The dolsot bowl is synonymous with Korean dining - almost every traditional Korean restaurant menu is replete with stews and rice dishes served from the searingly hot stone bowls. Soups and jiggae stews are served still bubbling at the table, and if you listen carefully you can hear the rice crackling against the hot stone in bibimbap rice dishes. Here are four ideas for what to do you with your dolsot bowl.
Dolsot Bibimbap, of course!
Bibimbap or bibim-bap is one of Korea’s most famous meals. ‘Bibim’ means mixed, ‘bap’ means rice, and the dish is exactly that – a layer of rice, with meat and vegetable garnishes, stirred together at the table.
Bibimbap can be served in a searingly hot stone bowl (a dolsot) making it crisp, other times a large brass or stainless steel bowl. Recipes vary from region to region, though the dish is instantly recognisable by the large bowl and colourful ingredients. See our beginner's guide to bibimbap here.
Dolsot bibimbap topped with a fried egg
Cooking Korean 5-grain rice
Five grain rice is a special dish. Odd numbers are propitious, and the different grains in the dish are chosen for their health-giving properties. For example red beans are thought to be good for weight loss, black beans for shiny hair, and rice to heal the stomach - 'food is medicine and medicine is food'. Beans and pulses are cooked first in a saucepan, and the rice pre-soaked. When all the individual grains are prepared, they are added to the dolsot in order of cooking time over a medium flame. Cover and leave to simmer until done.
Healthy Korean five grain rice cooked in a dolsot bowl
Make a doenjang jiggae stew
Stews are hugely popular in Korea - they are cooling in summer and warming in winter. A good portion of a restaurant menu may be devoted to stews or jiggae, as they are better known. Jiggae are served in the centre of a table with steamed rice on the side, and a number of banchan vegetables side dishes, plus kimchi of course.
Restaurant menu in the street - with stews served in dolsot bowl
The famous Korean soybean paste, similar to Japanese miso - is a popular umami-rich soup base. The base of doenjang jiggae is prepared from a vegetable stock made in advance, with Korean leeks or spring onions, daikon or white radish, kombu sheets, and green and red chilli. The strained vegetable stock is added to the dolsot over a low flame, along with small cubes of potato, courgette and mushrooms - added in order of required cooking time. A spoonful of doenjang is stirred in towards the end of cooking.
Doenjang jigae stew - a light and hearty vegetable broth enriched with umami-rich doenjang soybean paste
Cook ssamgyetang - chicken & gingseng soup
This is the ultimate Summer dish in South Korea. On the hottest day of the year, customers will queue for 2-3 hours at restaurants across Seoul waiting for their chance to eat the hot soup. To make samgyetang, a small chicken is poached directly in the dolsot bowl in an aromatic stock, rich in energy-giving ginseng.
Samgyetang - ginseng and chicken soup, poached in a dolsot bowl
If you're cooking traditional Korean food, make sure you've got the essential store cupboard staple, gochujang. Buy it here now!