Nicole Berrie's Quinoa Bibimbap
2 cups raw spinach
3 large carrots, julienned
2 cups of shitake mushrooms
1 cup of brean sprouts
1 zucchini, julienned
2 cups of quinoa, cooked as directed on package
1 tablespoon of Korean red pepper paste
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Fine sea salt
Prepare quinoa as directed. Set aside.
Blanch all vegetables in separate pots so they are tender but not too soft. Set each vegetable aside in separate small bowls.
Add a teaspoon of sesame oil, sea salt and sesame seeds to each vegetable. Massage with hands so the seasoning is evenly distributed.
In a deep soup bowl, add one cup of cooked quinoa. Arrange a handful of each of the vegetables around the perimeter of the bowl. In the center, add a dollop of the red pepper paste. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve hot.
Your mother is Korean and your father is Jewish. What role did food play in your childhood and how was it used to connect you to your mother and father’s culture?
Food played such a big role growing up and the mix of dishes throughout my childhood really shaped the way I approach nourishing myself and my family. Whether it was my mom packing us kim bap (seaweed and rice) for school lunch or celebrating the high holidays with matzo ball soup or bagels and lox on the weekends, both cultures are about showing love with abundant food. Whether it was for celebration, mourning, rejoicing or comforting, I’ll always remember the love and care my parents put into the meals they made.
Now that you are a mother, how do you approach food in your own family and sharing that culture with your children?
It’s really second nature. I make the things my mom made me when I was little. We often make jap chae, a sweet potato noodle dish that naturally has tons of veggies, the kids love their seaweed and rice, and my daughter has been known to try a little kimchi here and there. I use the trick my mom did, washing it in a glass of water at the table to make it less spicy.
Do you have any favorite recipes or comfort foods from your childhood that you have extended to your own family?
The jap chae is definitely a crowd pleaser for the whole family! One of my biggest comfort foods is seaweed soup with rice cakes and we keep them in the freezer to make on chilly days.
What does a typical family meal look like?
We’ll always make a huge salad for my husband and I, and the kids “salad” usually consists of avocado and cucumbers. Then we’ll either do a big pasta (I blend steamed spinach into the marinara sauce), roast or air dried potatoes and steamed broccoli. Other days it’s rice noodles with tamari and ghee or a big veggie fried rice with baked Japanese yam.
As the founder of Bonberi Mart and someone who focuses on food and wellness for a living, what do you think it was about your childhood that led you to that passion?
I feel very lucky that my parents passed on their love and joy of food to me. There was excitement surrounding meals whether it was home cooked or me traveling with my parents to far flung places. I’ve taken that passion for food with me and would never have thought it would turn into a career but now I take joy in feeding others whether it’s through my recipes or at Bonberi Mart and it’s the most rewarding thing!