Yesterday we had bibimbap (Korean mixed rice dish) packed with fresh veggies with no cheese or meat, and munchkin loved it! How? She helped to make it and saw all of us eating from the bowl she prepared. My not-yet-two-year-old felt proud of cooking(?) food for her parents and repeatedly said “yummy” while eating her portion. The same food she refused to eat last time I made it for her.
I have a long history of eating bibimbap as my fellow Koreans. Quite impossible to estimate how many bowls I ate in my life so far. Among those countless meals, I vividly remember two dishes.
I believe I was in middle school. One of my brilliant classmates brought a giant metal bowl and gochujang (red chili paste) to school. We dumped all of our lunches (mostly rice and banchan) into the bowl, mixed them up with gochujang, and we all ate straight from the bowl. I’m pretty sure the flavor combination wasn’t the greatest but spontaneously sharing a giant bowl of bibimbap with all my friends became one of the warmest memories of my childhood.
The other time was in my mid-20s during summer time. I was hanging out outdoor with my best friend under the fierce sun when we found a banner in front of a restaurant saying “micro-green bibimbap.” It sounded refreshing and oh yes, it was. I almost felt rejuvenated after eating all that fresh micro-greens. Until then, bibimbap meant hot sizzling meat, veggies, and rice served in a clay pot with a lot of gochujang and runny yolk. Namely, Jeonju bibimbap. I still love them, but my go-to recipe for homemade bibimbap is with lots of fresh vegetables.
Yesterday’s dinner was inspired by both events. I wanted something refreshing and also a communal activity. Watch munchkin making bibimbap.
Making delicious veggie bibimbap
One of my favorite ingredients in bibimbap is cucumber. It gives a nice crunch. It’s extra delicious when the cucumbers are thinly sliced using a mandoline and slightly seasoned. I seasoned them with lemon, coconut sugar, and salt. (See recipe at the end of the post.)
Bean sprouts are munchkin’s favorite, so I feel obligated to make some. Perhaps she thinks they are crunchy noodles? They are cooked in water and then seasoned with salt, garlic, and sesame oil.
Some other essentials?
Sesame oil. Don’t substitute with other oils. Whenever I did (because I ran out of sesame oil), I couldn’t get over the intrusive scent of other oils. And obviously, gochujang. I’m starting to see gochujang in American grocery stores in my neighborhood, which makes me very happy.
If you enjoyed this post, also check out my Japchae recipe.
Blissful Veggie Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice dish)
Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice dish) filled with fresh vegetables with toddler-friendly non-spicy sauce. Vegan, Nut-free, Dairy-free
- 1 cup sweet and sour cucumber see recipe below
- 1 cup lightly seasoned bean sprouts see recipe below
- 1 cup micro-greens
- 1 cup red cabbage shredded
- 1 package firm tofu chopped
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 3 cup brown rice cooked
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp gochujang
- extra gochujang optional for adults
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
Make the sauce by combining soy sauce, maple syrup, sesame oil, and gochujang in a container and shake vigorously.
TOFU: Pat dry tofu with a kitchen towel to remove moisture. Coat tofu chunks with potato starch. Heat 3 tbsp cooking oil in a pan over medium heat. Place tofu chunks in the pan and fry all sides until golden brown. Take care to not overcrowd the tofu to prevent sticking together.
In a big bowl, place rice, cucumber, bean sprouts, micro-greens, cabbage, tofu, and sauce. Mix well. Add additional gochujang, if desired.
Sweet and Sour Cucumber
Lightly seasoned raw cucumber slices. Great for a side dish and in bibimbap.
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
Using a mandoline, thinly slice the cucumbers
Using your hand, massage cucumber slices with coconut sugar, juice of lemon, and salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
Lightly Seasoned Bean Sprouts
Light and refreshing bean sprouts. Great for a side dish and in bibimbap.
- 1 lb bean sprouts tails cut off
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1~2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Place bean sprouts in a pot and cover with water. Add 1 tbsp cider vinegar and 1 tbsp of salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes with the pot uncovered.
Drain the bean sprouts and give a cold shower.
Using your hand, massage bean sprouts with garlic, sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp of salt.