Breakfast Bibimbap Bowl

"You only talked about my bike," Shannon said the other day while we prepped food in the still-sweltering heat of the "cold" kitchen. Shannon, up to her elbows in sordid-looking jars of egg yolk and squid ink, pulses pasta dough in the Robot Coup while I fill a pastry bag with beer caramel and try to keep sweat out of my eyes.
"Out of all the things that could have made an impression," she continues, "all you remembered was my cute bike. I am more than my cute blue bike!"

She is referring, of course, to the very first blog post I ever wrote about the people at my workplace. And she's joking, of course. She quickly follows up by telling me I don't have to write about her if I don't want to. But I do want to. See, in that post I mentioned Shannon...well, more precisely, I mentioned her bike. At that point I had no idea that my coworkers would read my blog, nor that some of them would become actual friends. And her teasing comment reminds me that after several months of working alongside this crew, cycling through several dishwashers, finally getting the proper oven, and otherwise acclimating to the new life we share, there's a whole lot more to share with you about my compatriots in this kitchen.
We'll start with Shannon - Shannon is the hot-line queen. She mans the fryer, is the genius behind all the pasta, several of the apps, and every amuse bouche that comes out of the kitchens onto your tables.That tagliatelle? Shannon. That papperdelle? Shannon. That chili-braised octopus with torched yogurt? Shannon. She's hilarious and crazy and sometimes rides one of the hard-to-find Bird scooters to work and then lets the servers and mixologist ride it on her reservation and then hides it someplace hard to find and hopes nobody rents it out from under her nose while she's on the clock. Shannon has a perfectly fat cat who just lost one pound, and then one perfectly normal sized cat. She has incredible retro-modern taste in interior decor, a pretty knife, likes her level of spiciness hot hot hot, and knows absolutely everyone in Norfolk's Ghent neighborhood. On the subject of movie snacks, she and I think similarly and we have spent several afternoons together on our days off, seeing musicals at the Naro Theatre. Shannon is fearless and funny and knows the words to the more obscure songs in Les Miserables. We get along well, mostly because we are both crazy enough to cope with (and enjoy) each other's crazy. Also because we have worked through our issues with who gets to use the Kitchen Aid when, trading off mid-project when the need arises.

So last week when I decided I wanted to go to an international grocery store (and the thought of going alone intimidated me because of all Words I Can't Pronounce) I knew that Shannon was the one I wanted to bring with me. I feel like if you were ever going to be stranded in a country in East Asia, say, and didn't know a word of English or the exchange rate and didn't have any money to exchange anyway, and furthermore didn't know how to say "Where are the bathrooms?" but you were allowed to bring one person with you, you'd want that person to be a Shannon. She'd know what to do. She might steal a rickshaw, or mouth off to the policemen, or suggest getting drunk on regionally-produced alcohol, but whatever it was it would probably work out because it was Shannon's idea. Not that she's a careful person - not at all - but she's a great one. I'm so glad she is part of our kitchen and I'm also so glad she didn't have plans. We met at the grocery store and spent the afternoon eating baby octopus and sweet, smoky short-rib in the literally-named "Eating Corner," racing to grab fresh curry and keffir lime leaves, browsing the aisles, and filling an entire shopping cart with things we "needed." I took Shannon's advice on almost everything because that girl can cook. Thus, gochujang, a jar of tiny shrimps, peanut marzipan, rambutans, fresh mandarins, peeled garlic, pine salt, sweet soy sauce, white miso, and host of other intriguing purchases came home with me and have been informing my hasty breakfasts and dinners ever since. Next week is the Indian market. I can hardly wait.

This breakfast bowl is 100% inspired by Shannon and our trip to the international grocery. I have come to love gochujang sauce over the years and finally had the ingredients on hand to make it myself! This bibimbap breakfast bowl is not too hot, but just spicy enough that it is a fun kick-start to a busy morning. The fact that it is topped with fresh veggies and can be made with rice leftover from another meal or cooked at the beginning of the week also makes it a breakfast choice that is almost as quick as a smoothie. Gotta pack those veggies into the front of your day too, ya know! Also, apologies for only offering you an iPhone photo of my bowl - it was that kind of week, and I figured you'd accept it without too much of a fuss. Love y'all!

Breakfast Bibimbap Bowl
serves 1

- for the bowl -
1 cup hot rice (use dinner leftovers or cook rice according to package instructions. I prefer white basmati rice for this dish)
1 soft-boiled or sunny-side-up egg
thinly-sliced cucumbers
julienned carrots
1/2 avocado, cut into slices
fresh baby bok choi or baby spinach
- for gochujang sauce -
2 tablespoons Korean chili paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, microplaned or crushed
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sunflower oil

  1. While egg is soft-boiling or frying, whisk together gochujang sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Assemble the bibimbap by scooping rice into a bowl and topping with the soft-boiled or fried egg. Arrange the fresh vegetables around the egg and top with the gochujang sauce. Enjoy hot!

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