Bibimbap (Korean Fried Rice)

BibimbapBibimbap is one of those satisfying, all-in-one type dishes that once you have it, you want it again and again.  I came across a recipe that made bibimbap into a homemade, healthier, vegetarian version.  I have now made it about three times, with different veggies every time, and the result is always great.  Below are some suggested variations on the recipes, and how to end up with a great dish.

Here’s what you need:

Must haves regardless of the variation (you will use all these ingredients no matter which variation you choose)

4 cups cooked sushi rice (or other thick, white rice)

1 onion, sliced

1 head of kale (or other leafy green), stems removed, cut into pieces

1 block extra firm tofu, cut into chunks, or other vegetarian protein (you could use seitan or I use something called tempha from Dave’s Korean at my local farmers market that is made with brown rice,

4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (I found a great sweet soy sauce at the Korean market, if you can’t find one, just mix a tablespoon of molasses or honey with 4 tablespoons soy sauce)

1-2 heaping tablespoons gochujan (Korean red chile pepper paste)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Variation 1 ingredients (here is one version I made; feel free to use some or all of these ingredients with those listed above, or combine with some of the ones listed in Variation 2):

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 lb shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced into strips
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 2 egg whites

Variation 2 ingredients (here is another version I tried; same instructions, use all or some of these ingredients, and feel free to combine some with Variation 1):

  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets, microwaved for about 4 minutes with a little water in the bottom of the bowl and covered
  • 1 medium Japanese sweet potato (or regular sweet potato, the kind that is white on the inside is best), cooked (either microwaved or baked) and cut into cubes
  • 3 green onions, green parts sliced

Here’s what you do:

1.  Make sure your rice is cooked and slightly cooled.

2.  For whichever variation you are using (or combination thereof), make sure all your ingredients are ready to go:  Cut up your veggies.  Precook your sweet potato and cauliflower.  Cut up your tofu and allow it to drain a bit by placing it between paper towels with a heavy plate on top.

3.  When everything is ready, it’s time to get cooking.  Basically, you are going to cook an item, remove it from the pan and transfer it to a plate, add a new item to the skillet, and cook.  At the end, you will throw in the rice and then add all the veggies back with it.  Here we go.

  • Onion and kale:  Heat 1/2 to 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over high heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften.  Add the kale.  Continue cooking until the onion is fully cooked and the kale has wilted.  Remove to a plate.
  • Tofu/Protein, Garlic and Ginger:  Heat 1/2 to 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and ginger (if you are using) and cook for about a minute.  Then, add the tofu (or other protein), and allow to brown on all sides as you stir around occasionally.  When the tofu is almost cooked, add half the sweet soy sauce and the hoisin sauce (if you are using).  Stir around, and remove to a plate.
  • Shitake Mushrooms and Zucchini OR Cauliflower and Sweet Potato:  Heat 1/2 to 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet over high heat.  Add the shitake mushrooms or cauliflower and cook for about 5 minutes.  Then, add your zucchini or sweet potato.  If adding zucchini, cook until it is fully done, about 5 minutes.  If adding sweet potato, gently mix with the cauliflower for about a minute.  Remove to a plate.

4. Now it’s time for the rice and to bring it all together.  First, add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan.  Let it heat, and then add the rice.  Spread the rice around the pan, and add the gochujang and the remaining sweet soy sauce.  Mix well to incorporate.  Add the veggies and protein back to the rice mixture and continue mixing well to incorporate and scraping the rice off the bottom of the pan.  If you are using green onion, add it now.  If you want to add egg to your fried rice, make a well in the center of the rice (so you can see the bottom of the skillet), pour the eggs into the hole, and allow to cook a minute or two before mixing to incorporate.  Continue to cook the rice, and scrape the bottom of the pan, for about another 3-5 minutes.  Then turn off the heat, scoop into a bowl, and enjoy!


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