Bibimbap (비빔밥)- Korean rice with medley of wild greens

Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Bibimbap (비빔밥) – Korean rice mixed with vegetables

“Bibimbap”… If you have ever taken a Korean flight or been to a Korean restaurant then you have probably tasted (or at least  have seen) this dish before. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this dish. I love some versions of bibimbap but actually not all. For that reason, I usually don’t order bibimbap at restaurants unless they specialize in it. If special attention is not given to each individual topping in terms of freshness, quality and seasoning, the final medley of the wild greens can easily taste just so-so. And if you are like me, one simply cannot waste a precious meal on something that tastes just so-so! For me, every meal is an opportunity for something amazing, something exciting and something that will just lift up my spirits.

As a kid, bibimbap was not in my top favorite list because I was just not a big vegetable lover. The other reason was because I often had trouble eating some of the long wild greens such as the fiddleheads (which is quite fibrous and chewy). So it was only in my adult life, I rediscovered bibimbap and started to enjoy it.

But making a proper, traditional bibimbap is quite a bit of work and time.  Fortunately, there are some simplified, quick versions that taste just as good and I will be writing about that soon.

Bibimbap is also a very popular pot luck food for many Koreans in the US. It’s because if each guest can make and bring 1 to 2 toppings, you can make a beautiful bibimbap together quite easily. It also does not have to be served hot which makes serving very easy and is perfect food for buffets. Guests can pick and choose what they want in their bibimbap so it can easily be both a vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. And it’s also gluten-free!

There is really no fixed set of ingredients for bibimbap as “bibim” means “to mix or rub” and “bap” means rice. The toppings usually represent the unique produce of each province in Korea and so the bibimbap will be different based on the area you are in. The typical bibimbap you get in Seoul usually includes 3-4 different edible wild greens (나물 Namul), some common vegetables such as carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, radish and then some meat (beef, chicken) or seafood (squid, shrimp).


Prep Time:   6 hrs           Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 min       Servings: 2             Difficulty: Medium

Bibimap Namul - spinach, carrots, soybean sprouts, radish, bracken fern, bellflower roots

Bibimap Namul – spinach, carrots, soybean sprouts, radish, bracken fern, bellflower roots


Above is a picture of the 6 different kinds of vegetable toppings(namul) for bibimbap- listed below from left to right:

  1. Sauteed bell flower roots (도라지나물 Doraji Namul)
  2. Blanched Spinach (시금치나물  Shikeumchi Namul)
  3. Sauteed bracken fiddleheads (고사리 나물 Gosari/Kosari Namul)
  4. Radish Salad (무생채 Moosaengche)
  5. Sauteed carrots (홍당무 Hongdaangmoo)
  6. Cooked Soybean Sprouts (콩나물 kongnamul)

In addition, I cooked some seasoned ground beef and a pan fried-egg for the final topping.


  • 2 C short grain rice
  • For the Seasoned Ground Beef
    • 1/3 lb ground beef
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 2 tsp rice cooking wine
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
    • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • For the Bellflower Roots (Doraji Namul)
    • 4 oz (about 2 1/2 C) reconstituted bellflower roots (도라지 doraji)
    • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/4 tsp chopped green onions
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • For the Blanched Spinach
    • 1 bunch spinach, washed
    • 6 C water
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • For the Bracken Fiddleheads (Gosari Namul)
    • 4 oz or 2 C reconstituted bracken fiddleheads
    • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 3/4 tsp gook kanjang
    • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/4 tsp chopped green onions
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • For the Radish Salad (Moosaengche 무생채)
    • 3 C julienned Korean radish (무 moo)
    • 2 tsp sea salt
    • 3 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 3 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
    • 2 1/2 tsp T Korean red pepper powder(고추가루 gochugaroo)
  • For the Sauteed Carrots
    • 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots julienned (about 1 C)
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 T vegetable oil
  • For the Soybean Sprouts
    • 3 C soybean sprouts
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1/3 C water
  • For the egg
    • 1 egg, pan fried, over easy/medium/scrambled
  • For the condiments
    • 2 tsp or more gochujang (adjust to taste)
    • 1-2 tsp sesame oil

Seasoned Ground Beef

– Prepare the ground beef by mixing in all the seasonings and then sauteing the beef on medium heat until fully cooked. Set aside.

Sauteed Bellflower Roots (Doraji)

stir fried bell flower roots (도라지 나물 doraji namul)

stir fried bell flower roots (도라지 나물 doraji namul)











1. Doraji is usually sold dried. If your store sells the reconstituted ones buy it! If not, soak the dried roots in water overnight and drain. Rub the roots with sea salt to extract some of the bitterness.

2. Split and cut doraji roots into approx 2 in long and 1/8 in thick pieces. Here’s how you can split a whole root (left) and then split each into even thinner pieces (right) – by inserting a small knife upside down (with the blade side up) and then pushing it upwards. Be careful though – make sure you point the knife AWAY from you or anyone you like.. :) Wash and rinse the cut doraji roots and drain.

how to split bellflower roots

insert knife w/ blade side up and split bellflower roots by pulling up

splitting bellflower root(doraji)

split bellflower root(doraji)

























3. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Saute doraji and chopped garlic. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes until the doraji pieces are tender yet still a bit crunchy. Turn off the heat, sprinkle green onions and sesame oil. Set aside.

