A delicious, easy recipe for making Korean dolsot bibimbap at home!

I love a good massage. To me it’s one of the most luxurious, special treats I can buy for myself. If I ever won the lottery the first thing I’d purchase would be my own personal masseuse. Seriously. So when my friend Shannon told me about a place called Spa World, I knew I had to check it out immediately. I didn’t quite realize what I was in for. All Shannon told me was “it’s really naked there but you get used to it.”

Spa World is like another universe. It’s located in the middle of an unassuming strip mall not far from the highway and looks like at one point it might have been a Kmart. It’s massive. You walk inside, pay an entry fee at the front desk and are handed what looks like an orange prison uniform. You’re given a special key that can be worn around your wrist and used to pay for services. Your shoes are exchanged for flip flops in a locker that cannot be opened again until you settle up your bill. That’s right, they hold your shoes hostage. You walk down a long dark hallway with your wrist key and prison uniform until you reach a fork where women go to the left and men go to the right. And once you’re in the women’s area, it is indeed very naked. There’s a locker room separated from a very large area that houses an assortment of hot tubs and pools of various temperatures. Before walking into the pool you can grab a hand towel (there are no full sized towels in Spa World). To the immediate left is a long row of showers. To the far right are five older Asian women in undergarments exfoliating naked women and then covering them with baby oil. I’m not kidding. You have to book this treatment a couple hours in advance.

This all sounds pretty weird, right? It is. It’s really weird. But you get used to all the boobs pretty quickly and let me say this- nothing makes me come to terms with my own body issues faster than being in a large bath house with 100 other naked women of various ages and sizes. It’s oddly liberating.

So what’s the point of the orange prison uniform? Well, that’s for the unisex area. After drying off from the hot tub with your hand towel, you put on your uniform and wander down another long hallway into a huge room that feels reminiscent of a basketball court. There are giant fans on the ceiling. Lots of lounge chairs. A few flat screen TVs. There’s a staircase leading up to the second floor where you can get massage and reflexology treatments that hurt like hell. And then there’s the restaurant.

A delicious, easy recipe for making Korean dolsot bibimbap at home!

This restaurant is the first place I tried dolsot bibimbap, a dish that I have become obsessed with. It’s a very simple meal- rice, beef, vegetables, egg and a delicious Korean chili paste called Gochujang. The dolsot is a hot stone pot that makes the rice crunchy and causes all of the flavors to waft upward with steam. Traditionally this dish is served with a raw egg which is then stirred into the other ingredients. The heat from the stone cooks the egg. But Spa World serves it with a sunny side up egg on top and that’s how I’ve decided to prepare it at home.

Please note- you do not need the dolsot to prepare this dish. All of the ingredients are actually cooked before placing them in the stone pot so you can just prepare this recipe and place the ingredients in a good old fashioned bowl. The only special ingredient you really do want is the Gochujang. It has a very unique flavor that makes this dish special and Sriracha won’t cut it. You can find Gochujang chili paste at Asian markets or you can order it online (I’ve included links at the bottom of this post).

A delicious, easy recipe for making Korean dolsot bibimbap at home!

Dolsot Bibimbap
 
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • soy sauce
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 6-7 ounces stir fry beef
  • pinch of sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil (or any neutral flavored high heat oil)
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 cups packed spinach
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup bean sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 eggs, preferably pasteurized
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • Gochujang chili paste
Instructions
  1. Rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms in hot water until soft. Drain and then toss with ½ tablespoon soy sauce and ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over high heat with just enough oil to coat the bottom. Toss the beef with 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of garlic, a pinch of sugar and some black pepper. Sauté the beef for 1-2 minutes (it will cook very fast), then toss with 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and set aside.
  3. Line up 3 bowls to hold the vegetables separately after they're cooked. Sauté the carrots for 30 seconds with a little more oil (if needed) and ½ teaspoon of garlic. Place the carrots in one of the reserved bowls. Sauté the zucchini for 30 seconds with ½ teaspoon garlic. Place the zucchini in the second reserved bowl and toss with ½ teaspoon sesame oil. Turn the heat down to low. Wilt the spinach with 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and ½ teaspoon sesame oil. Place in the third bowl.
  4. If using dolsot bowls, cover the insides liberally with oil (if using regular bowls, skip to the next step). Divide the rice evenly between the two bowls and then place small mounds of the beef, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, spinach and bean sprouts on top of the rice. Top with toasted sesame seeds. Place the bowls on the stove over high heat and allow them to get hot. Once the rice begins to make a crackling noise, allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. If using a regular bowl, divide the rice evenly between the two bowls and then place small mounds of the beef, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, spinach and bean sprouts on top of the rice. Top with toasted sesame seeds.
  6. Cook the egg sunny side up on a lightly oil skillet and place on top of the beef and vegetables.
  7. Serve with Gochujang.
Notes
All of these amounts should be viewed as a guide, not set in stone. You can use less rice, more vegetables, etc. Many bibimbap recipes also include daikon radish. I've omitted it here but you can add it using the same method I've described for the carrots and zucchini.

Tools I Used

Dolsot Granite Stone Bowls
Sunchang Gochujang
Silicone Egg Pancake Ring
All-Clad Stainless Steel 3-Quart Saute Pan

More Asian Recipes

Savory Simple – Asian Beef Noodle Salad
Savory Simple – Noodles with Tofu Stir-Fry
Savory Simple – Sweet and Spicy Asian Tofu
Just One Cookbook – Honey Soy Sauce Chicken
Rasa Malaysia – Tom Kha Gai Recipe (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
Damn Delicious – Mongolian Beef

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Comments

  1. beautiful photography and AWESOME storytelling! I would be a total massage junkie if I could afford it. It’s seriously my fave thing in the whole wide world. Ive never done something like this but it sounds liberating and great!

