Best ever meal-in-a-bowl!

When you talk to people about Korean food, there are some dishes that you would expect them to know about, such as kimchi, bulgogi and galbi. However, with the increasing interest in Korean cuisine and number of Korean eateries and grocery stores popping up all over the place, other dishes are beginning to increase in popularity…from nakji bokkeum (spicy stir-fried octopus) to the dish being featured in today’s post, bibim bap.

This is a dish with no hard-and-fast recipe, almost like pizza in this regard – so long as you have your chan gi rhem (sesame seed oil), gochujjang (Korean chilli paste), white medium-grain rice and some veggies (preferably an array of banchan), you can’t really go wrong. It can be made to suit any variety of tastes, and is a dish that vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike can all enjoy!

Versatility, thy name is bibim bap!

This dish has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. You can make a beautifully presented dish like this at home, or go out to a restaurant and enjoy dolsot bibim bap – almost the same idea as this dish, except that it is presented in a stone bowl that has been heated up quite hot, then had a little sesame oil poured into the bottom before the rice and banchan are added. This ‘fries’ the bottom layer of rice in contact with the bowl to a crunchy, toasted rice layer called ‘nooroong-ji‘, which many Koreans enjoy almost as others would a regular rice cracker!

I received an email request a few days ago from a lass who told me that she had had this dish at a Korean restaurant but was having difficulty finding a recipe. Of course, I was more than happy to acquiesce, except for one problem. I didn’t really have a recipe. Y’see, this dish actually originated as a way for people to enjoy the leftover rice and banchan in the kitchen before making up some fresh batches, and that was the way that I usually had it! When there was just a few ladles of rice left in the rice cooker, I’d pull out the metal bowl, dump whatever banchan were in the fridge on top, add a spoon or so of Korean chilli paste and a dollop of sesame seed oil and mix it all together and eat it as is!

It may sound horrendous, but anyone who has grown up in a Korean household will be veeery familiar with this practice!

Anyway, since that wasn’t much of a recipe, I had to turn to my mother for a hand in creating this post, arguing with her over translations and trying (in vain!) to get her to use measuring spoons and scales so I could work out measurements!

Now, one final note before I continue through to the recipe – this is a very involved, time-consuming dish to make if you’re not from a Korean family (which in turn means you’ll have half these ingredients in the fridge as banchan). However, there is a flip side to this – the recipe will give you roughly enough banchan for about 4 people, and the leftovers can be stored in little airtight containers and used to make more bibim bap later, a process which will then take you no more than about 5-15 minutes tops! How’s that for a payoff? :)

This photo shows you all the sections that are commonly presented with this dish – all the sections with Korean names are also eaten as banchan and therefore in learning to make this dish, you’ll actually be learning 5 Korean recipes in the 1!

Bi Bim Bap
(Makes approx 4-5 serves)

2x medium zucchini
2x medium onions
2x small-medium carrots
300g minced beef
500g fresh mung bean sprouts
3-4 spring onions
9-10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch spinach

2x cloves garlic
Sesame seed oil
Olive oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Fish sauce
Soy sauce
Gochujjang (Korean chilli paste)
4x eggs, fried

2-3 cups cooked white medium-grain rice

Preparation of banchan ingredients

Ho-bak Bokkeum
(Sauteed Zucchini)
Sukju Namul Muchim
(Seasoned Mung Bean Sprouts)
Shigemchi Muchim
(Sauteed Spinach)
Pyogo Bohsot
(Shiitake Mushrooms)
2x medium zucchini
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil1. Wash the zucchini, then top and tail them and cut them into pieces about 5-6cm long.2. Take one piece (it should be a short cylinder), and place one of the cut round ends face-down on the chopping board. Proceed to slice into ‘sheets’ about 5mm thick.3. Cut out any seeds, then julienne the zucchini ‘sheets’ into short strips about 5-6cm long and 3-4mm thick. 

4. Put the zucchini strips into a non-reactive bowl, pour over the fish sauce and lightly toss through with your fingers till they are evenly coated. Set them aside till they have wilted – about 10-20 minutes.

5. Strain the zucchini, then squeeze out all excess moisture and set aside.

6. Preheat a frying pan or wok with a little olive oil till hot, then add the zucchini, garlic and salt and sautée till they’ve softened a bit more and absorbed the flavour of the salt and garlic.

7. Remove from heat, and once cooled, store in an airtight container.

500g fresh mung bean sprouts
2x cloves garlic, minced
3-4 spring onions
Sesame seed oil
Toasted sesame seeds1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then blanch the mung bean sprouts by adding them to the water and leaving them for a minute or two, till they begin to soften. Immediately drain them but DO NOT RINSE1! Instead, leave them to cool in the colander, occasionally giving them a toss.2. While they’re cooling, rinse the spring onion and slice them on the bias into pieces about 2-3mm thick. Add these to the blanched bean shoots, along with the garlic, salt, sesame seeds and sesame oil, then lightly toss through with your hand till they are evenly coated. 

3. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

1 – The reason that you do not refresh the bean shoots in cold water after blanching is that this causes them to retain more moisture, weighing down the shoots and making them soggy.

1x bunch spinach
Sesame seed oil
Toasted sesame seeds1. Remove the roots from the spinach, then give them a thorough rinse to get rid of as much dirt as possible.2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then add the spinach and make sure it is submerged for a few minutes (or till wilted but not completely cooked). 

3. Drain spinach and rinse thoroughly in a few changes of cold water, till the colour is a vibrant green and there is no more green in the rinsing water.

4. Drain well, then take small handfuls and squeeze out as much water as you can, whilst being careful not to mush the spinach entirely.

