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Vegetarian bibimbap – Caroline’s Cooking

    vegetarian bibimbap in bowl with vegetables in piles on top

    All too often, comfort food and healthy don’t go together, but this vegetarian bibimbap is an exception. It’s a delicious bowl of goodness, packed with a rainbow of vegetables and here made with brown rice.

    vegetarian bibimbap in bowl with vegetables in piles on top

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    I’ve been meaning to make bibimbap for such a long time, and I’m not really sure why it has taken me so long. Especially after I got a bit of a taste for Korean food when I made hoedeopbap, Korean sashimi rice bowl, but somehow it still took a while.

    But now I’ve made this vegetarian bibimbap, I know I need to make a meat version soon, as well as this again.

    mixed vegetarian bibimbap in skillet from side

    What is bibimbap?

    Bibimbap is a Korean dish that means ‘mixed rice’ as it is literally rice with lots of things mixed in. You can vary the additions to taste, but they usually include a few different vegetables, and meat and/or egg in many cases, and some spicy sauce to bring it all together.

    Even the sauce comes in more than one form, but typically it is a sauce made with gochujang, a spicy red pepper paste.

    The first time I came across bibimbap was in London years ago when Korean food was fairly new there, so it was a bit of a novelty. I remember we found it strange that it was translated as ‘hot pot’ since a hot pot is something quite different in the UK – a kind of stew with a layer of potatoes as a crust which I must share some time.

    Bibimbap was something completely different but definitely delicious. To make my own, I’ve drawn on a few versions I have had and recipes, including this one from My Korean Kitchen.

    bowl of vegetarian bibimbap with some of vegetables in small bowls around main bowl

    Different ways to serve vegetarian bibimbap

    As well as having different ingredients, there are also variations on how you serve bibimbap. The simpler version, which is what I imagine many people do at home to use up leftover bits of food for a quick meal, is a bowl of rice with everything on top (as above), that you can then mix in.

    If you want to expand this idea for example for entertaining, you can even make a ‘bibimbap bar’ and let people serve themselves.

    vegetarian bibimbap as dolsot bibimbap in skillet with raw egg in middle

    The other way is to make it more of a dolsot bibimbap. Dolsot is a stone dish that’s heated up and the rice is cooked in it so that it gets a wonderful slightly crisp edge to it. The toppings are piled on top, along with a raw egg. You then mix it all together at the table just before you eat it and the egg cooks with the heat of the stone and everything else.

    Of course, not everyone has a dolsot at home, but you can achieve a similar effect with a cast iron skillet (as I did, above). Personally I think I prefer the dolsot for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly, there’s something fun about eating out of a pan (not that you have to, of course), and I like how you can get the rice a little crispy. But the other part is you can make a larger batch and then just reheat in the pan when you are ready to eat in mere minutes.

    steps making vegetarian bibimbap - cut mushrooms, cooking carrots, cooked vegetables and adding vegetables to rice

    How to make vegetarian bibimbap

    It can take a little bit of time to make this if you are starting from scratch, as there are a few components to it, but each is pretty quick and easy.

    • Set the rice to cook while you prepare the toppings.
    • Blanch the beansprouts and wilt the spinach then dress both with sesame oil, garlic powder, salt and toasted sesame seeds.
    • Cut the cucumber and carrots in julienne strips. Trim mushrooms and slice.
    • Toss the cucumber with salt, leave a few minutes then squeeze lightly to remove excess liquid.
    • Fry the carrots and mushrooms separately in a little oil to soften.
    • Put together the bowl and serve.

    You can easily make more for another time too, as I say, either making just enough rice each time to have a simple bowl, or reheat extra rice for a dolsot version.

    I’ve used brown rice here, both as it’s a little healthier and I like the slight nuttiness with everything else, but you can also use white rice if you prefer.

    vegetarian bibimbap mixed together in skillet

    This vegetarian bibimbap might seem to take a little bit of time, but it’s perfect for meal prepping or feeding a crowd, if you make more. It’s a wonderfully comforting and tasty bowl, that just happens to be good for you too. You can hardly get better.

