Image by Vicky Ng



The origin of Bibimbap

The palate-pleasing dish that is Bibimbap has been delighting diners all over the world for centuries. But what is the origin behind this delectable fare?

It is generally accepted that this warm and welcoming dish was first enjoyed in Korea, with some sources suggesting it dates back as far as the late 18th century. Initially, the dish was primarily found in royal court kitchens and the homes of wealthy citizens. Consisting of a bowl of steaming hot white rice, bibimbap was served alongside an assortment of vegetables, including spinach, cucumber, chili, mushrooms, and red pepper - all of which were lightly stir-fried in oil and sesame salt.

It wasn’t just vegetable accompaniments though, Bibimbap also featured a variety of animal proteins (often beef) and other tantalizing ingredients such as soy sauce, doenjang (fermented soybean paste), and gochujang (hot pepper paste). It is from these various condiments and ingredients that the flavors and textures of the dish truly emerged.

Due to its unique combination of nutrition, flavor, and convenience, bibimbap quickly began to spread throughout the country, becoming a favorite of the Korean people. Over time, it evolved into a much-beloved national dish. As with many cultural icons, however, bibimbap has also taken on a life of its own, inspiring chefs to experiment with new varieties, mixing and matching ingredients, and experimenting with different preparation techniques.

Today, bibimbap has transcended its Korean roots and is now enjoyed by people all over the world. Whether you’re dining in a traditional Korean restaurant or have conjured up your own version at home, one thing is certain: this delightful dish is here to stay.

FAQs about Bibimbap

Is bibimbap a healthy meal?

Yes, bibimbap can be part of a healthy meal. It is made up of a variety of vegetables and grains, such as onions, carrots, mushrooms, and spinach, as well as protein sources like beef, tofu, or eggs. Depending on how it is prepared, some bibimbap dishes contain a lot of oil, so it important to read the ingredients list before eating it.

Is bibimbap Korean or Vietnamese?

Bibimbap is a Korean dish.

What is special about bibimbap?

Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish that combines steamed white rice with a variety of vegetables and meats, topped with an array of sauces and seasonings. It is often served in a hot stone bowl called a dolsot and can be enjoyed either cold or warm. The name "bibimbap" literally translates to mean "mixed rice," and it is a popular dish for both its unique flavor and nutritional benefits. Bibimbap is a great way to get an array of vitamins and minerals, as it typically includes ingredients such as carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, dried seaweed, mushrooms, and beef.

What is the difference between bulgogi and bibimbap?

Bulgogi is a Korean dish consisting of marinated and grilled slices of beef, pork, or chicken. It is served with rice and various side dishes. Bibimbap is a Korean dish consisting of white rice topped with various sautéed and seasoned vegetables, beef, an egg, and gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste). It is served with a variety of accompaniments such as kimchi, pickled radish, seaweed, and toasted sesame seeds.

Types of Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a beloved dish across the world and its many variations are the stuff of gastronomic legend. The Korean classic is comprised of a bed of rice topped with an array of condiments, proteins, and vegetables which can be stir-fried or raw. Its diverse make-up allows it to delight the palate through a wealth of flavours, textures, and colour. With so much potential to be unleashed, it’s no wonder that there are several established types of bibimbap to be explored.

The first, and perhaps most popular, variety is dolsot bibimbap. This dish is served in a superheated stone bowl that is often pre-seasoned with sesame oil. Rice, various vegetables, and egg are added to the sizzling vessel before being topped with a protein of your choice (beef is traditional). A few minutes of cooking later, the crispy rice on the bottom of the bowl has been browned and the ingredients have been cooked to perfection. It’s a delightfully rustic dish that has earned its place as South Korea’s national food.

A second variation is yachae bibimbap. Here, the focus is on the vegetables rather than the protein, meaning that there are more health benefits to be gained. Plenty of fresh, crunchy vegetables—such as lettuce, carrot, bean sprouts, zucchini, and mushrooms—are added to the bibimbap in place of the meat. The rice is also left unseasoned, allowing the natural flavours of the vegetables to take centre stage. This vegetarian version is definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a light meal that still packs a punch.

Finally, there’s jeonju bibimbap. This is a heavier, more indulgent version of the dish, featuring beef, beef broth, assorted pickles, and an egg on top. It’s often served with a spicy red pepper paste to add a bit of kick, and the beef is usually marinated in a sweet soy sauce. Rich and flavourful, jeonju bibimbap is the go-to comfort food for many Koreans.

No matter what type of bibimbap you choose, it’s sure to tantalise your taste buds. Bring a little bit of South Korea into your home and be prepared to be impressed by this versatile and delicious dish.