I recently was invited to have dinner with a woman who I have admired for years. Her love of food, unique philosophy and passion to give people REAL, CLEAN and SIMPLE food made and instant fan out of me.
I remember sitting in a cozy little restaurant in downtown Austin and feeling at home when I read the words painted on the wall. They read “My mom started this restaurant because she hates to cook. She loved going out to eat (make someone else do the work) but found it tough to find heathy, MSG-free, low-cal balanced meals for prices within daily reach. She felt guilty for feeding us crap and felt sick of being a house wife, so she said–why not open a restaurant for people like me?”
Now I love to cook and I love traditional Korean food just as much as the next girl, but I too shared this realization and passion with Nancy. How can we make the food we love but make it so that it nourishes the body to every last bite. As luck would have it, I read Nancy’s message just as I was embarking on my own food journey. I had recently moved back from Korea and Hawaii (both places had opened my eyes to a world of never-ending good, fresh and flavorful food) and I wanted to bring Austin healthy Korean food. So I too began to take traditional Korean recipes and infuse with local Austin produce and whole-food ingredients.
You can only imagine how honored I felt when Young Kim invited my husband and me to a dinner at Nancy’s Sky Garden in Georgetown! Dinner was amazing. The plate was as colorful as a rainbow, overflowing with fresh greens, bell peppers, carrots, purple cabbage, avocado, and pure LOVE. I felt so connected to this woman simply through the presentation of her food. She is unapologetic and her mission is clear; if you eat her food your tastebuds will be delighted and your body will be nourished.
Today’s recipe is dedicated to Nancy. Her love is represented at her two restaurants: Koriente and Nancy’s Sky Garden. Though her food is not 100% authentic Korean-style, it resembles the food she grew up with on her family’s farm. This food is meant for you to eat with deep thoughts and a happy heart. This food is love.
Recipe for Fresh Mixed Rice: (aka Healthy Bibimbop)
1 cup brown rice cooked, mix with green onions, sesame seeds and 1 tsp tamari
julienned carrots, red bell pepper, and cucumber
shredded red cabbage
blanched green beans
sautéed crimini mushrooms (korean red pepper, honey, sesame seeds, tamari, ginger and lime juice)
Sautéed soy bean sprouts (ginger, sesame oil, korean red pepper, garlic, tamari, 2 tbs veggie stock)
1 1/2 tbs gochujang
Prep all ingredients. Make rice and set aside. Make mushrooms; add all ingredients and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Make soy sprouts; add all ingredients to pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Place kimchi in pan and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Place green beans in pot, add water, bring to boil for 2 minutes, remove and place beans in ice bath.
Pack rice tightly in small bowl. Turn upside down, place down in center of plate, and thump firmly until rice loosens from bowl and falls onto plate in the shape of a dome.
Assemble assorted vegetable around the rice, alternating colors. Add the gochujang and mix thoroughly before eating.