My recent trip to Colorado was a far cry from my last trip to the state. And not just because I got to meet the famed gal behind this Korean Beef Bibimbap Bowl recipe. Or ride ponies, or eat many many epic meals. For all those good times, the contrast is partially thanks to that last trip being quite a doozy.
If you’ve read The Wellness Project book and managed to soak in some of the stories from the Water Works chapter, you may remember that the last time I was in Colorado, I experienced life-threatening dehydration and altitude sickness, which left me under a hypothermia blanket for 24 hours.
The circumstances were outside the reality of normal Colorado tourism. Mainly because I was trapped in the non-reality of reality TV! I knew that this trip would be very different.
We’d be swaddled in the luxury robes of Maven Hotel in Denver and One Ski Hill resort in Breckenridge, and embraced by their beds’ ample pillow tops, instead of plopped on top of a mountain with a sleeping bag and leaky tent. We’d be sipping spiced rum at Breckenridge Distillery and eating Tuscan short rib ragu at Tieghan Gerard’s barn, not foraging in the woods for prickly pear and cattails to go with a can of campfire beans.
But still, despite being aware of the high high’s this trip promised, I was very nervous about how my body would react to the climate. I chugged water in the days leading up to the trip. I packed vitamin C supplements to make sure I was absorbing what I drank upon landing. And I stuffed my pockets with bars just in case there was no gluten-free food to be had on our car trips.
All of this was completely unnecessary, of course. Team Colorado had our back with unfathomable hospitality and every amenity a city mouse bound for the wilderness could ask for.
Upon arrival, we were gifted chic backpacks stuffed with energy chews, gluten-free oat bars, and warm AF socks. They made sure my packed lunch from Mercantile was fully GF and complete with an over the top jar of salted caramel chocolate mousse. And by the time we arrived in Breckenridge for our first foraging hike, I was fully convinced that no aspect of my reality show taping would replay itself on this trip.
Until I got out of the car and saw who our guide was.
Apparently, it’s a small world of Colorado wild edibles! I almost fell over when I saw that our tour would be led my Erica Marciniec of Wild Food Girl, the same gal who showed us how to find prickly pear and cattails for our non-canned sustenance. We had a good laugh and vent session about the circumstances of our prior meeting, and like that last time, I learned a ton about the off-menu bounty to be had on the trail… even though I was happy that what we picked was an added bonus and not my actual meal!
The rest of the weekend was spent shuttling back and forth to Half Baked Harvest HQ, where Tieghan fed us two amazing meals from her new cookbook. Her barn has been a thing of food blogger lore, so I was thrilled to finally see it in person, experience the drool-worthy goat milk hot chocolate, and gawk over her double-sided industrial fridge and walls of props. The space was also complete with gorgeous florals, fall tableware, and my favorite four-legged friends.
When I got home, I turned immediately to the cookbook for more creative weeknight inspiration. First up was this Korean bibimbap recipe with seared beef.
Tieghan put a few signature spins on this traditional dish. First, she used quinoa instead of the usual crispy rice in a clay pot. All the elements came together separately and quickly, which I appreciated. After all, the key to my heart is a tasty condiment and creative garnish. The miso-roasted sweet potatoes, lime-y kale, and spicy tomatillo sauce definitely hit the spot in both camps.
Don’t be intimidated by all the steps or elements—this dinner comes together in less than 45 minutes. Here’s how I’d tackle it: if you’re not using leftover quinoa (or rice), get that on the stove first. Next, marinate the beef, get the sweet potatoes in the oven, and massage the kale. While the veggies are cooking, sear the steak. While the steak is cooking, measure out the ingredients for the tomatillo sauce. As the steak rests, broil the tomatillos (it only takes a few minutes), and get the rest of your garnishes together (I didn’t have a few of them and it was still epic). Finally, fry your eggs, slice your steak and assemble the bowls. BOOM.
I hope you enjoyed taking a walk down my Colorado memory lane as much as I did—and almost as much as you’re about to enjoy this Korean bibimbap recipe. For more delicious meals and stunning photos, make sure to pick up a copy of Half Baked Harvest cookbook!
From one wild food healthy hedonist, to another,
Korean Beef Bibimbap Bowls with Quinoa, Miso Sweet Potatoes and Spicy Tomatillo Sauce
You can get away with halving the marinade, since it makes a lot, or skipping the tomatillo sauce – though that would be a shame! Also, feel free to use rice instead of quinoa if you want a more traditional bowl. I added a few notes about where to make the eggs if you’re making the recipe start to finish and not starting with those elements pre-made. I would advise starting by getting the quinoa on the stove if you’re doing that from scratch as well.
For the beef:
For the sweet potatoes:
For the Bibimbap:
MARINATE THE BEEF: In a large zip-lock bag or bowl, combine the tamari, vinegar, honey, gochujang, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. Add the steak and toss to coat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
MAKE THE SWEET POTATOES. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil, miso and salt. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly charred and tender.
COOK THE BEEF. Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. When just smoking, add the steak and cook until your desired doneness, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. As the steak cooks, spoon some of the marinade on top for extra flavor. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes, then slice into strips. While the steak is resting, pour the marinade into a small saucepan (or the steak pan) and bring to a simmer. Reduce for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
MEANWHILE, MAKE KALE. Put the kale in a large bowl and add the lime juice and salt. Massage with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the kale has wilted a bit. Prep the remaining ingredients for the bibimbap garnishes.
MAKE THE SAUCE. Preheat the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the tomatillos on the prepared sheet and place under the broiler. Broil, turning once, for 3 to 5 minutes until mostly charred. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor with the gochujang, soy sauce, vinegar, and lime juice. Pulse until smooth. (Sauce can be made in advance and stored for up to a week in the fridge).
FRY THE EGGS. Here are some instructions.
ASSEMBLE THE BOWLS. Divide the quinoa among 4 bowls and top evenly with the sliced steak and sweet potatoes. Arrange the carrots, kale and fried eggs on top. Drizzle with the sauce and serve the rest on the side.