Vegan Bibimbab

by on February 22, 2006
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When I moved here from South Carolina a little over 5 years ago, I had no idea that what I would miss most would be the Korean restaurants and grocery stores available to me there. If I had known that there were no Korean restaurants anywhere near here–and only one grocery store in a town too far away to visit often–I would, at the very least, have stocked up on kochu chang (also spelled gochujang and gochuchang), the spicy pepper paste that gives my favorite Korean dish, Bibimbab (aka Bi Bim Bap), its characteristic flavor.

Bibimbab consists of a bowl of rice with several separately cooked vegetables served on top. For non-vegans, bibimbab includes meat among the toppings and a fried egg over the top, but my husband and I would often go to our favorite restaurant and ask that the meat be replaced with tofu and the egg eliminated. We’d also ask that the little side dishes served with each meal be vegetarian. If you have a chance to go to a Korean restaurant, try getting your bibimbab prepared dol sot–cooked in a heavy stoneware bowl, the rice becomes almost crispy along the bottom. (I’ve been searching for an affordable source of these bowls for years and haven’t found it yet; since each one weighs about 5 pounds, mail ordering them is not very practical.) [Update 3/2/06--Found 'em!]

When I make bibimbab, I usually prepare about 4 or 5 toppings for the rice. The rice is mounded in a bowl, and each topping is arranged in a wedge radiating down from a dollop of sauce at the top. Last night I made what I called a “modified bibimbab” with just three toppings. Hey, we’re lucky to have it at all on a weeknight!

Vegan Bibimbab

The toppings that you see above are Baked Tofu, Mung-Bean Sprouts Salad, and Ginger-Garlic Bok Choi, the recipe for which follows. For more toppings, click here.

In the process of making the vegetable dishes, I discovered that we were out of that most necessary ingredient, kochu chang (or gochujang), a hot chili paste that’s considered one of the essential seasonings in Korean dishes. But, thanks to Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian, I was able to whip up a surprisingly similar-tasting substitute. So, if you can’t find kochu chang in your area, here’s what you do:


Many of the dishes that make up bibimbab can be made ahead and served either cold or at room temperature. So, if you’re better organized than I am, you can easily prepare most of this meal in advance and just cook your rice right before serving. It really is a meal worth going to some trouble for.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV August 1, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Here are the comments from before the blog was moved to Wordpress:

Virginie said…

Thank you Susan for this korean recipe. In France, we don’t know enough this food culture. There are more chinese or eventually japan restaurant (because no many korean migrants I suppose). I must taste it. But I wonder what Bok Choi is. I ‘ll ask it to my asian store. If they haven’t got it, do you think I can use another vegetable instead of it ?

6:10 PM, February 22, 2006
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Anonymous Anonymous said…

Susan this is great! I love mung bean sprouts, so I am excited to try the salad topping. Thanks for another wonderful post!

Courtney

6:47 PM, February 22, 2006
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SusanV said…

Virginie–Hi and Bonjour! You could use any type of Asian leafy green vegetable for this. Even chard or kale would work if you can’t find bok choi.

Hi Courtney! This is really my favorite way to prepare bean spouts. My daughter will eat tons of them this way, too, and she won’t touch them raw.

8:39 AM, February 23, 2006
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Alanna said…

Ummm … so if you’re making the kochu chang substitute and don’t have miso, is there a good substitute? Tee hee.

Great post.

9:07 AM, February 23, 2006
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KaiVegan said…

Wow, I have to go back to this post sometime! I mean, talk about the love that a mom put in her cooking! I usually get baby bok choy when I go to the asian market, but I’ve seen them at Whole Foods, too. I only have white miso though, I wonder how that would turn out.
Susan, I noticed my blogname here but when I clicked on it, it is still your blogsite:)
thanks, and I’m glad I found your blog!

10:16 AM, February 23, 2006
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SusanV said…

AK–LOL! No, you just have to get yourself down to an Asian market and get some miso!

kaivegan–I’ve worked and worked on getting your link right, and I think I’ve finally done it. It’s setup through Bloglines, and for some reason it kept displaying wrong on my blog.

I think the white miso would probably be okay. It has a milder flavor, so it certainly couldn’t hurt.

11:45 AM, February 23, 2006
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Virginie said…

Thank you Susan. I’ll try it and tell you how it tastes.