  2. Jean | Lemons & Anchovies says:

    That fried egg is perfect and the entire dish, too. Your images are always so beautiful.

  3. I hope you enjoyed your first Korean spa experience! I haven’t been one for ages and you pointed out what I was missing. :) Did you try any ‘sauna egg’ while you were there? It’s definitely a must try item. Anyway…your Bibimbap looks lovely! Is that your own Dolsot? You must be really serious about Bibimbap. :) Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  4. This looks amazing! I still haven’t had enough bibimbap bowls in my life. And that spa world place!!! Agh, I just visited the website. Such a wacky looking place, I feel like I should get my mom a gift certificate there just so that I can hear about it later ;) Or you know, go there myself.

  5. I would kill for massage these days! Sounds so nice! Life has been crazy!

    I love this dish. That egg with these flavors is perfect! And these photos. Stunning! I need to get my stuff together and shoot you an email about photo stuff already! I will soon!

  6. MY FAVORITE and always order this. I can eat it everyday if I can… thank you for the recipe, and thank you for the link for the stone bowl! I’m all set for homemade version thanks to you!!

    Thank you so much for including my soy sauce chicken recipe. xoxo :)

  7. Anything Korean is alright in my book. Love your delicious version, and pictures are so tempting…haven’t made bibimbap since last week..thanks for yummy reminder. Oh and I wish we had spa like that around here. :D

  8. I love that Korean hot sauce – so good especially with all the rice dishes like this!

  9. LOVE seeing this recipe on your blog!!! I love that Korean food is gaining more popularity!! Bibimbap is one of my favorites and a staple for me. . your dolsot bibimbap looks fabulous! Happy Holidays, Jen!

  10. We were in China about 10 years ago on business and our host took us to a bath house such as you describe, right down to the to tiny towel. It was very disconcerting, to say the least, especially as no one there spoke English! No restaurant in our place. No pool for the women as they are considered “unclean”. Otherwise very similar. A fantastic experience.

  11. You just don’t know how happy this makes me! I cannot wait to make this!

  12. Love that you tried your hand at Korean food! Our version of this is a perennial favorite in our household — and agreed, the gochujang is crucial! And so funny that you tried a Korean spa. I absolutely love them, but the first time I definitely felt a little like I was in a prison mixed with an asylum. Haha.

  13. I used to encounter a lot of nakedness when I took my kids to the local heath centre for swimming lessons-lots of older women would wonder around a dressing room sans clothes. The interesting thing is they never seemed to be in a hurry to get dressed. I would really like them to hurry and cover up but they always seemed to find more important things to do before they put their clothes on. They ARE liberated. The recipe looks simple and delicious! I’ve never even heard of that dish before but really would love to try. Anything else I can use instead of that sauce? I am doubtful I can find it.

    • Unfortunately it won’t technically be bibimbap without the gochujang. If there aren’t any Asian grocers in your area and you want to try it, I’ve included a link to where you can buy it online!

      • England isn’t aways the easiest place to find authentic Asian ingredients unless you really know where to search or it’s Indian, then it’s everywhere. I managed to find it on Amazon. :-) Thank you.

  14. You’re making me think I need a massage! As per usual, this is a stunning dish my dear!

  15. I actually think that place sounds great, but I rather like being naked, doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it would bother other people if I was naked all the time!
    And that looks like one fantastic bowl of goodness.

  16. Jen,
    You’ve reminded me of my first time visiting an onsen in Japan. It was definitely a fish-out-of-water experience for me (the tiny plastic stools that we all sat on to scrub ourselves underneath a 3 ft high shower nozzle were just the tip) but not as crazy as had I not just moved from Germany and the schwimmbads there (with coed naked saunas). At least the towels were full size.
    Thanks for giving me a brilliant idea for another gift for my spouse *before* I take my son to sled hockey down by the Cincy Asian market!

  17. This looks absolutely fantastic. I will definitely be trying this. You have a really great blog here. Simon C

  18. You have incredibly good photography. This is insane. The second I saw the bibimbap I was incited to check this out but as soon as I saw the photos I gazed at them longingly for a good minute. Love love love!

  19. I’ve never had a massage or bibimbap, but I’d love to try both! This looks like a wonderful healthy meal.

  20. I’ve been really annoyed at Pinterest for putting pins from non-friends on my home page, but then I clicked on this and I’m not so mad anymore… My brother lives in Korea and when my family visited in 2010 we had bibimbap along with several other incredible meals. We also went to a “naked spa.” Reading about your experience brought back great memories! The most bizarre thing to me was that a TON of naked women were sitting around brushing their teeth. You could buy a toothbrush and toothpaste at a little counter in the locker room. The counter also sold snacks, just in case you wanted to eat candy naked and then brush (haha). Do you have any recommendations for Korean restaurants in NOVA? I grew up there and my parents still live in Springfield.

  21. I love the nakedness storytelling! I have never been to one of these spas but I’m not sure if I could handle all the boobs.

    And this dolsot bibimbap – love it! I actually haven’t tried the homemade version – Jason’s mom’s version is absolutely to die for. Can’t wait to try your version though. I haven’t had this in several months!

  22. My Mom has been to a Korean spa and told me about it. Now you’re the second person I have to try it. It’s funny I’ve been scouting out new Korean recipes to try out! Thanks for the push!

  23. It does not only has a cool name, but also looks awesome.

  24. This looks amazing! Korean food is seriously one of my favorites and bibimbap wouldn’t be the same without a fried egg!

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