I find a way to eat just about everything out of a bowl. Bowls signify easy, casual, comfort meals, which pretty much sounds like every meal I want this time of year. So naturally I’ve always been in love with the ultimate Korean comfort food, bibimbap, traditionally served in a hot stone bowl. Bibimbap is a kaleidoscope of mostly vegetables and rice served with a red chili paste called gochujang.

I’m always fascinated to learn about traditional methods of cooking even though I’m by no means traditional by way of ingredients or method. But I love traveling, tasting, and flipping through beautifully photographed cookbooks. Lately I’ve been glued to the new Lucky Rice cookbook by Danielle Chang, founder of the festival also named Lucky Rice! In the book, Danielle showcases ancient traditions but combines them with modern simplicity and fresh flavors. By no means a gluten free or vegan cookbook, it tells a story and serves as amazing inspiration for dishes I will bring to my table. I can’t wait to dig into diy sushi hand rolls, indonesian fried rice, green juice elixir cocktails, and thai mango puddings. YUM! But first up, bibimbap…

I’ve put my own spin on Danielle’s traditional methods by adapting the bibimbap to include a vegan protein and brown rice. I love how all the simple components in bibimbap combine to create the most satisfyingly sweet and salty, crunchy comfort bowl. Stir in a nice spoonful of gochujang, mix it all up and you’ll be so glad you’ve found this dish in your kitchen.

bibimbap from the lucky rice cookbook
bibimbap from the lucky rice cookbook
Serves 4

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup gochujang chili paste, I used this gluten-free one
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (this depends on whether your chili paste is already sweetened – I found I didn’t need to add any sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

For the tofu:

  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium gluten free tamari
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • 1 packaged extra firm tofu, drained, and cubed

For the rice:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 6 cups cooked brown rice

For the toppings:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach leaves, washed, large stems discarded
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup nori seaweed, cut into about 1-inch-wide strips (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium gluten free tamari
  • 1 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 4 pasture raised eggs
  • 1 medium Persian cucumber, unpeeled and julienned
  • 1 large carrot, shredded

Make the sauce: Mix the gochujang, sesame oil, coconut sugar (if using), vinegar, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of water together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Marinate the tofu: In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, tamari, sesame oil, and coconut sugar. Add the tofu and let the tofu marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.

Prepare the rice: Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the rice and pat it into an even later. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the rice cook, without stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, until it has a crispy golden crust on the bottom.

Prepare the toppings: While the rice is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat, and add the spinach. Sprinkle it lightly with sea salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 – 4 minutes, until softened and tender. Transfer the spinach to a bowl and set aside.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the same pan, and cook the shiitake mushrooms over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until they have softened and the edges are lightly browned. Add the tamari and cook until any visible liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are lightly glazed. Set them aside in a small bowl.

Add another 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan, add the bean sprouts, and sprinkle them lightly with sea salt. Cook for 1 minute, to just heat through and soften slightly. Set aside.

Heat a little more oil in the same pan, and fry the 4 eggs, sunny side up or over easy as desired. Divide the rice among 4 large bowls and set the fried eggs on top of the rice.

Add the tofu to the nonstick pan and cook each each side for a few minutes, until golden. Divide tofu among bowls, placing it next to the egg, and then arrange the spinach, cucumber, mushrooms, seaweed, sprouts, and shredded carrots, in seperate heaps, around the tofu and egg.

Serve with the gochujang sauce on the side, so you can can stir the ingredients together with as much sauce as desired.

Adapted from the bibimbap recipe in the Lucky Rice cookbook by Danielle Chang.