6:11 PM, February 23, 2006
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luvbomy said…

Hi! Susan.
Even though this is the first time I’m leaving a comment, I’ve been enjoying your site for a while now. It’s wonderful.
I happen to be Korean and I’m glad to let you know the true meaning of the word bibimbab. :)
The word bibim means ‘to mix or mixing’ and bab means ‘cooked rice’ and thus bibimbab is boiled rice mixed with assorted dishes. :)
I usually use any vegetable dishes I have in the fridge, but I will try your bok choy dish next time I make bibimbab. Thanks!

3:14 PM, August 11, 2006
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Shelly Anne said…

Thank you so much for this recipe. Babimbab always sounded and looked tasty, but being a vegan, the meat prevented me from having any. I will make this recipe this weekend. My friend has a vegan blog you may want to check out. http://www.compassionateconsumption.blogspot.com.

4:41 PM, September 26, 2007
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Anonymous said…

Hi! Susan Ive happen to be one of your readers, and I see this recipes of yours I have my mouth water while Im reading it.I just thinking that I am definately gonna try this, it just sound soo good and it look so delios,ummm I thank you for recipes add. then I let you know how it goes, beacuse I am also going to serve this to my family too!

9:53 PM, January 11, 2008
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Katy said…

This is wonderful!!!!! I love Dol Sot Bibimbap and I am slowly going vegan. Yay I get my cake and eat it too! I figured I’d be able to still eat it since it is mostly veggie anyway, but thanks for spelling it out. :)

9:19 AM, June 09, 2008
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Sheela said…

I was looking for vegan or vegetarian version of bulgogi and came upon your bibimbab and started exploring your site. You have a collection of good recipes here – with gorgeous photos to drool over! Thank for sharing!

2:53 PM, January 18, 2009
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Amanda said…

A recipe for this? Can’t wait to try it!
I believe you were in Chicago recently but if you ever come back, be sure to check out Alice and Friends Restaurant on the north side. They are a vegetarian/vegan Korean restaurant and they have the best Bi Bim Bop Dol Sot, I’m sure I spelled that wrong. Well, my statement that it is the best is an assumption – I’ve never had it elsewhere – but it is my favorite dish there. Phenomenal!

12:37 AM, May 28, 2009
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M. said…

The recipe on the non-blog part of your site says that gochujang is “very hot”, but that simply isn’t true. It’s very mild and mellow as far as chili condiments go. But anyway, thanks to introducing me to it, I use it in a lot of different things – even salsa (supplemented with other paprika and chili).

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2 Denby Stoneware August 26, 2009 at 9:33 am

Great stuff, seems like an amazing recipe. Will try it out this weekend

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3 Ryan Draving May 4, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I made this with my fiancé last night. The recipe rocks :-) thanks Susan. Talk to you soon — Ryan

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4 Tricia June 14, 2010 at 10:12 pm

This looks sooooooo yummy, I can’t wait to try it to make it! I wish it had nutrition info, is there an easy way I can figure that out?

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5 SusanV June 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm

It’s such a complicated dish–or set of dishes–and can be varied in so many ways that I didn’t think I could come up with accurate nutritional info.

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6 lea September 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Tried this out last night and I loved it! (Ironically, when I was in Korea, all of the food seemed very foreign and unappetizing. The only authentic Korean meal I ate made me sick.) Much better experience with this recipe! The kochu chang sauce is delicious. Didn’t have the bok choy, so I subbed some spinach gomae (spinach with sesame sauce). I really liked the bean sprout salad. Yes, I made a mess of my kitchen, but was it worth it? YES! Thanks as always Susan for all of your time and dedication to your awesome blog.

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7 michele (twitter @veganfork) February 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for this recipe, I love Korean food. Do you know of any good Vegan Korean cookbook for purchase?

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8 Gary Loewenthal April 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Was pressed for time, only made the bok choi – so far. It was delicious. I made a lot, so there are leftovers, and I’ll make at least one more component of the dish tomorrow!

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9 Lennart Arends April 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

Just a great healthy, tasty dish, i made everything including the mung bean sprout salad and it just works really well together. Thanks for the inspiration, i am telling all my friends :-)

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10 Karen June 7, 2013 at 8:14 am

This has become a new favorite around our house, just found the recipe recently. I used white miso and it seemed to work fine in the sauce. I also upped the cayenne because we like spicy. The second time I made it, I used thinly sliced celery in the bean sprout salad (didn’t have sprouts) and that was good, a little crunchier than the bean sprouts.

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11 Sharon Zlamal August 19, 2013 at 6:53 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve discovered Korean food in the last year and have enjoyed several recipes from a blog called Vegan 8 Korean. The one recipeI couldn’t find on their was the bibimbap. We enjoyed several recipes from your blog, but I was really surprised when you came up after I searched for vegan bibimbap!!

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