Homemade Bibimbap Recipe and Technique- With Vegetarian, Vegan, Egg Free, Paleo, and GAPS Options

Bibimbap. What a fun name for a food! Whenever I say it, I feel like bursting out in song. It took me a while to realize that bibimbap is a real name of a delicious food, meaning mixed rice. A Korean meal that has quickly made it well onto my list of favorites.
What exactly is bibimbap, you ask? It is a prettily plated mixed dish, typically with rice, a few types of vegetables, each prepared separately, and maybe a protein or two. Typically it is topped with a fried egg and a sauce, usually a hot sauce, but I leave out the egg because I don't find it necessary, and I am sensitive to eggs.
The reason I like bibimbap is because it is very versatile. It tastes great, but can be made pretty much with whatever you have in hand, and therefore can be made to suit whatever diet you're following, pretty much. Even the rice can be replaced with some other grain, like quinoa, or even by cauliflower "rice". Now that I'm trying to increase the amount of veggies I am eating, and cutting back on the amount of grains, I find that bibimbap can help me get all those veggies in, feel satiated, and truly enjoy my meal. And it's also the perfect way to use leftovers.

I served bibimbap at a meal recently where we have a guest who is a pretty picky eater. The beauty of bibimbap is that I was able to serve her just what she liked, while everyone else got to enjoy all the other parts of the dish. This is a perfect dish for picky eaters or for families where everyone has different dietary preferences.

So, while I'm sure everyone wants me to include an official specific recipe... I'm not really going to do that. Because the beauty in bibimbap is that you don't need to follow a specific recipe, and it'll still be awesome.

Here's two pics of different meals of bibimbap that I made, just to give you examples of how your bibimbap can be varied.

This was the first time I ever made bibimbap.

Rice, sauted ground turkey, green beans, sauted carrots, salted cucumbers, fried onions, steamed zucchini, radish salad, steamed eggplant, topped with arame, sesame seeds, and homeamde sriracha

This was my latest attempt.

Rice, sauted ground beef, green beans, chopped boiled chicken gizzards, sauted carrots, fried onions, stir fried eggplant, steamed zucchini, oi sangchae (Korean cucumber salad), steamed lambsquarters, nori, sesame seeds, and sriracha.

Both bibimbap. Both delicious. Both made with what I had in the house at the time, that I got on sale or that I foraged. But both different.

The trick to bibimbap is to use a variety of ingredients together, ideally all with different colors, tastes, and textures, and plate them so that you don't have a bunch of similar looking things next to each other, but rather that each item is able to shine since it is next to something that is contrasting. You can put both raw and cooked items in your bibimbap- I try to have at least something raw in mine always, for that yummy crunch. You want your veggies to be in small pieces, so they can fit onto your fork easily, with other foods as well.

The other thing I'd suggest is to make sure you have complimentary flavors. While you can use leftovers for this, I don't really suggest using Mexican leftovers in your bibimbap- try to use either unspiced veggies, or things cooked in ways that either are Asian style or that would compliment them. (Dishes seasoned with vinegar, honey, soy sauce/coconut aminos, ginger, garlic, onion, sesame, etc... I wouldn't suggest things seasoned with cumin and turmeric, for example. But hey- prove me wrong, put them together and make it work, and kudos for you- I'm not that adventurous.)

Here are examples of foods you can put in your bibimbap (but you're not limited to these):

Radishes or turnips- either sliced up/julienned plain, or made into a salad like mu sangchae (Korean turnip or radish salad)
Cucumbers- either sliced, sliced and salted, leftover oi sangchae (Korean cucumber salad) or other Asian inspired cucumber salads, or even cucumbers left from oi naengguk (Korean chilled cucumber soup).
Cabbage- either finely chopped cabbage, or kimchi.
Steamed or sauted greens. You can either leave these plain, or salt them, season with sesame oil and garlic or onion, with soy sauce, or whatever. I used foraged lambsquarters last time I made them, but you can use spinach, kale, chard, or whatever.
Green beans- steamed, sauted, fresh or frozen, seasoned or unseasoned.
Onions- raw or sauted, regular onions or purple onions or scallions or chives.
Zucchini- either steamed or sauted, seasoned with soy sauce or sesame oil or garlic, or just left plain.
Carrots- either raw or steamed or sauted, either plain, salted, or spiced with garlic or ginger or whatever.
Eggplant- cooked only, can be baked, steamed, sauted, either made into stir fry with soy sauce and/or garlic and/or ginger or unseasoned.
Mushrooms- raw or sauted, seasoned or not
Sprouts- raw or sauted, seasoned or not.
Butternut squash- cooked.
Snow peas- raw, steamed, sauted, etc... Seasoned or not.
Celery- raw, steamed, sauted, etc... Seasoned or not.
Peppers- raw, steamed, sauted, etc... Seasoned or not.
Broccoli- raw, steamed, sauted, etc... Seasoned or not.
You catch my drift. Whatever veggies appeal to you, pretty much.

