Bibimbab (Korean Rice and Vegetables)

Bibimbab (Korean Rice and Vegetables)

Recipe by: Susan Voisin, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking

Bibimbab (or bi bim bap) is a collection of several tasty foods arranged on top of a bowl of rice. Traditionally, beef would be one of the toppings and a fried egg would be placed over the rice. In this vegan version, I’ve replaced the beef with baked tofu and eliminated the egg. Also, I’ve reduced the oil and sodium in the toppings and tried to simplify what can be a complex dish to put together.

* 6 cups freshly cooked rice
* 4 tablespoons kochu chang (See note)
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons sesame oil
* 1 teaspoon lightly crushed, toasted sesame seeds

You will need to prepare at least 3 of the following recipes to go on top (4-5 is preferable):

* Baked Tofu
* Oshitashi (Spinach with Roasted Sesame Seeds)
* Soy or Mung-Bean Sprouts Salad
* Korean-Style Cucumber Salad
* Zucchini Stir-Fried with Garlic
* Boiled Edamame
* Steamed Broccoli Flowerets
* Easy Greens
* Ginger-Garlic Bok Choi

I begin by toasting at least 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. You can do this easily by spreading them out on a cookie sheet in an oven or toaster oven. Watch them carefully because they burn easily. Take them out as soon as they start to brown and crush them in a mortar and pestle. Use 1 tsp. for the sauce, below, and the rest in your topping dishes.

Prepare your topping dishes while the rice is cooking–or before. All of the toppings can be made in advance. The Cucumber Salad and Bean Sprouts Salad, in particular, taste better when left to marinate for a while.

For the sauce, mix the kochu chang, sugar, sesame oil, and 1 tsp. crushed sesame seeds.

Divide up the rice among six large bowls, mounding it slightly in the middle. On top of the rice, put a dollop of sauce in the middle and arrange your toppings radiating down from the sauce, in triangular-shaped segments. Enjoy!

Note: Kochu chang (also spelled Gochujang) is a delicious–and very hot–Korean paste made with fermented soy beans, hot red pepper, and, frequently, garlic. It’s available in Korean grocery stores and will keep in the refrigerator almost indefinitely. It adds a wonderful flavor, very different from other sauces. It’s worth the effort to look for it, but if you can’t find it, check out this recipe for a substitute. For more information about buying kochu chang, check out this blog entry.

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