I shamefully had no idea what bibimbap was until 2016. I actually first heard of it on Masterchef, where the weekly challenge was to re-create this mystical bowl without any information/instructions from the judges as to what the dish actually was. At first, one of the top contenders was asked to step up front and Chef Edward Lee asked him if he knew what the bowl was, and the contestant did in fact know and quickly replied “bibimbap”. Bibim-what now?
I remember being perplexed by the fact that I had no idea what they all were cooking (being the Asian cuisine fanatic that I am), all I knew was that this clay pot dish looked bomb. I was kind of overwhelmed after In finished watching the episode because in all honesty, most contestants failed quite badly at this challenge. I quickly researched the basis of bibimbap and realized that it is not that difficult to create after all. Now fast forward to about 1 and a half year later, and I’ve been resorting to these types of meal quite often because they are :
1. Easily veganized;
2. Extremely satiating;
3. Can be made from whatever vegetable you like (or simply have on hand); and
4. Can be made as meal-prep as long as you don’t mix the gochujang sauce with the rest of the bowl until right before eating/serving. If you have no idea what gochujang is, check out my resources page!
So, full disclaimer here, this is in no way traditional Korean bibimbap… First, it is not made in a clay pot. Second, it contains no animal products. Traditionally, bibimbap is entirely made in one clay pot, from cooking the rice to adding all of the remaining layers of ingredients depending on their cooking times needed (it’s a science really) and finally, traditionally, one or more of these ingredients are either beef, pork or chicken and topped with a boiled or fried egg. Now, clearly the recipe I will be presenting to you today will not contain any of those, which is a win-win in my mind since it’s tastier, healthier, and contributes to saying lives of animals and saving the environment.
Although far from traditional, my recipe still contains key components from traditional bibimbap, such as the same base of rice, a mixture of cooked and raw vegetables all mixed with this delicious gochujang sauce. You’ll fall in love with this sauce, it is also great as a spring roll or sushi dipping sauce (for this, I usually add more soy sauce and water to thin it out). Finally, if you have some time on your hands, I would recommend toasting the rice in a frying pan prior to assembling. This will replicate the authentic clay pot method since this tends to toast the rice at the bottom of the pot, which is quite delicious. To do this, either place the rice directly on a non-stick frying pan or with a bit of sesame oil. Cook on low for about 5 minutes and then place in your serving bowl.
- White rice, sushi rice or brown rice
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar (optional)
- Baked or pan-fried tofu
- Steamed Kale
- Green onions or shallots
- 2 tbs water (or more)
- 1 tbs gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- ½ tbs maple syrup (substitutes: 1 tbs agave, 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp sugar)
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Sesame seeds
- Cook the rice as per the package’s instructions.
- While the rice is cooking, prep all of the remaining ingredients. You can decide to steam, fry, bake or even leave the ingredients raw. Anything goes!
- Once the rice is cooked; you can go ahead and plate it or take an extra step and pan-fry it for a few minutes on low heat (with a little bit of sesame oil or directly on a non-stick pan). If you like the taste of rice wine vinegar in rice (like sushi rice from sushi restaurants) add it in before pan-frying the rice.
- While the rice is frying, whip all of the sauce ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.
- Layer the bowl as you want with all of the ingredients and place a big dollop of the gochujang sauce.
- Mix well and enjoy!