Cold Vegetarian Bibimbap (Korean Rice Salad)

bibimbap2pMost of you have probably heard about the famous Bibimbap, but I bet Cold Bibimbap is much less popular. When I saw it first time on cHow Divine blog, the idea was so seducing, I made it in the following two hours and loved it, in spite of some forced modifications. When I finally prepared it with all the required products, it tasted even better and now I am an avowed addict of Cold Bibimbap.

In spite of its exotic name, this dish contains ingredients easily available all year and in most countries in the world (apart from gochujang; see the TIPS below). It is perfect not only as a hot day, soothing meal, but also an excellent way to deal with leftover rice. For me it’s most of all a very original alternative to one-meal rice salads I have been preparing for long years, but in a rather European way, i.e. with mayonnaise or vinaigrette dressing. Thank you so much, Gomo, for one more extraordinary Korean discovery.

I have slightly modified the amounts, scaling down the recipe and also replaced salt with soy sauce. Gomo indicates walnuts, sesame seeds, spring onions and dates as optional toppings. For me the three first have become obligatory, but I haven’t used dates yet (I must admit I’m not very fond of them). Click here to see Gomo’s original recipe, as well as lots of other fascinating and tempting Korean dishes.

TIPS: You will be surprised to see that all the ingredients are easily available in most countries, though, like in most fiery Korean dishes I know, the presence of gochujang (Korean hot and sweet chilli paste) is crucial. I strongly encourage you to buy it if you intend to cook Korean cuisine, even rarely. Gochujang is sold on internet, keeps for ages in the fridge and you can play with it in Western dishes too. It cannot be substituted by any other chili paste, so if you cannot get it, I advise using more syrup and adding some powdered chilli. The result will not be the same of course, but it’s still better than using Chinese or Thai chilli paste for example.

The gochujang amount given below depends on how hot you like your dishes to be and also on the gochujang’s hotness level (mine was medium hot; grade 3).

Do not skip the walnuts! They are here not only for the additional crunchy texture, but they significantly enrich the bibimbap’s flavours with their slight bitterness.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

300 g (about 1 1/2 cup) cooked short grain white rice

half of a 400 g/14 oz can of red beans

1 avocado

1 small carrot, grated

two handfuls of sliced crunchy lettuce (or other crunchy salad leaves)

1/2 long cucumber


1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

3-4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

3-4 tablespoons chopped green onions or chives

(dried dates)


1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon syrup of your choice or honey (I have used agave syrup)

1 heaped tablespoon gochujang (or less/more, see the TIPS above)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Cut the cucumber in half, lenghtwise.

(You can remove the seeds if you wish; I didn’t).

Slice the halves, sprinkle with salt and let it soften for about 10-15 minutes.

Rinse them,  drain and pat dry.

If you kept your rice in the fridge, reheat it in a microwave (covered) until it’s slightly warm (not hot!). Thus, it will be easier to separate the grains.

Cut the avocado into cubes.

Drain the beans.

In a big bowl mix all the dressing ingredients, adjust the taste if needed, and combine with the rice, the avocado, the cucumber slices, the grated carrot, the lettuce and the beans.

Serve sprinkled with walnuts, sesame seeds, green onions or chives (if you like dried dates, you might try them too).

56 Replies to “Cold Vegetarian Bibimbap (Korean Rice Salad)”

  1. Oh Sissi, this look so good, love the colors and the flavors…and perfect for Summer…and yes, I would never skip the walnuts.
    Have a lovely week 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Juliana, for all the compliments. Walnuts were surprisingly terrific here.

  2. Once again we’re on the same page! I saw this a while back and have it on my list as a recipe to make soon! I love bibimbap and have been making a non-vegetarian version for many years now, but I love this version. I like the changes you made (I questioned the dates as well), so now I’ll be referring to both of y’alls wonderful dishes when I go to make mine. Lovely bowl of bibimbap Sissi! Thanks!

    1. Hi, MJ. I’m thrilled once more to learn you like the same dish I do! Thank you for the compliments!

  3. Have not quite made it this way and shall certainly try. Love dried dates and do have them in the house so no problems except I normally eat brown rice 😀 !

    1. Hi, Eha. I eat brown rice very rarely (I find it difficult to digest… or rather my body does 😉 ).

  4. Although I would love to try the original fiery dish, I think I will settle with the milder version haha! This looks like a delicious dish Sissi just like everything you make! Thanks for yet another Asian dish!

    1. Thanks a lot, Katerina. For a milder version, you simply add less gochujang, but it’s worth tasting. It’s not very hot (at least my medium hot one) but brings a lot of wonderful taste.

  5. I love bibimbap! I was thinking about visiting favorite Korean eatery the other day, got busy couldn’t make it. No, I’m not familiar with cold bibimbap but this looks awesome! Especially in hot weather.

