Ever since becoming a mother of two under two, I find I have less time to cook than ever before. My diet has taken a big hit as a result, as I've been relying on takeout and delivery more than I'd care to admit. As someone who loves cooking, eating clean, and also wants to run a more minimal household, this upsets me. Ideally, we should be meal planning and cooking/eating every meal at home but this is a skill I'm still developing as I juggle my duties as a mother, which include (but are not limited to) frequently nursing my son and pumping for my toddler, and my duties as homemaker, keeping our home tidy, clean, and orderly. Come August, when my maternity leave is up, returning to my full-time teaching position will be added to that list.
Thankfully, my interest in Korean cooking led me to discover how quick, simple, and satisfying many Korean dishes are. What I love about many of these recipes is how they emphasize a variety of vegetables and whole grains over animal products. Although many recipes, including the one I will be sharing with you today, traditionally include some meat and eggs, it's very easy to convert these recipes into plant-dense vegan meals due to the heavier emphasis Eastern cuisine places on plant foods. Unlike a lot of Western cuisine, the meats in many of these dishes act as flavor agents but do not comprise of the substance of the meal. The fact that such recipes lend themselves to easy personalization means you can tailor them to your family's specific tastes by changing measurements or swapping out one ingredient for another. It's almost impossible to "mess up" one of these meals so you don't have to worry about winding up with something completely inedible for dinner if you don't have the same exact vegetables on hand or use precisely the same measurements.
"Bibim guksu" was the first Korean meal I learned to prepare. It is a simple dish of noodles and spicy red pepper sauce. Although it is usually served with thin wheat noodles called "somyeon," I've prepared this with whatever noodles we have on hand, from spaghetti to ramen, so if you don't have thin wheat noodles just use what you have in your pantry. There are a few ingredients on the list that you will need to secure beforehand in order to achieve the vinegary, salty-sweet spiciness that makes the flavor of bibim guksu so distinct: gochugaru, which is a spicy red pepper powder (not the same as American red pepper flakes!), and gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste. Without these ingredients, you won't be able to make the sauce. These are the only two ingredients you will not be able to swap out because there are no comparable alternatives that I know of in Western markets. You may, however, be able to find these two items at your local oriental market. If you don't have access to an oriental market, follow the links in the recipe for information on where you can buy these.
La Maestra's Bibim guksu Recipe
About la maestra:
Bienvenidos! Bem-vindos! I'm Ali, a World Language maestra from Miami who went from hard-core maximalist to soft-core minimalist upon becoming a mother. The flexible form of minimalism that I practice, domestic minimalism, allows me to run my household efficiently and foster a home free of clutter and full of joy for my whole family. This is where I record my experiences as a wife, working mother of two, and homemaker. Thanks for stopping by.