My vegan bipimbap topped with gojuchang sauce

Bipimbap is a dish I hadn’t experienced up until a few years ago, but it has since become a family favorite dinner and a staple in our house. While the name might not give much of a hint, bipimbap is essentially a dish composed of various veggies atop crispy rice. The best part is, you get to be creative when preparing your bowl! You can choose to cook some of your favorite vegetables or use whatever you’ve got sitting in the fridge. Traditionally, combinations of sauteed spinach, mushrooms, mung beans, matchstick carrots, sliced cucumbers, and zucchini are used. Each person can then have fun putting together their own bowl! In addition to the veggies, bipimbap is traditionally topped with a fried egg right in the center. To keep this vegan, the egg can be omitted, but for extra protein you can substitute some delicious crispy baked tofu. I also like to add a dollop of kimchi (fermented cabbage) to mix in. Jars of already-made kimchi are usually found in the refrigerated or produce sections of most grocery or health food stores. 

While there are a variety of methods of preparing the vegetables (the traditional way seems to be boiling and draining excess water), I prefer sauteing mine to bring out an additional element of flavor. If you’re interested, check out this blog which provides traditional step-by-step instructions with pictures.


  • 1 cup rice (traditionally white, but I use brown)
  • 6-12 ounce package of spinach (depending on how much you like to eat)
  • 8-12 ounce package of mushrooms, sliced (traditionally shiitake, but I use regular button mushrooms or baby portabellas as both are readily available)
  • Small package of mung beans
  • Matchstick carrots (most grocery stores carry these pre-packaged)
  • Thinly sliced cucumber (optional)
  • Zucchini slices or matchsticks from 1 medium zucchini
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Sesame oil
  • Minced garlic (mince 4-6 cloves or purchase pre-minced garlic in a jar in the produce section)
  • Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • Thinly sliced scallions for topping (optional)
  • Kimchi for topping (optional)
  • Tofu (see recipe for crispy baked tofu) (optional)
  • Fried egg for topping (optional)


  1. Prepare rice in rice cooker or small saucepan per instructions. If you like crisp rice (this is where the magic is), heat 1 tablespoon of oil (avocado, light olive, or sesame) in a large frying pan over medium heat and add rice. Let rice brown on the bottom and stir occasionally to keep rice from burning and ensure all sides get crisp.
  2. In a large frying pan, saute spinach over medium heat in 1 tsp of sesame oil (can saute without oil if you prefer but the sesame adds nice flavor). Add 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari, 2 tsp of minced garlic (or more to taste) and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat onto a plate. Top with 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
  3. In the same pan, saute sliced mushrooms (can use 1 tsp sesame oil or use no oil. I will often add a few tablespoons of water at a time to prevent from sticking). Add 2 tsp soy sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes until well-browned.
  4. Saute mung beans for 2-3 minutes in 1 tsp sesame oil until warm
  5. Matchstick carrots can be left raw or briefly sauteed
  6. Zucchini slices or matchsticks can be sauteed with 2 tsp garlic and 1-2 tsp soy sauce
  7. Cucumber can be thinly sliced or cut into matchsticks but does not need to be cooked
  8. Layer the bottom of a large bowl with crisp rice and top with vegetables, keeping each in its own section (see pictures). After all vegetables are layered, you can optionally top with a fried egg in the center or simply add crispy tofu. Top with Kimchi, sliced scallions, and gochujang sauce (see below)

Korean Spicy Bipimbap Sauce (by Monica)

I always enjoy topping my bipimbap bowl with sweet and spicy gojuchang sauce (not too much though as it does contain a fair amount of sugar!). Many supermarkets carry the squirt bottles of the sauce in the ethnic food aisle. If you’re feeling more adventurous, go to an Asian grocery store to pick to the paste and make your own sauce using this easy recipe I found on The Yummy Life blog.


4 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red hot pepper paste)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)


Whisk ingredients together until combined. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Leftovers may be frozen.

Use sauce as a condiment for Bibimbap and other Korean dishes. Serve in a small bowl or a condiment squeeze bottle.