  6. Bibimbap! I bet this version is excellent for the end of summer. Bibimbap is so pretty in its simplicity and colour… but I can never bring myself to order it in a restaurant because it just seems like the kind of dish to always make at home, especially with leftovers (I think this is how it works in Korean households anyhow, with all the leftover ban chan?). Thanks for this recipe, Sissi! Looks lovely.

    1. Thank you so much, Irina. This is terrific when it’s hot and you have some leftover rice. I have never had the warm bibimbap, can you believe it? Like most Korean dishes, I’ll have to do it on my own.

  7. Hi Sissi, I can attest that cold bibimbap is actually delicious! If you have a chance to come here we can eat at a nearby Korean restaurant, and they have something called “dolsot bibimbap”. It’s cold, compared to regular bibimbap which is so hot it’s spitting and sizzling as they bring it to you in the hot “caquelon” (I’m not sure what the best translation to English that is from French). It’s actually a fair bit different from your version here, but this also looks very nice – and super simple to prepare too. Not sure if I’d enjoy the dried dates on it… might be a bit sweet for me. Did you try them? How was it if so?

    1. Hi, Charles. I haven’t tried dates because I hate them even in sweet dishes. I must taste the warm bibimbap now! Thank you for the kind proposition… I am worried I will never manage to come to Paris before you leave.

  8. Dear Sissi!
    We seem to be on the same wavelength!
    First I reported on that binbimba bento, and then I gd dinner with the Dragon at a korean restaurant 2 nights ago! LOL
    Interestingly enough here in Japan they pronounce “Bibimba” with no “p”.
    Korean can become great vegetarian food indeed and your recipe is simply beautiful!
    Best regards,

    1. Thank you so much, Robert-Gilles. I remember very well your bibimbap bento. I know you don’t pronounce the “p” in Japan (actually I have no idea how to pronounce it in Korean 😉 ).

  9. Sissi, I adore your colorful, flavorful Korean Rice Salad. It is a perfect summer dish with minimal preparation, and yet, its so exotic and creative that your guests would think you ordered this from an Asian restaurant!

  10. I love bibimbap! This Cold Vegetarian Bibimbap version is sure unique yet still packed with all those lovely flavors. Best of all, it’s perfect for those hot summer days. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Amy. I think I will have it as a leftover rice dish throughout the year… not only in the summer.

  11. Gorgeous sissi! And such a great idea! You’re right– I’ve heard a lot about bibimbap (in fact, have had it so many times because Korean food is one of my favourite cuisines) but just never a cold version. This is so perfect for when the weather’s hot and you can’t stand the thought of eating something steaming hot! I will have to bookmark this for a hot day though- the weather’s gone all rainy and shitty in London as we head towards September 🙁

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan. If I were you I would try it whatever the weather. It’s also a perfect way to use up rice in a quick way.

  12. First of all, what a gorgeous looking dish! Très bien réussi ma belle. Your Korean salad does have an exotic name (a pretty one at that) but I’m pleased to see, as you suggest, that these are all very accessible/common ingredients only mixed up in a beautiful new way ;-). I love these sorts of salads under any appellation (reminds me of Chirashi Sushi or Zen bowls ;-)) and eat them regularly. The use of the Korean chili paste sounds divine here (as do the dates – yum!). Have a nice weekend Sissi :).

    1. Merci beaucoup, Kelly. I also prepare similar salads quite often, but this one (mainly thanks to the Korean sauce) was really special.

  13. One day I’m going to try Korean cooking especially bibimbap which has such an intriguing name to start with. 🙂 This cold salad does seem to be very tasty.

    Right now, I’m trying to use up ingredients/spices/pastes which are already crowding my pantry. I went out of town on Friday in London, Ontario and was introduced to a Hungarian restaurant by my nephew … the wiener schnitzel was wonderful as were the nokedli. The cabbage rolls weren’t as good as my mum’s. In any case, I think I’m going to return to Hungary for my next few cooking attempts.

    I finally had a chance to go to my parents’ old bungalow, the first time in 2 years, which is falling apart from neglect. My brother has been talking about bulldozing the place so I went through the kitchen and saved some kitchen gadgets including a pasta maker, ravioli press and cannoli forms. As you can imagine, Italian food is also going to be on my menu.

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. Some dishes are just the best when home-made… I’m looking forward to read about your Italian and Hungarian adventures in the kitchen.

      1. I revisited the recipe based on your recommendation of making it with the kidney style dried beans I found. I think I would enjoy it though I do have some reservations about the dates as well.

