Pork Loin Bebimbap
Man, I love this country. I think we are just exceptionally lucky, with our mosaic rather than melting-pot approach to growing our diverse population, that we get access to such absolutely delicious food with every wave of newcomers from a different place. One of my absolute favorites has got to be the stellar Korean dish called Bebimbap. Bebimbap literally means “mixed rice” in Korean, and it starts with a base of warm rice in a bowl, topped with seaweed, vegetables, sometimes meat, kimchee for sure, and an egg – sometimes raw, sometimes poached, and an array of choices when it comes to sauce to flavor things.
I like it when dishes give you a lot of options under the same name, because let’s face it – who (except for a Korean family) has ALL the ingredients for Bebimbap in the pantry on a night when dinner has to be a snap decision, and made quickly? So – tonight’s Pork Loin Bebimbap features some stand-ins for Korean staples, but the overall effect (especially when you mix it all together just prior to stuffing it in your mouth) is undeniably delicious, and at least reminds you very strongly of all that’s good about Korean food.
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup gluten-free soy sauce (I STRONGLY recommend Kikkoman GF, because frankly this is the closest to Korean, which, like Japanese, tends to be sweeter than the GF versions of Chinese soy sauces. And – you can get Kikkoman at every grocery chain store in Calgary now).
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsp. white granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup butter
For the rest:
- 1 pork tenderloin
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1-2 tsp. white granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. seasoning salt
- 1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 cups short-grain rice, with 4 cups of water, and a tsp. of salt, in a rice cooker or stovetop
- ¼ long English cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
- 1 cup shredded carrot
- Red Pepper Jelly (the sweet heat it provides is fabulous, especially if you don’t have any Korean gochujang chili and garlic sauce or doenjang fermented bean paste).
- Kimchee, if you have it. If not, no worries.
- Seaweed (dried), if you have it. If not, again, no worries.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Start your rice in the rice cooker or stovetop. Everything will be done at about the same time, if you start the rice now.
- Season the pork tenderloin with seasoning salt, ginger, and sugar. Rub it in.
- Sautee the pork tenderloin in a tablespoon of butter or oil in a nonstick pan on medium heat for about 4 minutes per side, or until nicely dark-browned.
- Stick in a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the loin, and in an ovenproof dish, place it in the oven until it reaches 160-170 degrees. Do not go much hotter – you do NOT WANT DRY PORK. I promise it will be done enough to be safe.
- While the meat is cooking, put the butter, soy sauce, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat. Bring to a low boil, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. You may need to add more to taste – it’s supposed to be definably sweet.
- While the sauce is heating, shred carrots and dice the cucumber.
- Put on a small pot to boil, and reduce to simmer. Add vinegar.
- Carefully crack an egg into a small bowl, and ever so gently, slide the egg into the simmering water. This is an easy way to poach the egg. If you are confident that your eggs are very fresh, skip this step and add the egg raw to the bowl at the end. Mixing it in to the hot meat and rice will cook it enough to eat, but some people prefer their eggs more done, so go ahead and poach if you want.
- Once the meat is done, slice into rounds about ½ cm-thick.
- Spoon hot rice into a bowl, and arrange the meat, vegetables, and egg artfully on top. Douse carefully with about a quarter to a third cup of sauce.
- Add a dollop of red pepper jelly (as well as any Korean sauce or seaweed or kimchee you might have. If you have these, you can also leave out the red pepper jelly).
- Just before eating, carefully stir everything together with chopsticks or your fork, and enjoy.
This recipe will feed two people, with enough left over for one lucky person to take it for lunch tomorrow.