The dish that is perhaps the most easily found option for vegans, vegetarians or people following a halal or kosher diet is….
Bibimbab 비빔밥 – literally “mixed rice”
“Bab” 밥 meaning rice is one of the staple foods of Korean cuisine, so many dishes contain rice and also carry the word “bab” in their name.
Beside 🍚rice, the dish consists of a number of varying toppings (mostly seasoned 🥕vegetables, 🍄mushrooms and 🍳egg) plus a sauce. There are innumerable versions of Bibimbab! I will soon introduce common versions with classical combinations of vegetables as well as post innovative creations from modern restaurants here.
Normally, the cheaper versions do not contain meat or fish produce at all. Otherwise, you can ask the waiter or cook to skip the respective topping when preparing your serving. You can do so by saying something like this:
🥩 “Gogi bbae juseyo.” “고기 빼 주세요” – Without meat please. 🍖
🐟 “Saengseon ina haemul bbae juseyo.” “생선이나 해물 빼 주세요” – Without fish or seafood please. 🦐
🥚 “Gyeran bbae juseyo.” 계란 빼 주세요” – Without the egg please. 🍳
Another key ingredient of Bibimbab is the sauce. The classical sauce is Korean fermented Chili sauce (gochujang 고추장), which in some cases has been upgraded with pieces of beef (this is mostly the case in more expensive restaurants). At other times, you have a selection of different sauces to choose from. Beside chili sauce, I’ve encountered versions of Bibimbab which have been served alongside seasoned soy sauce (양념 간장), a mustard sauce (겨자소스) or even a sauce made from sesame seeds.
How to eat:
In the large serving bowl, evenly mix the rice, toppings and sauce, which you add according to your personal taste. Ideally, chopsticks are used to stir everything, so that the rice grains are not mushed into a paste – but this takes more effort than simply using a spoon! 😆 The mixed rice is then eaten with a spoon.
Where to find:
Simple versions of Bibimbab can be found in even the smallest, most basic restaurants of Korea, the so-called bunsikjeom 분식점. There are restaurants, such as the brands Bon Bibimbab (본 비빔밥) or bibigo (비비고), which specialize in Bibimbab and thus offer a range of different versions. In general, there exists at least one Bibimbab option in any restaurant serving Korean food.