What Is Bibimbap?
Bibimbap is a Korean rice bowl served with an assortment of meat and vegetables. The word bibim refers to a mix of various ingredients, while bap refers to rice. Traditionally, this rice dish is served in a hot stone bowl or stone pot (dolsot bibimbap), the contents of which are mixed together before eating. Typical bibimbap ingredients include:
- Sliced meats, like bulgogi beef (or marinated tofu, for a vegan BBQ vibe);
- Pickles and fermented products, like kimchi or gochujang sauce (Korean fermented red chili pepper paste);
- Namul, cooked and sautéed vegetables like greens or shiitake mushrooms, and especially assorted leftover banchan, or side dishes common to Asian cuisines, like braised lotus roots
- Crispy raw veggies like radish, bean sprouts, soybean sprouts, carrots, kale, and zucchini
- Sunny side-up egg, fried egg, or a raw egg yolk
What Are the Origins of Bibimbap?
Like many creations built around the clever repurposing of leftovers, bibimbap has deep cultural roots but no distinct origin point. The comforting dish has been a cornerstone of casual Korean cuisine for centuries, with mentions of the format appearing as far back as the 1500s.
The most popular places to find traditional bibimbap are Pyongyang and Jeonju. Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, is widely known for its vegetable bibimbap, while the South Korean town of Jeonju is known for Jeonju bibimbap, the most commonly served bibimbap around the world.
Homemade Bibimbap Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time1 hr 20 min
Cook Time50 min
- 1 cup short-grain rice (long-grain white rice or brown rice will also work)
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3–4 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoons ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tablespoon gochujang
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 radishes
- ½ large carrot, julienne or cut into matchsticks
- Neutral oil, like grapeseed oil
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- ¼ cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup ground beef
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoon kimchi, drained and chopped
- ¼ cup pea shoots
- Dried seaweed, sliced into thin ribbons
- First, cook the rice, either in a rice cooker, or a medium pot with 1½ cups of boiling water. Bring rice to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook until the rice is tender and all water has absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork or rice paddle, and cover until ready to use.
- While the rice cooks, marinate the meat: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground beef with a tablespoon each of soy sauce and sesame oil, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 clove of grated garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20–30 minutes.
- Next, make the bibimbap sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the gochujang, remaining sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, and sliced green onions. Set aside.
- Slice radishes and carrots into thin slices or strips. Keep crisp in ice-cold water until ready to use.
- In a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the cooking oil. Sauté 2 sliced garlic cloves until aromatic, about 30 seconds, then add the spinach. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted, 1–2 minutes more. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with bean sprouts.
- Remove ground beef from the refrigerator, and add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil to the skillet. Add the meat and its marinade to the skillet and cook through until the marinade has reduced, about 5–6 minutes.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Fry the egg to desired doneness.
- Drain the ice water from the bowl with the radishes and carrots then place the veggies on a paper towel-lined plate to dry.
- To assemble the bibimbap, place the rice in a large, deep serving bowl. Arrange the various components around the edges, with the egg in the center. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with seaweed strips.
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