Classic Korean Bibimbap

Classic Korean Bibimbap

Bibimbap is arguably one of the most well-known Korean dishes around the world. What makes this meal stand out? Not only is it a Korean classic, but it's also delicious, beautifully colorful, and easily tweaked for endless variations.

A combination of the Korean words for mixing (bibim) and rice (bap), bibimbap calls for combining rice with an assortment of vegetables. It's typically served with scoops of vegetable neatly laid out on top of the rice, then mixed tableside. To eat, add a small amount of sesame oil and desired amount of gochujang to your finished bowl and mix everything together with a spoon.

What Are the Ingredients for Classic Bibimbap?

Bibimbap is known for its versatility, but there are several classic ingredients. The dish typically features a mix of cooked vegetables, such as sautéed carrots and mushrooms, along with seasoned vegetables (known as namul in Korean), like spinach and mung bean sprouts.

While optional, if you want to add meat, both raw—the most traditional preparation—and cooked meat work well. Koreans usually eat this rice dish with some beef.

What Kind of Rice Is Best for Bibimbap?

Korean cuisine typically calls for medium or short-grain rice. Medium-grain rice, also known as Calrose rice, is not quite as starchy as short-grain rice (the one used for sushi), but the two are often used interchangeably.

Gochujang, a Versatile Korean Pantry Staple

Gochujang, a fermented chile pepper paste, is an essential ingredient in the Korean pantry. Here, a dollop of gochujang is added to the bibimbap before it's mixed, adding a nice kick of heat to each spoonful of rice and vegetables. Now that you have a tub in the fridge, consider using gochujang in any of these delicious recipes:

  • Gochujang Vinaigrette
  • Chogochujang Dipping Sauce
  • Yukaejang (Spicy Beef Soup)
  • Daeji Bulgogi (Spicy Pork)
  • Spicy Korean Coleslaw

Classic Korean Bibimbap

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

“Preparing the different vegetables takes some time, but the resulting bowls of bibimbap are so colorful and delicious! There was a wonderful mixture of textures and flavors, and you can add as much or as little gochujang as your palate can handle. I also cooked some marinated beef from my local Korean market and a fried egg to make it an even more filling meal.” —Patty Lee

Classic Bibimbap Recipe Tester Photo A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 cups medium-grain Korean, or Japanese rice

  • 1 large cucumber, sliced into thin strips

  • 1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided, more as needed

  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil, divided, more as needed

  • 2 dashes sesame seeds, divided

  • 1 pound spinach

  • 2 medium carrots, sliced into thin strips

  • 10 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated if dried, sliced

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin strips

  • 1/2 pound cooked beef, optional

  • Fried or medium-soft boiled eggs, optional

  • Gochujang, or red pepper paste, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic Korean Bibimbap ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop.

    Cook rice on stove in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Place the cucumbers in a strainer set over a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss with your hands and let stand for about 20 minutes. Rinse under running water, then drain.

    Drain cucumber strips

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the mung beans and blanch for 30-60 seconds, until slightly wilted at the tips but still crunchy. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a small bowl.

    Cool until safe enough to handle, then gently squeeze of excess water over the sink. Season bean sprouts with 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a dash of sesame seeds.

    Season bean sprouts with sesame oil, salt, and a dash of sesame seeds

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Return the pot of water to a boil and add the spinach in handfuls. Cook until the spinach has wilted, 1-2 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a medium bowl.

    Cool until safe enough to handle, then squeeze the spinach of excess water over the sink. Season with the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining sesame seeds.

    Season spinach with sesame oil, salt, and sesame seeds

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Add a drizzle of oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the carrots with a dash of salt until tender, but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

    Sauté carrots with salt

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Next, sauté the mushrooms with a dash of salt, adding more oil if needed. Cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

    Sauté mushrooms with salt

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  8. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan. Sauté the zucchini with a dash of salt until tender, about 4 minutes.

    Sauté zucchini with salt

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  9. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl and arrange vegetables on top.

    Place the cooked rice in a large bowl and arrange vegetables on top

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  10. If desired, beef, egg, or both can be placed in the center.

    Add egg to the bibimbap in the bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  11. Serve each helping with small bowls of gochujang and sesame oil.

    Classic Korean Bibimbap

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Recipe Variations

  • This recipe includes 6 vegetables, but you can instead make it with just 3 or 4 veggies or with whatever you happen to have in your fridge.
  • Substitute the white rice with brown rice, if desired.
  • You can also top bibimbap with just an egg fried sunny-side up. The reason this dish is so popular is that it’s not only very tasty, but it’s also completely versatile.

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