I love bibimbap. Or, at least, the versions I’ve tried in NYC and LA. It’s comforting and flavorful and fun—I love stirring a raw egg into the crackling hot rice and veggies. If you’ve never had the Korean dish, it consists of rice, sliced meat like beef bulgogi, and quick-cooked veggies like spinach, carrots, mushrooms, and bean sprouts. The ingredients are lovingly arranged on top of the rice in separate piles with a raw egg cracked in the middle. Quick, stir up the hot mixture (that’s often served in a hot stone bowl) and watch as the egg cooks and the rice gets crispy. Eat!
I make a simplified, healthier, and bastardized version in my kitchen at home. This is not an authentic bibimbap, but rather a new dish that is highly inspired by the Korean dish. While brown rice finishes cooking and my eggs come to room temperature, I cook each vegetable separately, adding garlic, sesame oil and seeds, or soy sauce to flavor to each. I also cook up some tofu in lieu of beef. Then, instead of serving the dish individually, I arrange lovingly in a single (heated) pot. I crack the eggs on top, have everyone take a look at my masterpiece, and quickly stir the mixture up, cooking the egg. If your pot is hot enough, you’ll get some crispy rice around the edge, too. Serve it quick! A little gochujang or sriracha add a bit of welcome heat.
Note: You can swap out the veggies as you please. Just don’t over-cook them.
Easy Vegetarian “Bibimbap”
1 1/2 cups brown rice
grapeseed or canola oil
2 large carrots, julienned
1/2 medium onion, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 cup chopped snow peas
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds (plus more for garnish)
2 cups loosely packed spinach
1 large garlic cloved, minced
1/2 brick firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 eggs at room temperature
Gochujang or Sriracha, optional
Cook the rice according to the package directions. In the last 10-15 minutes, begin to cook your vegetables.
In a large skillet, add a glug of grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the carrots and stir, cooking 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender-crisp (about 3 minutes). Season with 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce and freshly-ground pepper. Deposit the carrots and onions in a bowl or on a plate.
Return the pan to the heat. Add the sesame oil followed by the snow peas. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes). Season with sesame seeds and empty onto a plate or in a bowl. Wipe out or rinse the pan if needed.
Meanwhile, put the rice pot back on the heat on medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and stir well.
Return the pan to the heat. Add a small amount of grapeseed oil and then the spinach. Stir until it begins to wilt and add the garlic. Cool until wilted and the garlic is cooked (about 3 minutes). Put on a plate or bowl.
Return the pan to the heat one last time. Add a glug of grapeseed oil and add the tofu. Season with salt and pepper and toss until lightly browned on all sides (3-5 minutes).
Turn the rice pot heat up the medium-high. Add each ingredient in a circular pattern (as seen in the photo above) on top of the rice. Crack two eggs in the middle and allow everyone a moment to ooh and ahh. Quickly stir up until the egg is mostly cooked and serve in bowls with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and chili sauce.