Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book Review: Bee-bim bop

UPDATE: Some web searchers have ended up here looking for a bi bim bap (bee-bim bop) recipe. My actual recipe, however, is on another post, so here's a link. The pics below might still help though.

Several weeks ago, I was sitting in the children's book section of Border's with B and I looked up to see a book called "Bee-bim bop" staring at me. This was just a couple weeks after the discussion here about the dish. So I immediately grabbed it to give it a try. Bee-bim bop, the picture book, is by Linda Sue Park and Ho Baek Lee, Park being an American author and Lee an illustrator and publisher in Korea. I was hooked by the easy, fun rhymes:

Almost time for supper
Rushing to the store
Mama buys the groceries-
More, Mama, more!

Hurry, Mama, hurry
Gotta shop shop shop
Hungry hungry hungry
for some BEE-BIM BOP!

The book is very simple with the girl protagonist hanging around her mother and exhorting her to finish the bee-bim bop.

There's some humor as well. Later in the kitchen:

Spinach, sprouts, and carrots
Each goes in a pan
Let me pour the water in-
yes, I know I can!

Sorry, Mama, sorry
Gotta mop mop mop
Hungry - in a hurry
for some BEE-BIM BOP

The book finishes with the whole family rushing in, giving thanks, and chowing down. The text is then followed by a two page recipe for making your own Bee-bim bop. It's very simple and enjoyable and it did inspire B to declare that he loved bee-bim bop too and to help me make it. When it was done of course, I think he ate the rice and beef and left all those vegies sitting there. Oh well. Anyway, we did take pictures of the process this time, so here you go.

First up, all the ingredients ready to go. That's sesame oil in the big tin. I'm also marinating the beef in red wine and soy, just as a way to use up some wine we had laying around. I don't think I will do it again.

After you cook everything up and put in in a bowl, it looks like this without the egg (note the yummy gochu jang paste):

And with the egg on there:

Of course, this was the time consuming version. If I was busy, I would have gone to Palama, the big Korean supermarket down the street.

And grabbed stuff from this bar:

However, if I didn't know what any of this stuff is (which is largely the case for me), I would have just gotten the Bi Bim Bap To Go package:

(And yes a fellow patron did ask me what I was doing taking pictures of the food bar. I said I was trying to teach people about bi bim bap. She then pointed out that I could just pick up the express pack.)

So there you go. If you compare the Palama vegetables to mine, you will see I've Americanized it a fair bit. I mostly use bi bim bap to get rid of straggling foods.

Returning to Linda Sue Park, she is probably best known in children's lit because her novel "A Single Shard" won the Newberry Medal just a couple years ago. I picked it up as well, but I haven't finished it yet. It's the story of an orphan boy in Korea in the 12 century who learns to make traditional pottery. I am enjoying it; it's just that whenever I have a free moment, I feel obligated to read an article. I did some Amazon searching on Ms. Park as well, and she is quite prolific with a lot of interesting books out there. Another I want to pick up is titled, "When My Name Was Keoko." It's the story of a girl in WWII living through the Japanese occupation of Korea when there was a systematic attempt to remove Korean culture and language and replace it with Japanese, including giving everyone Japanese names. And so our protagonist Sun-hee gets designated as Keoko.

Linda Sue Park indeed seems very busy looking at all her titles, and I was amused by one reviewer, who sounds remarkably like she could be Park's agent, "As far as I can ascertain, Linda Sue Park does not sleep. I have good strong evidence for this. Since 2004 this woman has single-handed churned out more picture books, pieces of historical fiction, and fantasy novellas than any person dare count. She wins Newbery awards, brings Korean-American families to the foreground of kiddie lit and with "Bee-bim Bop!" the woman even has a storytime picture book to her name. This is no mean feat. Coming up with a storytime picture book is one thing. Coming up with a storytime picture book that is actually enjoyable to read aloud is another entirely."

Find her books here:
Bee-bim bop
A single shard
When my name was Keoko


Church Lady said...

I loved the book "A Single Shard." It's beautiful on many levels. Well-written, engaging, historically accurate. I gave it to someone but need to buy another for my youngest to read.

SzélsőFa said... bee bim bop actually a dish's name?

I almost never buy prepared food. But then, I have time to make it on my own.

Ello said...

Yeah I really like her, My name was Keoko was very good too. I love bee bim bop and I love that you make it! I still do the prepackaged stuff but it still tastes darn good to me!