Here’s how to make vegan bibimbap–a quick and simple plant based take on an authentic Korean mixed rice dish! It’s an easy meal perfect for weeknight dinners with fluffy rice, sautéed vegetables and a delicious gochujang sauce.
This recipe is sponsored by Zojirushi America.
Bibimbap (비빔밥) translates to “mixed rice” in Korean and it’s a hearty dish made up of a base of fluffy white rice, a variety of seasoned vegetables and often topped with beef and a fried egg. The rice is served with a spicy gochujang sauce so you can add it to your liking and mix it into the rice.
You’ll often find this dish on the menu at Korean restaurants, including Korean barbecue restaurants. I personally love this dish because it’s easy to order vegan bibimbap by removing any meat and/or egg and substituting with tofu. It’s also incredibly easy to make at home and is great for a quick and nutritious meal.
The ingredients used to make bibimbap tends to vary as there are a few different variations of the dish. Region and season will also impact the ingredients used and I’ve also found that each family’s bibimbap recipe varies too! It’s an easily customizable recipe so it all comes down to personal preference and what you have available.
Most standard bibimbap recipes will include a base of steamed, short grain white rice and a variety of common vegetables like:
Some of the vegetables are blanched and seasoned, others are sautéed or quickly pickled. Common additions also include radish, burdock root, fiddlehead fern and bellflower root.
The bibimbap sauce is made of gochujang, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, sweetener and garlic and just needs to be whisked together and adjusted to taste.
This bibimbap recipe is incredibly easy to make and tastes like it came from a restaurant. Traditionally, all of the ingredients are individually prepared and then combined to create the final dish.
To start, you’ll want to cook white rice. I like to use a Zojirushi rice cooker because it allows a hands off cooking experience and gives me time to prepare other elements of the dish while it cooks. My grandma has always owned a Zojirushi rice cooker and I always think of her when I make rice now! Using the Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker, the result is perfectly cooked rice every single time thanks to triple direction heat for precise cooking and advanced fuzzy logic technology. P.S. You can enter the Sweepstakes to win one following the directions at the bottom of this post!*
While the rice is cooking, you can blanch and sauté your vegetables. The spinach and soybean sprouts will both be blanched and seasoned. To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil, toss the vegetables in for a few seconds until slightly wilted, then remove and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Using your hands, squeeze out as much water as possible and then season.
The carrots, zucchini and mushrooms will each be sautéed with neutral oil and an optional touch of sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
For the pickled element, I love to use cabbage and I’ll create a “quick pickle” by seasoning with rice wine vinegar, fresh grated garlic, salt and pepper. You can also add in a little sesame oil, if you’d like. Alternatively, the carrots could also serve as your pickled element!
I like to quickly pan fry extra firm or high protein tofu. These varieties are firmer in texture which make for a great topping and I simply season with salt and pepper because the bibimbap sauce adds so much flavor.
Perhaps the easiest part of this process is just whisking together all of your sauce ingredients. Adjust to taste, especially if you’re not a fan of spice, and set aside. The gochujang, or Korean red pepper paste has such a complex flavor and is the base for many spicy Korean dishes like Bibim Guksu, spicy cold noodles. It is what contributes to a lot of the spice, so feel free to use less if you find it to be quite spicy. You can also try my homemade gochujang sauce which allows you to customize the flavors even more.
To assemble, start with a base of rice, then arrange each of the seasoned elements around the perimeter of the bowl. Top with any garnish desired like shredded seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, scallions and as much sauce as you’d like, then mix it up and enjoy.
The only substitutions you’ll need to make gluten free bibimbap include soy sauce, which I would recommend replacing with tamari or coconut aminos and possibly the gochujang. There are several gluten free gochujang pastes available so just do a quick scan of the ingredients to check that it is gluten free.
Most bibimbap ingredients are commonly found at any grocery store and I opted to focus on including more of the common vegetables as toppings to make it even simpler. If you have trouble finding shiitake mushrooms, gochujang, rice wine vinegar or seaweed, I recommend checking your local Asian market or Korean grocery store if you have one accessible to you. Otherwise, you can also find these ingredients online. Tip: Trader Joe’s recently started selling gochujang if there’s one near you!
If you’re looking for short grain white rice, it is sometimes labeled “sushi rice” or “sticky rice” at conventional grocery stores.
I encourage making ingredient substitutions where you need to, especially with regard to the vegetables. This can be a great fridge cleanout meal to make with leftover vegetables and you can even swap out rice for another cooked grain or carb like quinoa, buckwheat, millet and more!
Bibimbap is a great recipe to meal prep! I often make rice in larger batches and store leftovers in the fridge to eat throughout the week. If you’d like to meal prep, simply make enough rice for each meal and multiply the recipe to make enough sauce and vegetables for each meal.
You can store each of the vegetable elements separately or in a large airtight container and keep it in the fridge. I recommend adding the sauce just before you enjoy, and storing that separately in the fridge as well.
Leftovers should last 3-4 days in the refrigerator and should be reheated before enjoying.
I like to top my bibimbap with fresh green scallions, toasted white sesame seeds, seaweed and sometimes kimchi or pickled yellow radish. I recommend adding scallions and seaweed just before consuming and although arranging the toppings on the rice is traditionally how it is served, if you’d like to save time, don’t feel bad about mixing it all together and serving it like a fried rice!
If you’re entertaining or making this recipe for a family, consider serving all of the elements in separate bowls and creating a bibimbap bar so that everyone can customize their rice bowl.
Bibimbap is a fairly straightforward recipe to make and I think what makes the dish excellent is each element being prepared to perfection. Most importantly, the rice should be cooked so that it’s fluffy, delicious and not too gummy. Korean dishes are served with short grain white rice and it is best made in a rice cooker versus stovetop.
Be sure to wash your rice before cooking. This not only helps remove any debris and dirt but also excess starch. I recommend rinsing in cool water and draining off excess water 3-4 times until the water runs fairly clear.
Always use the rice measuring cup and water lines to make sure you’re cooking the rice precisely. Zojirushi’s rice cookers come with a rice measuring cup and have clear marks on the inside of the cooking pot to indicate how much water should be added for each variety of rice.
Finally, make sure you’re using the correct rice cooker setting! The Micom Rice Cooker has various settings and you’ll want to use the Quick setting or the regular White setting to make perfect short grain white rice.
If you like this vegan bibimbap recipe, you might also like a few of the other varieties like Jeonju Bibimbap, which originated in Western South Korea, Yeolmu Kimchi Bibimbap which is a great one for any kimchi lovers out there or Jinju Bibimbap which features raw meat. There are also seafood and fish based varieties like Andong Bibimbap, served with a sauce that omits the spice.
We can’t forget Hoedeobap, my mum’s favorite variety, which usually involves raw fish and can be served as a salad instead of a rice bowl. My dad’s favorite is the wild vegetable variety, also called Sanchae Bibimbap. This one is less commonly seen on restaurant menus but is a treat if you ever come across it.
Perhaps the most popular variety, however, is Dolsot Bibimbap which is served in a sizzling hot stone pot. The heat from the stone pot grills the bottom of the rice dish and at the end of the meal, you end up with crispy bits of rice. It’s almost like the crispy rice bits at the bottom of an Italian ice–perhaps the best part of the meal!
You can easily turn this korean rice bowl recipe into a dolsot recipe by serving it in the hot stone bowl or you can mix the rice and give it a quick fry on a pan or skillet until the bottom layer crisps up. It adds delicious texture and warmth to the dish.
*The sweepstakes has officially ended–congraulations to Anne!48
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BY Remy • June 18, 2019
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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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