Do you remember my recent post for vegan katsu curry? If you recall, it was inspired by my frustration at eating a very mediocre version of that dish while out. Well, the story behind this recipe is pretty much the same. One evening, we came across a little, independent place in the centre of town that, alongside an omni menu, promised to serve an impressive selection of vegan versions of many Asian classics.
We were excited and hoping to finally find a place were we can dine out more regularly, but as soon as the dishes arrived and we tasted them, our excitement wore off. I had a vegan bibimbap, which was so uninspiring that I almost wanted to have a cry.
This classic Korean dish of ‘mixed rice’ is typically packed with texture and flavour, but this was anything but. Oh well. I guess you won’t know until you try. I decided to turn a negative into a positive and to make my own.
The most surprising thing is that a bibimbap is not hard to make at all. It typically consists of several raw and cooked elements brought together by the smoky and spicy Gochujang sauce made with Korean chilli peppers. This Korean pre-cursor to a trendy ‘buddha bowl’ should really have it all. It’s filling, delicious and well balanced if done well. Traditional versions feature short grain rice (like sushi rice, for example), but I went for a more nutritious brown rice in this case.
Like other dishes made of disparate ingredients that only get unified once the sauce gets stirred through, this dish is a perfect candidate for ingredient batch prepping in advance. Handy if, like me, you get so wrapped up in work that you often lack time to think about lunch. Actually, I am lying, I work with food, so I always have time to think about lunch, but a bit of forward planning for the days when I’m photographing is a real life saver.
- 200 g / 7 oz firm non-GMO (cotton not silken) tofu, pressed
- 4 tsp soy sauce or tamari for GF version)
- 1 tsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste) this is the one I used
- 2-4 tsp oil (I used rice bran oil)
- 100 g / 3½ oz mushrooms (shiitake if you can get them)
- 100 g / 3½ oz spinach
- 1 carrot shredded
- 50 g / 2 oz edamame beans
- ½ cup rice, cooked (I used brown)
- pickled daikon (see below)
- ½ long cucumber, finely sliced
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
PICKLED DAIKON (make a day in advance if you can)
- 100 g / 3½ oz daikon (or radishes)
- 60 ml / ¼ cup rice wine vinegar + 60-120 ml / ¼-½ cup water
- 2 tbsp sugar, adjust to taste
- 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste
- 2 tbsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
- 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari for GF version)
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or sugar dissolved in soy sauce)
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
- Cut a pressed block of tofu into equal size cubes – I got 12 out of mine.
- Place the tofu in a shallow bowl and pour soy sauce (mixed in with 1 tsp of Gochujang) over it. Set the tofu aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the marinade, making sure you turn the pieces to the other side at least once, halfway through.
- If you have a non-stick pan, you can pan-fry the tofu. Heat up 2 tsp of oil on a non-stick pan. Place the marinated tofu cubes into the hot oil. Fry, turning frequently until browned on all sides. Be careful as the tofu is likely to splatter a little bit initially.
- If you don’t have a non-stick pan or want to reduce the amount of oil you consume, you can also bake the tofu. Set the oven to 180° C / 355° F and place the marinated cubes of tofu on a baking sheet. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, turning once, halfway through.
PICKLED DAIKON (make a day in advance if you can)
- Slice the daikon into thin slices and place in a jar.
- Bring rice vinegar, water (60-120 ml / ¼-½ cup, depending how sharp you like your pickles), sugar and salt to a gentle boil.
- Pour the hot pickling liquid over the daikon. The pickles can be eaten straight away, but they are worth making a day in advance as their flavour develops with time. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.
- Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a medium size bowl.
- Heat up 2 tsp of oil in a medium non-stick pan. Throw in the mushrooms and fry them gently until they are nicely browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper once fried so that the mushrooms don’t release too much water during frying.
- Remove the mushrooms from the pan, throw in the spinach and a splash of water. Cook on a low heat, stirring from time to time, until the spinach wilts and most of the excess water cooks out. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide all the veggies and cooked tofu between two bowls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with the Gochujang dressing.
Yes, it can be eaten at room temperature certainly! Hope this helps. Ania
I swapped a few elements to what I had at home, so easy to do that with this recipe. Used quinoa instead of rice, but look forward to trying it with rice next time.
Added a little gochugaru to my pickling radish to spice it up.
Delicious! thank you.
I am not sure what you mean exactly as portion sizes are generally very subjective and these are simply based on my estimation of how much an average person would eat for a meal so whether I change it to say 2 or 3, it's still only my estimation. If you have specific guidelines for your sick child - I am sorry about this, it must be very stressful for you - surely these could help you to estimate how much food to serve to them? Ania
PS: forgot to say that you if store the components separate from the dressing in airtight containers, they can be kept in the fridge for a few days and reheated (except for the rice as that's better made fresh)
I am glad you enjoyed this dish overall. As for the saltiness, of course, it's best to adjust to your own taste as people's perceptions of how much salt is needed can differ quite a lot. Thanks for letting me know! Ania
Looking forward to try out some other recipes of yours.
I mention in the ingredients that it needs to be cooked, I don't go into details as the method depends on the rice variety and I wanted to allow for some flexibility. I add it at the end, warm. Hope that helps! Ania
I am glad that you enjoyed this dish. As for the prep, infusing things with flavour does usually take a bit of time and patience. Ania
Thanks for sharing 😊😊😊
That's interesting as when I click on this link these are the ingredients I get: Corn syrup, Rice, Water, Red pepper powder, Salt, Fermented soybean powder, Cooking rice wine, Garlic, Onion, Soy sauce(Water, Fermented soybean, Salt), Koji, Rice flour. I think what is happening is that Amazon updates that link automatically if the product we recommend isn't available where you live. Sorry about that. It is definitely possible to find Gochujang without gluten though. Here is one example I found on Amazon. I will update the recipe to say that not all Gochujang is gluten-free so that people are aware. Hope that helps! Ania
Also, I'm not into a lot of spicy/hot foots, I prefer things mild. Would 1/4 tsp of the Gochujang be enough to add flavour without too much heat?
I am excited to hear that you are planning to make this and I understand your hesitation if the flavours are new to you, but I would say that you should go with your palate as especially when it comes to spiciness it's very subjective. Start off with 1/4 tsp, taste and keep on increasing the amount until you are happy. As for the pickles, more water means less sharp pickles so I would say go with 120 ml to begin with and if you find them too mild, decrease the amount of water next time. Hope that helps and that it will be a pleasant experience! Ania
I didn't have the chance to try the pickled daikon - they didn't have any daikons or radishes at the store - but I'll definitely add it next time.
Oh no, sorry to hear! I have not been to Korea yet, but would love to visit at some point. Hope you managed to find some good food somehow!! x Ania
I'm in love with EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!
And I have a thing for Asian / Korean inspired food lately and I just made some quick pickled veggies the other day, inspired by you. Perfect timing, can't wait to dive into my pickled daikon jar and try this one too!!!
Thank you for the endless inspiration 💛
Thank you for sharing,