Loaded with nutrient-packed ingredients and bursting with spice and flavor, healthy Vegetarian Bibimbap with crispy tofu is the Korean dish that’s been missing in your life.
Anyone who feels healthy food can’t look beautiful clearly has never set eyes on a delicious Korean vegetarian bibimbap bowl (or Cabbage Stir Fry).
Steamy, fluffy rice studded with tender-crisp veggies, fragrant sesame oil, and spicy Korean chili goodness, bibimbap is a layered masterpiece of color, flavor, and aroma.
If you’re not familiar with bibimbap (which translates to “mixed rice”), it is a traditional Korean dish of hot rice served with an array of mixed veggies, chili pepper paste, and (sometimes) a fried egg.
While thinly shaved beef is a common accompaniment, today’s recipe is my version of a vegetarian bibimbap bowl. (Don’t worry, I have a Teriyaki Salmon Bowl recipe for the meat-eaters at your dinner table too.)
My healthy bibimbap recipe takes all the great colors and flavors of traditional Korean bibimbap and transforms them into a vegetarian delight.
- Swaps tender beef for super-flavored chunks of crunchy on the outside, meaty on the inside Crispy Tofu.
- Opts for protein and fiber-rich quinoa instead of traditional steamed rice.
- Loads up on superfood veggies such as sassy shiitake mushrooms, vitamin A-packed carrots, green-power kale, and enigmatic bean sprouts.
Traditional Korean dishes such as bibimbap (or this Korean Beef Bowl) are so inspiring. They’re a wonderful way to step outside your comfort zone and learn how to prepare a dish that marries unfamiliar flavors and traditions from across the globe with familiar ingredients from your own kitchen.
How to Make Vegetarian Bibimbap
Short on calories but not on flavor, this healthy vegetarian bibimbap bowl recipe is a wholesome collage of color, texture, and flavor.
- Tofu. Crispy, yet tender tofu is the BEST way to enjoy vegetarian bibimbap. This Air Fryer Tofu would also work well in this recipe.
- Kale. Packed with calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and more, kale boosts this bibimbap into a power bowl of nutrition. (It’s also one of my favorite additions to Healthy Fried Rice.)
- Carrots. Vibrant crisp-tender carrots offer added crunch and a daily dose of vitamin A.
- Bean Sprouts. Earthy, crisp, with a mild grass-like flavor I love the texture and flavor bean sprouts lend a bibimbap bowl.
- Shiitake Mushrooms. These mild-tasting mushrooms hail from East Asia. They’re common in stir fries and ramen dishes (and delish in Mushroom Tacos) and are a fantastic addition to vegetarian bibimbap.
- Garlic + Green Onions. For a little zip and additional aromatic flavor.
- Quinoa. My healthy swap for rice that adds fiber and additional plant-based protein into this healthy Korean rice bowl (as well as this Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl with Quinoa and Avocado).
- Egg. A fried sunny-side-up egg may be optional for some but for me, it’s an obligatory topping that cannot be skipped.
- Honey. Contrasts the spicy chili paste and adds just the right amount of sweetness.
- Gochujang. A spicy fermented chili paste found in countless Korean recipes. Feel free to adjust the amount in the recipe to suit your tolerance for spice. From a tbsp gochujang to 3 tbsps!
- Sesame Oil. The amount of tantalizing aroma just a few drops of this fragrant oil will never cease to amaze me. You’ll love it too!
- Soy Sauce. Counters the sweet honey and spicy gochujang with awesome umami flavor that gets absorbed by the tofu and veggies.
- Sesame Seeds. For a final flourish of edible “glitter” to bespeckle the top of these sensational bibimbap veggie bowls
For an added layer of awesome Korean flavor, add a spoonful (or two) of your favorite kimchi. I love the acidity (and added heat) a scoop of kimchi gives this dish to balance out the other flavors.
- Prepare the Crispy Tofu as directed. Then toss in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, sesame oil. Set aside.
- Blanche the kale. Remove, squeeze dry and season with soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced garlic. Set aside.
- Blanche the bean sprouts and toss with soy sauce. Set aside.
