If you are adventurous, yet intolerant of spicy food, I have some suggestion for you: Ancho chili. In this recipe, I use Ancho chili powder and avocado to add a small dose of Mexican flavors to the traditional bibimbap. Seemingly small changes can bring fresh excitement to things that are all too familiar to us, helping us discover something new.
The Ancho refers to the dried Poblano, a mild chili pepper originating in Mexico. What is unique about the Ancho is its fruity sweetness and very mild spiciness. In fact, this is the only chili pepper that I can use quite generously without worrying about getting the unbearable amount of heat on a bite.
Avocado goes well with the Ancho chili. As a superfood, avocado contains 20 vitamins and minerals. It is rich in fiber and oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. Being fatty, avocado helps us increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants such as carotenoids from plant food. It also increases the level of HDL cholesterol while reducing the level of LDL cholesterol, thus improving our overall cholesterol profile. Avocado is also rich in antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are associated with reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Pairing the Ancho chili and avocado has turned out to be a happy marriage in terms of their boosted flavors and nutritional profiles. Due to the mild spiciness of this "Mexicanized" bibimbap, kids may enjoy this dish more than traditional bibimbap.
Do you wonder whether this dish tastes as great as its nutritional value? No need to guess. Let's find out.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings
Half a sweet onion (thinly sliced)
One medium carrot (julienned)
2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
Half pound of cabbages (cut into bite-sized pieces)
Half pound of baby portobello mushrooms (sliced)
A red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
A quarter-pound of seafood mixture (chopped squid, chopped octopus, scallops, mussels, and shrimps; you can buy a package of uncooked, snap-frozen seafood mixture at any Asian grocery market.)
Scallions (cut into 2-inch pieces)
Ancho chili powder (I suggest that you buy the smallest package just to see if you like this spice.)
How to keep a cut avocado fresh for a week
I cannot finish a whole avocado in one sitting. But, once an avocado is cut, its browning begins due to the activation of polyphenol oxidase in avocado, which converts phenolic compounds into quinones. When quinones are polymerized to form polyphenols, they are manifested by their brown color of the avocado flesh. We can slow down this process by minimizing the exposure of the cut avocado to oxygen and keeping it in the refrigerator. If you wrap the leftover avocado tightly in aluminum foil and keep it in an air-tight container at low temperature, you can enjoy the leftover avocado for up to a week.
You need to defrost the seafood mixture by taking a portion out of the package and immersing it in water. Now it is time to cut all the other vegetables as specified above.
If you are done with chopping and slicing, you are ready to roll now. Heat up a stir-fry pan over medium-high heat with one teaspoon of oil on the pan.
Once the pan is hot enough, stir-fry the sliced onion first. When they become somewhat translucent, add the julienned carrots to the pan. Stir-fry them for a minute or so. Now add celery and cabbages to the pan. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt over the vegetable mixture, mix everything well, and cover the pan. Lower the heat to the medium level and let the water coming out of the vegetables steam them for two minutes.
While steaming the vegetables in the pan, rinse and drain the seafood mixture to remove excess water from it.
Open the lid and raise the heat to the medium-high level. Add the sliced mushrooms, red bell pepper, and half a teaspoon of salt to the vegetable mixture in the pan. Stir-fry it until the mushrooms become cooked down and add the seafood mixture to the pan. Continue to stir-fry everything for one or two minutes until shrimps turn pink.
Turn off the heat, add 2 teaspoons of ancho chili powder or as much as you like, chopped garlic, ginger, and scallions to the pan, and mix everything well. Season the final mixture with salt and pepper to your taste.
Place a portion of cooked rice in a deep serving bowl and serve the vegetable/seafood mixture over rice. You can add slices of avocado to the serving bowl, as shown in the picture above. Then, mix everything well in a bowl. Now it is time to dig in...