What is bibimbap?
Bibimbap (비빔밥) is a large bowl of rice topped with an array of individually prepared vegetables and meat and served with a gochujang (고추장) sauce. Bibim means mixing, and bap means rice. The mixing usually happens at the table by the diner.
Once you mix the vegetables, meat, and rice with a spicy gochujang sauce, you can enjoy a delicious harmony of different flavors and textures with every bite. It’s one of my absolute favorite Korean comfort foods! Hope you enjoy it at home with this easy to follow bibimbap recipe.
Bowls for bibimbap
You can simply serve bibimbap in a large bowl at room temperature. However, when it’s served in a sizzling hot stone bowl (dolsot), your dining experience will rise to the next level. The hot stone bowl gives the bottom layer of rice a nice golden crust, and the rest of the bowl sizzles while being mixed. This is why dolsot bibimbap is highly popular at Korean restaurants.
As you might have seen at Korean restaurants, there are various types of stone pots or earthenwares for bibimbap. You can find some of them at Korean markets or on line. If preferred, use a cast iron pan or a casserole dish for the similar effect.
How to make Bibimbap
At home, we often make this dish using the side dishes left over from previous meals. It’s a delicious way to use up the leftovers. But, you can easily make this delicious rice bowl with freshly made simple side dishes.
This recipe seems long because I wanted to show you the typical toppings that go into an authentic bibimbap recipe. However, the recipe actually is a collection of several basic side dish (banchan) recipes that are very simple to make. I used 7 toppings, but any 3 or 4 of these will make a delightful rice bowl.
Other common toppings for bibimbap include mushrooms (sliced and sautéd), bellflower roots (doraji – soaked and sautéd), sukju namul(bean sprouts), mu saengchae (radish salad), onion (sliced and sautéd), lettuce leaves, sliced kimchi, and so on. See my collection of 15 Korean vegetable side dishes for more options.
An egg can be sunny side up, or fully cooked. Sometimes, only a raw egg yoke is used, which is typical for Jeonju bibimbap, as shown in the photo below.
How to make vegetarian or vegan bibimbap
Making a vegetarian or vegan bibimbap is easy! Simply skip the meat and egg. A few vegetable toppings will be great, but tofu is a great meat substitute and a protein option. As I showed in my tofu bibimbap recipe, pan-frying the tofu enhances the nutty flavor of the tofu and gives it a nice chewy texture.
Slice and sauté some mushrooms, which are another excellent meat substitute.
If you have vegetarian/vegan kimchi, slice it up a little. It will make a nice addition to your rice bowl.
Which rice to use
Koreans typically use short grain white rice for this dish. If you want to make this Korean rice bowl even healthier, use short grain brown rice or mixed grain rice instead. If short grain rice is not available in your area, use any rice you can find.
Cook the rice in a rice cooker or following package directions, using a little less water than called for. The rice should be a little drier than usual for best results.
The main ingredient for the sauce is gochujang, Korean fermented red pepper paste, a staple in Korean cooking. My delicious bibimbap sauce only takes a minute to make by simply mixing together gochujang, sesame oil, water and sugar.
More bibimbap recipes
For the rice:
- 3 cups short grain rice
For the bibimbap toppings:
- 8 ounces beef rib eye or sirloin (substitute shiitake mushrooms for a vegetarian dish)
- 2 cups boiled gosari* 고사리 (fernbrake)
- 16 ounces soybean sprouts 콩나물 (or mung bean sprouts, 숙주)
- 1 bunch spinach
- 2 kirby pickling cucumbers (or 1 Korean cucumber)
- 2 small zucchinis
- 2 medium carrots
- 5 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 or 3 scallions chopped
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- roasted sesame seeds
- salt and pepper
- vegetable or canola oil
- 4 eggs
For the bibimbap sauce
- 4 tablespoons of Korean red chili pepper paste gochujang, 고추장
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons of water
For the rice:
- Cook the rice in a rice cooker or following package directions, using a little less water than called for. The rice for bibimbap should be a little drier than usual for best results.
For the bibimbap bowl toppings:
- Beef: Cut into thin 2-inch long strips. Mix in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 sesame seeds and a pinch of pepper. Marinate for 20 minutes. Sauté in a skillet for 2 - 3 minutes over high heat.
- Gosari (Fern brake): Cut into 3-inch lengths. Season with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and a pinch of pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Sauté in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable/canola oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Soybean sprouts: Bring 1 cup of water to a boil with a teaspoon of salt. Add the bean sprouts and boil for 3 minutes. Drain quickly and shock in cold water to stop cooking. Drain again. Toss with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Spinach: Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water only until wilted, 30 - 40 seconds. Drain quickly and shock in cold water. Squeeze out water. Cut into 3-inch lengths. Toss with 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cucumbers: Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then thinly slice crosswise. Generously sprinkle salt over sliced cucumbers and set aside for 10 - 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid. Toss with 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
- Zucchinis: Cut the zucchinis in half lengthwise and then thinly slice crosswise. Generously sprinkle salt over sliced zucchinis and set aside for 10 - 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid from salted zucchini by hand. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds. Sauté in a lightly oiled skillet for 1 - 2 minutes over medium high heat.
For the bibimbap sauce:
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Place a serving of rice in a big bowl. (If using a stone bowl, heat it over medium heat until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and rice and cook the rice for several minutes until the rice sizzles.) Nicely arrange a small amount of each prepared vegetable and beef over the rice. Drizzle a little sesame oil over. Top with an egg fried sunny-side up and serve with the sauce.
**Other common toppings for bibimbap include shiitake mushrooms (sliced and sautéd), bellflower roots (doraji – soaked and sautéd), sukju namul (bean sprouts), mu saengchae(radish salad), onion (sliced and sautéd), lettuce leaves, kimchi (sliced), etc.
This easy bibimbap recipe was originally posted on this blog back in February 2010. As you can tell from the numerous comments below, it’s been enormously popular. Here, I’ve updated it with the new photos, more information and minor tweaks to the recipe.