Vegetarian Bibimbap: Korean Mixed Rice with Protein & Vegetables

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Today, I present a vegetarian version of the classic Korean dish called Bibimbap that is delicious one-dish meal loaded with vegetables and proteins. The original version of this dish includes meat and egg but in this Vegetarian Bibimbap I have used Paneer (you can also use Tofu) as the protein.

Vegetarian Bibimbap: Mixed and Ready to Eat
Vegetarian Bibimbap: Mixed and Ready to Eat

The first time I saw Bibimbap, I was fascinated by the riot of colours on the plate from all the vegetables, the bean sprouts, and the red Gochujang-based sauce. Anything that looked so interesting HAD to be delicious, and indeed so it turned out to be.

As I read more about this iconic Korean dish, I realised that it could very easily be adapted to make a vegetarian version. I requested a friend in the US to get me Gochujang, a kind of sweet-sour Korean Chilli paste, and since I got it late last year, I have been making Vegetarian Bibimbap often at home. My family and friends with whom I have shared this dish think of it as a Korean Fried Rice, and request that I make it often.

I also serve this Bibimbap to guests who like Indo-Chinese food, and at first glance they always mistake it for Schezwan Fried Rice | Sichuan Fried Rice, and then are pleasantly surprised to find a completely different flavour profile.

I used Chinese Sesame oil which has a significantly stronger flavour profile and is very smoky in making this vegetarian Bibimbap, and it imparts a very distinct flavour. Please do use regular unfiltered sesame oil in making this dish.

The more I read about Korean food the more I realised how healthy it was with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetables. A complete Korean meal seems to follow the six taste principle of Ayurveda. Anyway, all this apart, as a foodie, any new cuisine was always worth exploring. 🙂

Vegetarian Bibimbap: Korean Rice with Vegetables and Gochujang-based Sauce
Vegetarian Bibimbap as it is plated and served.

Recipe for a Vegetarian Bibimbap, a Korean Rice Flavoured with Gochujang

Vegetarian Bibimbap: Korean Rice with Vegetables Flavoured with Gochujang

Vegetarian Bibimbap: Korean Rice with Protein and Vegetables

Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish in which rice is mixed with a whole lot of lightly sauteed vegetables, sprouts and meat, and flavoured with Gochujang, the Korean Chilli Paste. I have substituted meat with paneer (you can also use Tofu) in this Vegetarian Bibimbap.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine Korean
Servings 8 People

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker
  • Sautee Pan
  • Large Shallow Dish for Serving

Ingredients
  

For The Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Gochujang Paste
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil (I used Chinese Sesame Oil)
  • 1 tsp Sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp Roasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce (See Notes)
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Water

Vegetables

  • 1 Medium-Sized Carrot (~75 gms)
  • 1 Small Zucchini (~100 gms)
  • 5 to 6 Large Button Mushrooms (~100 gms)
  • 1/2 Cup Moong Sprouts (~50 gms, See Notes)
  • 100 gms Paneer or Tofu
  • 1 Large Bunch Spinach (~150 gms)
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1/2 tsp Roasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Others

  • 1 Cup Rice
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • Salt to Taste

Instructions
 

Making the Sauce for Bibimbap

  • Mix all ingredients listed under the sauce and set aside.

Cooking the Rice

  • Wash the rice well and pressure cook in 3.5 cups water till done.
  • Let the rice cool completely.

Getting the Vegetables and Paneer

  • Peel and cut the carrot into 2" think sticks.
  • Cut the zucchini into small 1/4" pieces
  • Cut the mushrooms into thin slices.
  • Cut the paneer into 1/2" cubes.

Cooking the Vegetables and Paneer

  • In a pan, heat a few drops of oil, and add carrot sticks and a pinch of salt. .
  • Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • In a pan, heat a few drops of oil, and add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. .
  • Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • In a pan, heat a few drops of oil, and add sprouts and a pinch of salt. .
  • Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • In a pan, heat a few drops of oil, and add Zucchini and a pinch of salt.
  • Saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Boil 3 cups of water with 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Turn off the heat and add the spinach. Let the spinach blanch in the hot water for 30 seconds.
  • Using a colander, drain all the hot water and rinse in cold water.
  • Drizzle 1/2 tsp sesame oil and 1/2 tsp roasted sesame seeds. Set aside.

Serving the Vegetarian Bibimbap

  • Transfer the sauce into a bowl.
  • Spread the rice on a larger platter.
  • Place individual vegetables and paneer on top of the rice.
  • Place the bowl of sauce in the platter.

Eating the Bibimbap

  • Just before serving, mix all ingredients well.
  • Serve individual portions.

Notes

  • I had some Chinese Sesame Oil and I used that for cooking. This oil has a distinct smoky flavour that is lacking in our sesame oil, and adds a new level of flavour to the Bibimbap, and indeed all South East Asian cooking.
  • The Koreans use bean sprouts which I substituted with moon sprouts. Let the moong sprout for at least 2 days.
  • I used soy sauce in the Bibimbap sauce because the meat (when used) is marinated in soy sauce (among other ingredients), and I did not want to miss out on the flavour of the soy sauce. 
  • You can use other vegetables like Cabbage, Bell Peppers, etc.
  • I plan to use Soy Granules/Chunks the next time in place of the meat.
Keyword Bibimbap, Koream Mixed Rice with Vegetables, Korean Fried Rice, Vegetarian Bibimbap

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