented chili paste).
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.