Bibimbap: What Is It, Taste, and How To Eat?

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Korean food is known for being healthy and versatile. If you’re looking for new foods to try that are bendable to your diet and preferences, then you should dive into Korean cuisine, and you should start with bibimbap (sometimes romanized as bibimbop). 

But what is bibimbap?

Bibimbap originates from South Korea and is a meal containing mixed rice and toppings such as kimchi, soy sauce, namul, doenjang, and or gochujang. 

It’s very famous outside of South Korea. It’s a common dish all throughout East Asia, and now, it’s extending to the United States as well.

The rest of this article will cover what bibimbap is in detail, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Bibimbap Is

Bibimbap (비빔밥) is a dish consisting mostly of rice, mixed vegetables, and meat. You can remove the animal products to make it a vegan dish. 

For example, removing the meat and the egg garnish Koreans like to put on top of it.

It’s one of the most well known Korean dishes, and it’s often eaten in the States as well as in Asia. ‘Bibim’ means mixing rice, and ‘bap’ means rice, making it literally mixed rice. 

Bibimbap is typically made using rice, an assortment of seasonal vegetables, meat, and a fried egg.

You’ll also see plenty of sauce used in the dish. For example, soy sauce is a popular choice since it compliments the ingredients well. 

You can also make a homemade sauce, or add a bunch of seasonings to enhance the flavor.

If you look back in time, one of the earliest records of bibimbap comes from the late 1800s. 

However, it’s also possible that during the Joseon Dynasty from the late 1500s to mid 1600s, bibimbap was created. There’s a chance the meal came from ritual practices.

Bibimbap spread more in the start of the 1990s. Korea Air, an airline company, added bibimbap to its in-flight menu. 

From there, bibimbap skyrocketed in fame and became one of the most beloved in-flight meals in the world. But can you eat it too?

Where To Buy Bibimbap

In South Korea, it’s pretty easy to find bibimbap. With it being such a trendy dish, you can get it from almost any restaurant. 

Even the cheapest restaurants are likely to have bibimbap whether it be as a side dish or as the main course.

Outside of South Korea, it’s still relatively easy to find a restaurant that’ll serve bibimbap. Since it’s so popular in East Asia, if you go to an Asian restaurant, you’re likely to find it there. 

Korean restaurants will almost always have it. Check the menu online before going to eat.

If you’d prefer to make it yourself, you can gather the ingredients you want at your local grocery store. Remember that rice is the base of the dish, so you’ll want to buy a lot of it depending on the size of the portion you’re making.

It’s very rare to find pre-packaged bibimbap, but you could ask the workers at your local grocery store if they have anything of the sorts. 

It tastes better when you make it on your own, so it’s recommended that you get the proper ingredients and make it that way instead.

How To Eat Bibimbap

Since bibimbap is mixed rice, there’s actually many ways you can eat and prepare it. Whether you do the vegan option by removing the meat and egg or not, you can make bibimbap a side dish. 

Side dishes are called banchan (반찬) in Korean.

Typically, bibimbap is served hot during the winter, and room temperature in the other seasons. Either way, you can eat it at any temperature you want. Hot or cold, it’s still good and healthy for you.

There’s three main ways you should try to eat bibimbap. As a side dish, on its own, or as a snack. After you’re done, you should also know how to store it.

Eating Bibimbap As A Side Dish

As a side dish, bibimbap works perfectly. Since it’s not overly filling, having it on the side to compliment your main dish is a great choice. 

It also saves you money since you don’t have to buy as many ingredients for a large portion of bibimbap.

If you’re looking to try bibimbap but don’t want to buy it at a restaurant or eat a large portion of it, try making it as a side dish. 

That way, you can sample the meal without making too much of it or making it your entire meal. If you don’t like it, then no harm done; you still have an entree to eat.

Eating Bibimbap On Its Own

In Korea, bibimbap is often served on its own in a large serving size. If you look online for bibimbap bowls, you’ll see they’re pretty big. 

The portion sizes are generous, and that’s a good thing for those looking for a filling meal, sharing, or leftovers after you’re done eating.

Eating Bibimbap As A Snack

It may sound silly, but bibimbap makes a wonderful, small, and healthy snack. If you cook a side dish portion, you’re looking at a nutritious and energizing food. 

It’s especially a good idea if you have leftover bibimbap in the fridge.

All you have to do is reheat the bibimbap on a stove top for 7 to 10 minutes or until it’s at a temperature you like. 

From there, you have your snack. However, if you’re cooking from scratch, it’ll take a bit longer. But since it’s a smaller portion, it won’t take as long as normal.

A small size, depending on what ingredients you’re using, can take you between 15 to 45 minutes. 

If you’re making a whole meal, it’ll take closer to an hour. That’s why it works as a snack portion: it doesn’t take too much time, and it’s very healthy.

How To Store Bibimbap

If you have leftovers, you’ll need to store them fast to preserve the crispness of the vegetables. 

When the bibimbap reaches room temperature, put it in an airtight container. In the fridge, it’ll last up to 2 days, so you’ll need to eat it fast.

The one major downside to bibimbap is that it’s not very freezer-friendly. That means you should only store it in the fridge. 

If you really want to freeze it, try to separate the ingredients as much as you can, like the sauce and rice. That way you’ll preserve more of the flavor.

Conclusion

Bibimbap is a well known Korean dish both in Asia and outside it. It’s growing in popularity around the world. 

It’s made up of mixed rice, assorted seasonal vegetables, meat, sauce, and a fried egg on top. You can remove the egg and meat to make it vegan.

The famous meal originates from South Korea. There are two possible origins for it. One is in the 1800s, and the other is in the Joseon Dynasty. 

In the start of the 1990s, bibimbap became popular when it was added to the in-flight menu of the airline Korea Air.

Lastly, you can enjoy bibimbap in many ways. It’s a highly customizable meal, meaning you can serve and prepare it however you want. 

The most common ways to serve bibimbap are as a side dish or on its own, but you can also eat it as a snack.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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