- In a skillet, saute the green onions (or scallions), garlic, and mushrooms until tender. Toss soy sauce and remove from heat.
- Saute the carrots until slightly tender. Transfer to a bowl beside the other toppings. Fry the eggs.
- Stir together the gochujang with the remaining honey to make a gochujang sauce.
- Assemble the bibimbap mounding the assorted toppings over a scoop of cooked quinoa. ENJOY!
- To Store. Leftover bibimbap veggies and tofu may be stored for up to two days in the fridge. Top with a fresh fried egg right before serving.
- To Reheat. Warm veggies and tofu in a wok over medium heat until heated through. Serve with a freshly fried egg, if desired. Alternatively, you may warm in the microwave. Note that the veggies and tofu will lose some of their crunch when reheated.
Part of what makes bibimbap so fun, is that it’s a truly customizable dish. Prep all the various toppings ahead and make a bibimbap bar for your friends and family to build their own custom bibimbap bowl loaded with their favorite ingredients.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Large Pot. A deep stockpot is perfect for blanching the kale and beansprouts until tender.
- Skillet. This quality Le Creuset cast iron skillet is worth the investment if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
- Serving Bowls. This set is perfect for lining up your toppings so you can assemble your bibimbap bowls with ease.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…or the bibimbap!
Frequently Asked Questions
This is not a vegan bibimbap recipe. However, it could be modified to be vegan by omitting the egg and swapping the honey for a vegan sweetener like maple syrup or agave.
Authentic gochujang is a staple in Korean cooking and is made from Korean red chile pepper flakes, sticky rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.
This recipe is almost gluten free. To modify, swap the soy sauce for tamari. I would also recommend checking the labels of your tofu and gochujang since they can sometimes contain wheat-based additives or be processed in facilities that manufacture gluten-containing foods.
Although we don’t use some of these ingredients in this dish, typically you will find bibimbap sauce made up of garlic, sesame oil, honey, sugar, rice vinegar, salt, and gochujang.
- 1 recipe Crispy Tofu
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce divided (use gluten free if desired)
- 2 tablespoons honey divided
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil divided
- 6 cups kale chopped; or other greens of your choice
- 1 cup bean sprouts heaping
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves, divided)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil divided
- 4 green onions thinly sliced (white and green parts divided)
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced thin
- 3 carrots cut into matchsticks
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 2/3 cup dry)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons gochujang* Korean chili pepper paste
- Prepare the Crispy Tofu as directed in the recipe. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Toss with cooked tofu and set aside.
- Set out 4 bowls for the cooked vegetables. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chopped kale and cook for 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from the water, squeeze dry, and place in one of the prepared bowls. Toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Set aside.
- Refill pot with fresh water and return to boil. Add bean sprouts and cook until tender and slightly translucent, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a bowl, toss with 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce. Set aside.
- Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add white parts of the green onions, 1 teaspoon garlic, and mushrooms. Sautee for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Toss with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and remove to one of the prepared bowls.
- In the same skillet, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Add carrots, the remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and the remaining teaspoon minced garlic. Sauté 2-3 minutes, until slightly tender. Remove to final bowl.
- Just before serving, heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Fry the eggs sunny side up.
- In a small bowl, stir together the chili pepper paste and the remaining tablespoon of honey.
- To serve: Place cooked quinoa in the bottom of the bowl. Then top with small mounds of tofu, kale, mushrooms, carrots, and bean sprouts. Top with toasted sesame seeds, a fried egg, and the green tops of the green onions. Serve with the chili bean paste.
- *Gochujang is available in many grocery stores and at Asian specialty food stores. It will give you the most authentic and appropriate spice, but If you substitute sriracha in a pinch, I won’t tell.
- TO STORE: This dish is best enjoyed the day it is made. However, leftover bibimbap veggies and tofu may be stored for up to two days in the fridge.
- TO REHEAT: Warm veggies and tofu in a wok over medium heat until heated through. Serve with a freshly fried egg, if desired. Alternatively, you may warm in the microwave. Note that the veggies and tofu will lose some of their crunch when reheated.
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