Vegan dolsot bibimbap has been one of my favourite comfort foods: sizzling crispy rice with a rainbow of vegetables and bulgogi seasoned vegan ground meat.

Rice with vegetable side dishes arranged on top in a ceramic bowl with bibimbap sauce in the middle

What is Dolsot Bibimbap?

In Korean, Dolsot Bibimbap translates to “stone bowl mixed rice”, which is a special version of the bibimbap “mixed rice” dish. Bibimbap is one of those super simple dishes to whip up because it is a great way to use leftover banchan (Korean side dishes).

Dolsot bibimbap differs from regular bibimbap in that it uses a heated ceramic, cast iron, or stone bowl to crisp the rice from the bottom and keep the contents of the bowl sizzling hot! It is one of my favourite things to eat when I’m feeling under the weather. It’s also perfect for just a bowl of comforting, delicious rice. Having the sizzling effect from the dolsot is fantastic, but this is just a delicious lunch to eat in a regular bowl too.

My First Bibimbap Experience:

The first time I ever had dolsot bibimbap was in Brazil–Actually, that was the trip that ended up making me go fully vegan. I was vegetarian at the time, and all of my food options had SO much cheese that it destroyed me. But my local friends had taken me to this underground restaurant in Chinatown that served dolsot bibimbap. The restaurant didn’t have any windows or a sign on the door. My friend rang the doorbell, and the door mysteriously opened for us.

We walked into this dimly lit restaurant where the only person there was the woman behind the bar. My friend whispered to us that this was a front for the mafia, but I don’t know if she was just pulling my leg or not. The bartender took our order and I got a vegetarian dolsot bibimbap (it was pretty much this bowl but with egg instead of the bulgogi vegan crumble), and it came out sizzling and magical and so delicious.

Maybe it was just the mysteriousness of the restaurant, but I’ve never experienced dining quite like that ever again! But making vegan dolsot bibimbap at home has brought back to my first memories of this dish.

Overhead shot of dolsot bibimbap (rice with vegetable side dishes arranged on top)

Why would bibimbap not be vegan?

It’s actually fairly simple to make vegan bibimbap: most of the side dishes (banchan) used for bibimbap can be easily made vegan. However, at most Korean restaurants, their banchan typically include fish sauce, shrimp paste, or anchovies, so be diligent about checking. You may come across some Korean restaurants that have vegan-friendly banchan though, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!

From what I can tell, veganism in Korea/Korean culture has become more and more popularized! I’ve seen more and more Korean food products explicitly sport a “vegan” or a “vegan certified” label. It’s kind of incredible.

My first experience of vegan dolsot bibimbap was at Stone Bowl Bibimbap on Eglinton in Toronto. I took the 15 min bus ride from my apartment, and discovered the first Korean place I had ever seen with clear vegan menu items!

Their kimchi, miso soup, and mayo were vegan by default and made all in house. I was able to try japchae, tteokbokki, kimchi fries and of course, vegan dolsot bibimbap! When I lived in Toronto, it was my go-to-restaurant for comfort food.

mixed rice on a spoon resting above the bowl of dolsot bibimbap

How to make vegan dolsot bibimbap

The recipe may look GIANT and quite daunting, and you’re not wrong. If you’re making bibimbap for just one meal, it may not seem like it’s worth the effort. Traditionally, bibimbap is a delicious way to use up banchan (side dishes) from earlier in the week.

If you don’t typically make banchan, bibimbap might not be an easy way for you to use leftovers. Prepping all the banchan at the beginning of the week takes about an hour to prep, but then you will have the makings of vegan dolsot bibimbap for several days! It’s my favourite way to meal prep! For the next few days, I have a bowl full of sizzling rice and a ton of veggies within 10 minutes.

I usually use short grain rice for bibimbap because it’s stickier, but sometimes I like to mix it up and use purple rice! I shared a recipe recently for how to make it, so make sure to try that out.

In this recipe, I say you can use spinach or snow pea shoots, but spinach is more traditional. I really love snow pea shoots though, so I’ll splurge on a big bag of them sometimes. This week just so happened to be a week I had them, so I made my sigeumchi namul with snow pea shoots instead of spinach.

Recipe Inspiration

Over the past year, I’ve made different versions of the side dishes to add to my dolsot bibimbap, and I’ve learned from these amazing Korean creators! I tweaked my recipe and method with my own preference of seasonings, but all credit goes to these legends who I learned from:

Yield: 4-6 servings

Vegan Dolsot Bibimbap

Vegan Dolsot Bibimbap

Bibimbap or Dolsot bibimbap is one of my favourite comfort foods to meal prep: all the side dishes take about an hour to prepare at the beginning of the week, but then you can have Dolsot Bibimbap for dinner for a week in about 10 minutes!

It’s a great way to use up leftover Korean side dishes (banchan), and you can pack everything together for lunch (dosirak style) to have as an easy, portable room temperature lunch.

