Bibimbap: Simple, Healthy & Vegetarian

I almost never watch TV. But somehow, I’ve managed to watch a few episodes of the Kimchi Chronicles and now suddenly I am all about Korean food.

At the food co-op, I saw a jar of kimchi and bought it immediately. I was so excited about it not even a $10 price tag could stop me. Then I got home and tasted it.

Nasty. Nasty as hell. Rotten cabbage.

It tastes so strange and so… rotten-ish… that I’m certain once you’ve acquired the taste for it nothing else will do the trick and you’ll LOVE it. I’m determined to acquire that taste, and until I do I’m going to force that nasty stuff on myself.

Next I tried bibimbap. Now THAT I can get with no problem. We were at the Kerrytown Market in Ann Arbor, saw it on the menu and recognized it from the Kimchi Chronicles. It was this dish and this moment that I fell in love with bibimap. Here’s a picture of my sister’s bowl (she got hers with egg on it):

Vegetarian Bibimbap from Kerrytown in Ann Arbor

Rice, tofu, sauteed vegetables, spring greens, cold cucumbers and spicy hot sauce. To make mine more animal-friendly, I got it without the egg. The combination of cooked and raw vegetables is interesting. I never would have thought to mix spring greens into a rice dish. And the cold cucumber pairs so well with the spicy hot sauce. A truly balanced meal has never tasted so good. Plus, there was an attractive Korean man sitting at the counter and that just made the whole experience about 10% more enjoyable.

As soon as we got back to Chicago, I immediately had to try my own version of the dish. I wasn’t sure what the hot sauce was, but felt like Sriracha was close enough. After googling it (just now), I discovered it’s actually gochujang. Don’t ask me to pronounce that.

Here’s my version of this simple, healthy vegetarian dish:

Bibimbap, my favorite simple vegetarian dish.

This version is entirely vegan. I borrowed a flax meal trick from Nourishing Flourishing to bread and fry the tofu and it turned out great (used the same trick for some Indian fried chicken later).

Later, I was at Mitsuwa, the Japanese market in Arlington Heights. There’s a little Korean place in their food court, so I decided to give my new favorite food another whirl. Sadly, this time it didn’t knock my socks off. It was…eh, okay:

Vegetarian bibimbap from Mitsuwa, Arlington Heights, Illinois

The mushrooms were gross.

Next, I’ve got to go to a reputable Korean restaurant to get it. Since I’ve already figured out how to make it the way I like it at home, I’ve at least got that. Once I make it to an authentic restaurant, I’ll report on it. Any kind, generous Korean men wanna treat? =)

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