5. Roughly chop into easy-to-eat lengths, then put into a bowl, along with enough salt to season and the sesame seeds and sesame oil.

6. Toss through evenly, then store in an airtight container once cooled.

9-10 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp sesame seed oil1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then add the dried shiitake mushrooms and boil till well softened.2. Rinse in cold water then drain well, squeezing out any excess liquid, and remove the fibrous stems and cut into strips about 3-4mm thick. 

3. Preheat a frying pan, then add the mushrooms, soy sauce and sesame oil and stir fry over high heat till the mushrooms have heated through and absorbed all the soy sauce and oil.

4. Set aside till needed.

Preparation of non-banchan ingredients

Marinated Beef Mince Carrots Onions
300g beef mince
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
1/2 – 1 tsp sugar
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Oil1. Mix together the beef mince, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper, then leave to sit for about 10 minutes.2. Heat up a frying pan with a little oil, then add the mince and fry, making sure to break up any clumps into little pieces. Once browned and cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside till needed.
2x medium carrots
Oil1. Peel carrots, then cut them into pieces about 5-6cm long. Slice these into sheets, then julienne to the same size as the zucchini.2. Heat a frying pan with a little oil, then saut̩e the carrots till they are softened (but not completely soft Рthey must retain some bite). Season with a little salt and set aside.
2x medium carrots
Oil1. Peel onions, cut them in half then slice them lengthwise (so you get strips and not half-circles).2. Heat a frying pan with a little oil, then sautée onion till softened and they become pearly and translucent. Season with a little salt, then set aside.

When making this dish at home, it is usually presented in a MYO manner – each person takes a dish then adds as much rice and banchan as they desire. This means they can have a dish they will enjoy, as well as controlling the heat in the dish from the gochujjang. The banchan are added first, then the gochujjang and sesame oil and egg before the entire thing is mixed into a delicious mess!

To Make Bibim Bap:

1. Add some cooked rice to a bowl (about half as much rice as you would usually have), then add small amounts of each of the banchan that you would like on top.

2. Add as much gochujjang as you wish (start with about 1 tsp as you can add more later), then about 1 tsp sesame seed oil and a fried egg on top. Use your spoon and proceed to thoroughly mix up all the ingredients of the dish till it is evenly and well combined. Taste, and add any more gochujjang or banchan that you need, then settle down and enjoy your bowl o’ goodness!

Now, I know that you’ve just read through this page and baulked at the amount of work involved, but just bear this in mind – any leftover prepared ingredients can be stored in airtight containers in the fridge for up to a week, which means you can keep them to make a bowl of bibim bap later when you don’t really feel like cooking!


This is one of the few Korean recipes which is extremely easy to make vegetarian/vegan friendly. The following substitutions can be made according to what you’re after:

  • Mince: Equivalent weight of firm tofu, crumbled into small pieces and marinated and fried in the same way, beware not to overcook as it can disintegrate.
  • Fish Sauce: A little konbu or mushroom dashi powder (Japanese soup stock powder) dissolved in hot water
  • Egg: Pffth. Just omit if you wish!

[tags]Korean cuisine, bibim bap, rice, banchan, recipes[/tags]

Others who have tried this recipe:


  1. wowww….that bibimbap looks better than any of the ones i’ve seen in restaurants! i’m going to give it a go soon! thanks for the informative post!

  2. My pleasure! I hope you did manage to give it a try and that you enjoyed it :)

  3. I’ve never had bibimbap before but i’ve always seen it on dramas 😆 so I decided to make it for my hubby and he loved it… said it was a lot healthier way to eat so now he makes it for me 😆 your recipes are so easy to follow i look forward to eating it everytime

  4. woaah, thats great meal 😉
    love bibimbap 😀

  5. Hi, I’m Korean .
    I’ve been looking for a recipe for my American friends.
    thanks alot. it’s the best recipe i’ve ever seen before for Americans. 😆

  6. @ThiThi – I’m so glad that you tried it out and enjoyed it! Thank you for letting me know, because it makes me happy to know that people are enjoying the blog!

    @Irena – One of my favourites! :)

    @Kim – My pleasure!

  7. Hey Ellie,

    Great recipe! Do you know how the stone/ceramic bowls for dolsot bibim bap are usually heated up in Korea? The recipes I’ve found on the internet say to heat them in the oven, but I don’t think ovens are so common in Korea. I bought a ceramic bowl from a small Korean grocery store, but unfortunately the guy who was working at the time I bought it wasn’t sure how it should be heated. Dolsot bibim bap is one of my all-time favourite cold-day comfort foods.


    • They’re usually not heated when served at home since home-made bibimbap is a very quick affair. Ovens are much more common these days so an oven would be reasonable – though I believe that restaurants actually heat the bowls over coals to get them properly hot through and through.

  8. Is it necessary to heat the banchan before serving onto the rice, or is the hot rice enough to warm everything? I’ve eaten bibimbap before and love it, but not made it before, especially for a family of 6. Just trying to picture having all those banchan and rice hot at the same time…?

    And along the same lines – when the banchan is used as a side dish, is it OK to serve cold out of the fridge or should it be warm or room temperature? Kamsahamnida :smile:

    • Well, when it’s served at home in a Korean household, we usually just take the banchan straight from the fridge as the combined heat from the rice and the fried egg is enough to heat it. Same with when it is being used as a side dish. If you prefer, you can microwave for a minute or so to bring it to room temperature, but I’d only do this with side dishes that involve proteins such as tofu or fish.

  9. Hi! I had this sudden revelation to make home-made bibimbap today for dinner :) your recipe was really helpful! the bibimbap turned out great! just wanted to say thanks for sharing the recipe!

  10. I just had to say thank you!

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