You can use just one protein, or you can use more than one- your choice.
Ground beef, turkey, chicken, etc...- saute up, either plain or seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, etc...
Sliced or chopped cooked beef, turkey, or chicken. This can even be leftover roast, chicken/turkey that you picked from the carcass of a bird that you boiled for soup, cooked organ meats like gizzards or liver, etc...
Fish- cooked and chopped, or even you can use raw fish, like sashimi, so long as you have good quality fish, sushi grade.
Egg- Scrambled, a sliced up omelet, a sliced hard boiled egg, a sunny side up egg, etc...
Beans- I've seen some bibimbap recipes with beans, but I am not sure how they'd taste- it seems weird to me, but you're welcome to try it out...
And now here's some ways to make it vegan, though they aren't things I'd likely eat, either because I am sensitive to them or because I think they are unhealthy, but to increase options, I am going to list them anyhow:
Tofu or tempeh- cooked, ideally sauted or baked with Asian spices or sauces to give it flavor.
TVP- soy flakes, which is used like imitation minced meat, and can be seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, etc...
Seitan- vegan, gluten based, mock meat, which I used to make at home before I realized that gluten makes me sick.

You can use regular white rice, basmati rice, brown rice, short grain rice, millet, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc...

You can use any of the following, and as many as you like.
Sesame seeds- white or whole, toasted or untoasted.
Chopped scallions
Seaweed- either chopped up nori, or cooked seaweed like arame or wakame.
Soy sauce or coconut aminos
Sriracha sauce (I used my homemade refined sugar free sriracha)
Thai sweet chili sauce- (you can use my homemade refined sugar free thai chili sauce)
Teriyaki sauce- (either homemade teriyaki sauce or homemade grain free teriyaki style sauce)
Fish sauce (like this homemade nam pla)
Gochujang- Korean chili paste is what traditionally is put on it, but since it isn't available locally, I skip it.
Miso or Doenjang- both fermented soybean pastes

So... that's it. I know its a whole long list, but you don't need to put nearly as many ingredients together in as I did- even 2-3 vegetables, 1 protein, and rice would work...

To eat it, you either mix it all together right before eating it, or, like me, you can decide each spoonful/forkful what you want to mix together, making each bite have its own unique flavor and texture combination.

Definitely worth a try.

Ever hear of bibimbap? Ever eat it? Ever make it? What do you put in yours or was in yours when you ate it? Anything you'd add to my list? Does this look like something you'd try at home?

P.S. Apparently there is a children's book about making bibimbap, one I've never read, but since I'm sure someone will bring it up in the comments, I decided to beat them to it. :-D

Linking up to Natural Living MondayMostly Homemade MondayAllergy Free WednesdayReal Food Wednesday

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I never had it, but I saw someone order it in a restaurant in Manhattan. I thought they were joking about the name. Struck me very funny.. Great post.. thanks

    1. Yes, it does seem like it should be a joke. My kids named a puppet we have in our house "Bap" so whenever I say we're serving bibimbap, they say "You're eating BAP?!?!?"

  2. So of course I had to look for the book.

    I'm definitely trying this! Now that the garden's starting to produce...mmmm

    1. Haha, awesome- what are you growing?

    2. I tried planting early, then we had a cold snap last night and it all died. Oops, should have listened to the old timers who said never plant before Memorial Day. (I'll be replanting cucumbers, zucchini, butternut squash, herbs. Later tomatoes, pumpkins, kale. Stuff the deer and woodchucks won't eat.

    3. Awww that stinks! Good luck with the new batch!

  3. This looks delicious but like so much work... Can you give tips for combining the cooking of the vegetables, or making things in advance?

    1. You can make everything in advance, make the cucumber salad one day and serve it a day or two later in bibimbap, can make steamed veggies in advance, use frozen spinach, for example.... And, of course, you can just put less variety of stuff in it, just 3-4 items, and that saves work as well...

  4. I will have to show my hubby this one....he loves Korean food.
    I personally am kinda picky about my food mixing and touching on my plate...kinda an OCD thing
    but it sounds very healthy and easy to make!!!

    1. Its interesting- my husband used to be like that- no food can be touching.... but then he got "over it" and mixes EVERYTHING together! And yes, definitely healthy and relatively easy.

    2. How did he get over it?

    3. He accidentally ate two foods together, they tasted awesome that way, so he started experimenting and now loves his food mixed all together.

  5. Just got a new-to-me waffle iron, and found this online. For those with waffle irons: Bibimbaffle. Aka bibimbap made in a waffle iron.


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