        1. If you like walnuts, make sure you add some. As I have already mentioned somewhere, walnuts go particularly well with the Korean sweet & hot flavours (for me at least!). Here – for me – the obligatory ingredients are avocado, beans, green onions, rice and cucumber (but I remember you don’t like it… so skip it of course) and of course the sauce (one more reason to buy gochujang 😉 ). Carrot goes perfectly with most Korean seasoning ingredients too.
          Now I often play with ingredients: I sometimes add the salad, sometimes not. Sometimes I add some fried bacon cut into pieces, sometimes a hard-boiled egg… sometimes pieces of roast chicken… It’s become one of my favourite summer office lunches and the gochujang-based sauce is a nice change from vinaigrette or mayonnaise. Anyway, good luck!

          1. I’m amazed that you remembered one of my many food dislikes. 🙂 It sounds like there are lots of add ins possible which would use up leftovers from the fridge. If it weren’t pouring rain right now, I’d jump into the car and finally make that International grocery store visit to see if they have the gochujang. 🙂

            1. Haha! I remember probably because I post so many cucumber dishes and cucumber is among my top three vegetables 😉
              If you like a combination of sweet and hot flavours, you will fall in love with gochujang and put it everywhere, like me (I added it successfully to Hungarian sauerkraut stew, I mix it with sour cream or yogurt and it is a delicious sauce/dip for wraps, etc..).

  14. Thank you so much for your kind words and the link Sissi! Don’t know why I didn’t get a pingback. Your bibimbap looks fabulous. It would make a perfect summer dish. I’m not crazy about the dried Asian dates either unless I’m actually cooking them in something. I don’t know if you can get your hands on dried Deglet Noor dates, but those are really yummy in this. Gorgeous photo! Thanks again! xo

    1. Dear Gomo, thank you for the compliments. I am very grateful for this fabulous recipe. I have made it so many times (frankly speaking I have all the ingredients most of the time in my kitchen, so it’s so convenient too!) and plan to do it throughout the year. I have never tasted Asian dates. I thought you meant regular dates which I find horribly sweet… I must taste the Asian ones! I will ask for them in my Asian shop. (I will correct my post!).

  15. What a nice, light refreshing salad to finish up the summer with. I can see this salad with barley or wheat berries too. I love all of the ingredients and together they sound absolutely delightful. We’re at a friends cottage right now and we’re driving home tomorrow and then we’re going to our cottage on Wednesday. I will try to get this on our menu for this week end.

    1. Thanks a lot, Eva. I am crazy for white Japanese rice, so I would never exchange it for anything (especially since I have leftover rice at least twice a week), but of course you can prepare it with any grains. I am very curious about the outcome of your experiments. Have a wonderful time at your cottage!

  16. Hi Sissi,
    Just discovered your blog when blog hopping.
    Great recipes and beautiful pictures. Love the cold rice salad, looks so tasty and well balanced!

  17. Reading about bibimbap has just kick started a craving – been years since I had it. One of my memorable ones was on a Korean Air flight – tasted good, bibimbap travels well:)
    This sounds like a United Nations version, containing avocado, dates and walnuts. Might as well throw in some blood sausage and siso, but leave herring out of this one:)
    Hope your summer is going well and you are having lots of good weather. One of my best friends just moved to Lugano, says it beautiful, and good food because of proximity to Italiano.

    1. Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. Actually you would be surprised how many Korean recipes call for walnuts. I have a traditional Korean cookery book where lots of recipes call for walnuts. They are apparently regularly used in certain parts of Korea.
      I have no idea about avocado, but I have just learnt from Gomo she meant Asian dates… I have to correct my post! I’m sure shiso would be perfect here! Now that you tell me… I am really tempted to put pickled herring here! It sounds like a fantastic idea! Especially the one in oil.
      I have never been to the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, but I have heard it’s beautiful. I hope you will travel to other parts if you ever visit your friend in Lugano 🙂

  18. I love Gomo and her simple yet delicious recipes, which i try more than few and all of them were successful.
    i totally and 100% agree on gochujang. I am an addict and adding even in my chicken noodle soup or adding in my ramen with kimchi…oh it’s a killer combo!
    Your version of cold bibimbap is fantastic, i love it both ways cold and hot and yours is perfect for summer.

  19. I have all the dressing ingredients at home right now except the gochujang of course but I saw that it was available in the shops. Yeah a Korean dish that I can make at home! =D How on earth did I miss Gomo’s post, thanks for making it and sharing yours Sissi!

  20. I’m smiling here Sissi. Your latest posts are all Asian theme. I LOVE IT. 😀 Bibimbap is my must order at restaurant, and I really like your variation and how creative to turn it into cold salad! Totally out of the ordinary box and make me want to try this out!

    1. Thank you, Nami (though this is entirely Gomo’s recipe!). Yes, Asian cuisines are our staple… we sometimes don’t have a single pasta meal for a whole month, but buy rice in 5 kg bags just for two of us. I like Korean cuisine more and more because, as you know, I love fiery food.

Comments are closed.