    Try these other tasty bowls:

    Plus get more vegetarian meals and Korean recipes in the archives, like favorites japchae (a noodle stir fry) and hotteok (sweet stuffed pancakes).

    bowl of vegetarian bibimbap with the various vegetables in piles over the rice underneath

    Print Recipe

    Vegetarian bibimbap

    Vegetarian bibimbap is that wonderful combination of comfort food, healthy and delicious.


    Prep Time15 mins

    Cook Time15 mins

    Total Time30 mins

    Race: Hand Race

    Kitchen: korean

    Services: 2

    calories: 393calories

    Author: Caroline’s Cooking



    For the beansprouts

    • 4 oz beansprouts 110g
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 pinch garlic powder
    • 1 pinch salt
    • ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

    For the spinach

    • 4 oz spinache 110g
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 pinch garlic powder
    • ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

    For the cucumber

    • 2 ½ oz cucumber 75g
    • ¼ teaspoon salt approximately

    For rest of bowl

    • 2 oz carrots 55g
    • 2 oz shiitake mushrooms 55g
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil approximately
    • ½ cup brown rice 100g, gold white, cooked per packet instructions
    • 2 eggs (optional)
    • 1 pinch seaweed to top
    • 2 tbsp gochujang sauce approx (either ready prepared or make your own – note this is sauce using gochujang paste, not just the paste)


    • Set the rice to cook while you prepare the vegetables (or you can prepare it ahead, depending on how serving – see above). Set aside once ready.

    • Bring a small-medium pot of water to a boil and add the beansprouts. Simmer for a couple minutes until they are going slightly translucent but still have a crunch to them.

    • Drain the beansprouts from the pot, saving the water, then either pour the hot water over the spinach in a bowl, or put the spinach in the pot. Either way, wilt the spinach (it will just take a minute) then drain the spinach. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, dress the beansprouts with the sesame oil, garlic powder and salt and top with the sesame seeds.

    • Once the spinach has cooled enough to handle, squeeze it well to remove excess water then thinly shred it. Dress with the sesame oil, garlic powder and salt and top with the sesame seeds.

    • Cut the cucumber into thin half-slices or battons (julienne), toss with salt then after a couple minutes, squeeze any excess water from it.

    • Cut the carrots in thin battons (julienne), remove the stems from the mushrooms and slice them. Warm the oil in a small skillet and cook the carrots a minute or two to soften. Set aside then cook the mushrooms a minute or two until gently softened.

    • If serving as dolsot version, warm a little oil in two small-medium skillets/frying pans (ideally cast iron), then add half the cooked rice to each. Warm a few minutes then top with piles of the different vegetables (apart from cucumber), dividing each evenly between the two. Add an egg on top of each, add the cucumber, some gochujang sauce and top with some seaweed. Serve in the pan, mixing the egg through with everything else so the egg cooks in the heat of the pan. Note for this version, all components can be prepared ahead and stored in the fridge.

    • If you prefer a more ‘normal’ bowl, add the warm rice to two bowls, top each with half of each of the vegetables (all warm, apart from cucumber), some gochujang sauce and seaweed. Optionally top with a fried egg.


    If you want to prepare your own sauce mix together approx: 1tbsp gochujang paste, ½tbsp sesame oil, ½tbsp sugar, ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar, around ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (or a bit more to taste) and ½tbsp water (or a little more as needed).
    You can use white or brown rice for this, as you prefer – a medium or long grain rice is generally best.


    calories: 393calories | Carbohydrates: 47g | protein: 13g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 809mg | Potassium: 832mg | fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 10315UI | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 3.8mg

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    Other rice bowl recipes to try:

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    Vegetarian bibimbap: All too often, comfort food and healthy don't go together, but this vegetarian bibimbap is an exception.  It's a delicious bowl of goodness, packed with a rainbow of vegetables and here made with brown rice.  So tasty!  #vegetarian #koreanfood #bibimbap