Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl) with Asparagus

Bibimbap (literally “mixed rice”) is one of the most famous Korean dishes and – if you get rid of the “authenticity” complex – it can become one of the most versatile and quick home meals. I feel that the meat seasoning and the gochujang sauce are crucial to feel a Korean touch in this rice bowl, so I never change or omit those, but otherwise, I play with different vegetables, I season the meat with Chinese dark soy sauce and, to make matters worse, I often finish the cooking process in a microwave… Until now I’ve never dared posting any of my non-genuine versions, but this one is so fantastic, asparagus being prefectly suited for the sweet&spicy gochujang sauce, the seasoned meat and the egg, I couldn’t resist sharing this Europeanised bibimbap with you.

TIPS: I think seasoning is most important here and especially the gochujang (chilli paste) sauce. It’s sold on internet in many countries and cannot be substituted with anything else. Without gochujang you’ll still have a delicious dish but a different one.

Korean chilli flakes are usually medium-hot (or even less… it depends on your heat resistance) and they have a pleasant sweet flavour. It’s one more product worth looking for, especially if you want to start making kimchi.

Apparently the best bibimbap calls for hand-chopped beef. You can ask your butcher to do it or you can do it on your own. I find ground meat still good when reheated in a microwave. Since I usually freeze at least a portion of cooked and seasoned meat, I don’t even try to use chopped meat.

If you want to prepare rice in advance, it’s 100 x better if you keep it frozen rather than refrigerated (many Japanese home cooks do it and the difference is huge!); refrigerated rice becomes tough. The best way to reheat it is in a microwave (even if you want to use it rather cold, for example in a rice salad).

Koreans add a fried or a raw egg to bibimbap. I also love the poached version. The choice is yours.

You can make this dish particularly convenient and quick if you have the rice and the cooked meat ready and if you use your microwave. This is how I do it:

-First I defrost the rice (if it’s been frozen) in the microwave or cook it

-Then I precook my vegetables (asparagus and sprouts) in a microwave for about 30 seconds

-Then I defrost my cooked meat until slightly warm

-Finally I assemble the rice, the meat, the sprouts and the asparagus and put the bowl back to the microwave for about 1-2 minutes to finish the cooking process. In the meantime I poach or fry my egg, put it on top of the bowl, add the gochujang sauce and the meal is ready!

Preparation: about 30-40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

300 g ground or chopped meat (my favourite is 1/2 beef 1/2 pork)

10 whole stalks from green onions for the meat, chopped

10 stalks (green part only) for the topping, chopped (I sometimes replace the green onion topping with chives)

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce and 1 tablespoon Chinese dark soy sauce)

2 tablespoons sake (or a Korean equivalent)

1 crushed garlic clove

ground black pepper

8-10 asparagus spears, the toughest low parts discarded

two big handfuls of mungo bean sprouts

2 eggs

cooked rice (the amount depends on your habits, but about 250 ml/1 cup of cooked rice should be enough )

sesame oil

Gochujang sauce:

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang

1 heaped tablespoon Korean chilli flakes

1 teaspoon sake (or Korean equivalent)

1 tablespoon honey or syrup

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or 1 tablespoon normal soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed or grated

toasted sesame seeds

First season the meat with soy sauce, sake, garlic, black pepper and chopped green onions.

Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan and stir fry the meat until done.

While the meat is frying prepare the gochujang sauce, combining all the ingredients, and put it aside.

Cut up the asparagus into bite sized pieces.

Heat water for blanching and a pan with some sesame oil for stir-frying the sprouts (unless you use the microwave, see the TIPS above).

Assemble two bowls with rice and top it with the meat.

Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute or microwave it.

Stir-fry the sprouts with 1 teaspoon sesame oil until they start slightly softening, blanch them for 30 seconds or microwave them.

Put the vegetables on top of the rice.

(If the ingredients of your bowl are too cold, you can microwave them put together, apart from chives/green onion, gochujang sauce and the eggs).

Heat oil in a pan and fry the eggs, one by one or poach them.

Place on top of the bowl, add the green onion or chives, gochujang sauce and serve.

14 Replies to “Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl) with Asparagus”

  1. Thanks for the hint on freezing rice rather than refrigerating it. Did not know that. I love bibimbap and always order it when we go to a Korean restaurant. Have never tried it at home though, so I’m excited to see your recipe and great instructions. Gorgeous dish!

    1. You should definitely try freezing rice (several Japanese people told me most home cooks do it): you can put two leftover batches: on in the fridge and the other in the freezer. Reheat in a microwave and you will se the huuuge difference! Bibimbap is so easy if you have the ingredients prepared in advance (and if you put whatever you like on top of rice!). Thank you for the compliments!

  2. As you know, we have become smitten with Korean food of late. Sadly, the restaurant version is far too hot for my poor stomach so I’ve learned how to make an equally as delicious but more tolerable version at home! I have loved bulgogi and have been making it for a while now but bibimbap also sounds and looks absolutely delicious. I know my first recipe of bulgogi, I posted the sauce ingredients using my European equivalents but since I have purchased the real ingredients and although I am forced to use less so the dish isn’t as hot, my recipe is still quite delicious. I am excited to try your version of bibimbap! Your tips are excellent, I have never liked putting away rice (I admit to even throwing it away, which, as you can imagine, breaks my heart) but freezing sounds like a great alternative.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. Yes, I remember you like Korean cuisine a lot! My rice (imported from Japan) is so expensive, I try not to throw a single spoonful… Actually the Japanese freeze leftover rice all the time and then defrost in a microwave (actually all the home cooks I know usually cook some additional rice and freeze it to have rice ready very quickly; my Japanese rice cooker is very slow…. and I imagine most Japanese rice cookers are, so this is an excellent solution for quick emergency meals!). For me the defrosted rice is 100x better then the refrigerated and then reheated.

  3. I’ve heard of bibimbap many times, but never made it myself, your version sounds great. I’ve never thought about freezing rice, will think about it next time I make too much of it.

    1. Thank you, Adina. Bibimbap is such a nice versatile dish… (at least for me!). Freezing rice is the best way to keep its texture pleasant (although the freshly cooked is the best of course!).

  4. I have always said that once one clarifies the authenticity or not of a recipe is free to do whatever he/she wants. It is important to know the authentic and then all the lovely alterations each cook is able to make. I have seen hundreds of Greek salads and spanakopitas in the net. I love all of them but I always comment to those who do not mention that the recipe is a tweak of theirs. This is a beautiful dish Sissi, especially that egg eye that is smiling at me!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina! I’m glad you have exactly the same view I do: as long as one knows exactly what is modified (and mentions it!) and what the original should be like, everything is allowed. I always try to enumerate everything I’ve modified, especially when it comes to traditional recipes. (Actually, if I do something wrong with a foreign dish I thought genuine, I’m always happy – not angry, like some people – to be corrected by a person who grew up with this cuisine or who simply knows better).

  5. This was such an interesting post Sissi, with all your helpful tips (never thought frozen rice would be better than refrigerated. The next time I make Gochujang sauce, I’m going to try your version.

    1. Thank you, Karen. I’m glad you found it interesting. Try comparing one day frozen and refrigerated rice. You’ll see how surprising the difference is!

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