Prep Time
15 minutes

Cook Time
45 minutes

Total Time
1 hour

Ingredients

Beuseus namul (Seasoned Mushroom)

  • 10 flower/shiitake mushrooms (flower mushrooms are often labelled as shiitake, but they’re cheaper than actual shiitake mushrooms), de-stemmed and sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce*
  • 2 tbsp oliosaccharide (brown sugar or a liquid sweetener of your choice works here)
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar

Kongnamul Muchim (Seasoned soybean sprouts)

  • ~5-6 cups soybean sprouts (mine came in a prepackaged bag)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (for the water) + 1 tsp kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced/pressed

Sigeumchi namul (Seasoned spinach/Greens)

  • 4 cups spinach (sometimes I use snow pea shoots too)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Hobak bokkeum (Seasoned zucchini)

  • 2 zucchini (I used grey zucchini, but any will work), julienned or thinly sliced half-moons
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced/crushed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Danggeun Namul (Seasoned carrot)

  • 2 medium/large carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Bulgogi crumbles (you could also use seitan strips)

  • 12 oz (340 g) vegan ground meat of your choice, I used Beyond here
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce*
  • 2 tbsp oliosaccharide (can sub brown sugar, or liquid sweetener of your choice)
  • 3 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Bibimbap Sauce

  • 4 tbsp gochujang**
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp oliosaccharide (can substitute brown sugar + 1 tbsp water, mirin, or liquid sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For each bowl of bibimbap

  • 3/4 – 1 cup cooked short grain rice (you’ll need 4 cups total, but I will cook fresh per day)
  • 2-3 tbsp of each side dish (mushroom, soybean sprout, spinach, zucchini & carrot)
  • 1/4 cup bulgogi crumble (if you don’t want this, you could also just use some fried tofu)
  • 1-2 perilla leaves, halved and then ribboned
  • 1-2 tbsp bibimbap sauce (to taste)

Instructions

Beuseus namul (seasoned mushrooms)

  1. In a bowl, mix the sliced mushrooms with soy sauce, oliosaccharide (or liquid sweetener), toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar. Let marinate while you prepare the other side dishes.
  2. Once marinated, stir fry over medium heat until mushrooms are tender and the sauce has been absorbed into the mushrooms. This should take about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Kongnamul Muchim (seasoned soybean sprouts)

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil (should be enough water to fully submerge the soybean sprouts). Season the water with 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Rinse and drain your soybean sprouts well, then add them to the pot of boiling salted water. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure everything is blanched evenly.
  2. Remove the soybean sprouts from the water and let drain in a colander over the sink. (I don’t pour out the water so I can blanch the spinach in the same pot).
  3. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt, toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and pressed garlic. Set aside.

Sigeumchi namul (Seasoned spinach/Greens)

  1. Blanch the spinach (or snow pea shoots) in boiling water until tender and bright green, this should take 1-2 minutes.
  2. Pour out and rinse with cold water to shock the greens and keep them from continuing to cook. Drain and squeeze out any excess water.
  3. Roughly chop the greens into 1-2 inch length pieces, so it’s easier to eat in the bibimbap.
  4. Season with toasted sesame seed oil, toasted sesame seeds, and kosher salt. Set aside.

Hobak bokkeum (Seasoned zucchini)

  1. Toss zucchini with kosher salt and garlic, then stir fry in an oiled skillet until softened, about 4-7 minutes: 4-5 minutes if you’ve julienned the zucchini, 6-7 minutes if you’ve cut them into half moons. They should be tender and slightly translucent.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside.

Danggeun Namul (Seasoned carrot)

  1. Toss julienned carrots with kosher salt, then stir fry in an oiled skillet until tender. This should take 4-5 minutes. Cook to the tenderness you like, I like them to still have a bit of a resistance in the bite but not so firm that it’s crunchy.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bulgogi crumbles (you could also use seitan strips)

  1. In a large bowl, combine vegan ground meat, soy sauce, oliosaccharide, green onions, rice vinegar, minced garlic, grated ginger and black pepper until evenly crumbled and seasoned.
  2. In a skillet, cook the ground until browned, about 6 minutes, breaking up the mixture with your spoon so you don’t have any large chunks of ground.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bibimbap Sauce

  1. Combine gochujang, toasted sesame oil, oliosaccharide/sweetener, rice vinegar, garlic, and toasted sesame seeds, and mix until well combined. Feel free to add 1-2 tsp water if you prefer a thinner consistency.

To assemble a bowl of Dolsot Bibimbap (stone bowl bibimbap)

  1. In a ceramic bowl or stone bowl that is stove-top safe, add your cooked short grain rice. I like to use a spoon that is oiled with toasted sesame seed oil and gently press the rice to be an even layer along the bottom and slightly up the sides of the bowl. This way you get more crispy rice.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of the bulgogi crumble, then 2-3 tbsp of each side dish around the bowl. Over medium heat, heat the ceramic bowl over the stove for about 4-5 minutes until your rice is crisped to your liking (you’ll hear the crackle, and you can check the sides to see how crisp or scorched you want your rice to be). If you’re using side dishes/toppings that were chilled in the fridge, cover the bowl with a lid to heat through while you crisp your rice.
  3. Once heated through (I just poke with my finger to see haha), remove the bowl from heat and add ribboned perilla leaves and bibimbap sauce to your liking! Make sure you place your dolsot/ceramic bowl on a heat-proof trivet to protect your counters.
  4. Enjoy your bibimbap with a side of kimchi!

Notes

*If you’d like to make this gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce and a gluten-free gochujang. Some gochujang may include malt (barley derived).

**If you don’t like spicy food, you can cut the spice level by using 2 tbsp gochujang and 2 tbsp doenjang, or you can use a mild gochujang! I don’t find this sauce spicy at all though, so use your own judgement haha.



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