You can eat doraji raw so don’t worry about not cooking it enough. It’s all about having the right texture (should be slightly chewy and crunchy) and the right amount of seasoning. Adjust salt to taste – keep it on the lighter side because additional seasoning will be added to the final dish.

NOTE – when you taste doraji while it’s hot/warm, it will taste quite bitter. Don’t worry..the bitter taste will mostly go away once it cools. But remember that it is supposed to taste still slightly bitter as it belongs to the ginseng family.

Blanched Spinach (시금치 나물 Shikeumchi Namul)

  1. Boil a pot of salted water (6 C or so + 1 tsp salt) and quickly blanch the spinach. Do not cook the spinach more than 1 minute. Spinach should be still a bit chewy and not mushy. Shock the cooked spinach in cold or ice water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Drain the water and squeeze out any excess water from the spinach by squeezing them gently in your hand.
  3. Season the blanched spinach with some salt (1 tsp) and sesame oil (1 tsp). Set aside.

Sauteed Bracken Fiddleheads (고사리 나물 Gosari/Kosari Namul)

Reconstituted Bracken Fiddleheads (Gosari)

Reconstituted Bracken Fiddleheads (Gosari)











If using dried Gosari –

  1. Boil it for 20 – 30 minutes until they are soft then drain. Soak in cold water for 6-8 hours to draw out any bitterness.
  2. Trim the reconstituted Gosari by going through each piece and cutting off any hard stems.
  3. Cut them into bite size pieces (2 in long)
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Saute Gosari and chopped garlic. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt and gook kanjang.  Saute for 5 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat, sprinkle green onions and sesame oil. Set aside.

Radish Salad (무생채 나물 Moo Saeng Che Namul)

See my previous post for Korean Radish Salad for detailed instructions. You only need a little bit for bibimbap so I reduced the ingredients by half for this recipe.

Sauteed Carrots (홍당무 Hongdangmoo)

Add 1 T oil in frying pan on medium heat. Add julienned carrots and a pinch of salt. Saute carrots until they are soft and tender.

Cooked Soybean Sprouts (콩나물 Kongnamul)

soybean sprouts (kongnamul)  in pot

cooked soybean sprouts (kongnamul) in pot


  1. Wash and clean the soybean sprouts. Optionally break off the root ends if they are brown.
  2. In a small pot, add water, soybean sprouts, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 8 minutes or so until most of the water has evaporated. Remember the sprouts may taste fishy if you open the lid during cooking. It’s good if you can use a clear glass lidded pot so you can see it without opening the lid.
  3. Turn off heat and sprinkle the sesame oil. Set aside.

Pan Fried Egg

Usually the egg is fried over easy so the egg yolk is still runny. If you don’t like it that way, you can certainly cook the egg all the way or even scramble it. Fully cooking the egg will not give you the rich yolk taste but it can also make the bibimbap taste lighter and drier which some people may prefer.

Now, let assemble the bibimbap –

  1. Put rice at the bottom of a bowl

    Rice in bowl

    Rice in bowl

  2. Top the rice with all the vegetables and the ground beef in the middle. Don’t you just love the colors?

    Bibimbap - Korean Mixed Rice with Vegetables

    Bibimbap – Korean Mixed Rice with Vegetables

  3. Add the fried egg on the very top and serve with gochujang and sesame oil so each person can season to their taste. Mix it all up and there you go!
    Bibimbap served with Gochujang and Sesame oil

    Bibimbap served with Gochujang and Sesame oil

    How to eat – 

    One final note on how to eat bibimbap. Many Koreans add a lot of gochujang and make it really red and spicy. I personally don’t like it that way because you can’t really fully taste all the different ingredients. So start by adding a little bit of gochujang (1 tsp) and then increase gradually.

    What to serve –

    Serve with some clear soup like bugeo gook or miyeok gook. Also some fresh side dish of Kimchi is a must.

    Variations –

    Any of the toppings above can be substituted and you can have more or less toppings. It all works.

    • meat/fish toppings other than ground beef – beef bulgogi/kalbi/chicken bulgogi/pork bulgogi/squid/shrimp
    • wild greens (namul)- any other wild greens such as aster scaber (취나물 chinamul), shitake mushrooms, perilla leaves,
    • common vegetables (sauteed) – sauteed zucchini, bean sprouts (instead of soybean sprouts), stir-fried cucumbers, sauteed onions, sauteed burdock,
    • fresh greens – fresh lettuces (romaine/green leaf/iceberg), fresh perilla leaves, fresh crown daisies

    You can also sprinkle some roasted sea laver pieces as a final garnish.


Total Ingredients for Bibimbap (this includes everything)

  • 2 servings of cooked rice (1 C uncooked rice)
  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 4 oz bellflower roots
  • 4 oz bracken fiddleheads
  • 3 C soybean sprouts
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 large radish (approx 3 C julienned)
  • 1 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cooking rice wine
  • 3 tsp sesame oil + 2 tsp for finishing
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 T + 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped green onions
  • 3/4 tsp gook kanjang
  • 2 1/2 tsp gochookaroo (Korean red chili powder)
  • 1 T gochujang



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