Korean Food: Bibimbap 비빔밥


Inspired by today’s lunch menu, in which everyone was bum-rushing to get into our cafeteria, I want to tell you a bit about Bibimbap (비빔밥).

Traditionally, Bibimbap consists of  a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (나물 sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (고추장 chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat  is usually added. It is usually thin pieces of beef. The ingredients are then stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot, I think I would personally prefer hot with less than the mass amount my teachers tend to pile on their plate. Bibimbap literally means “a mixed meal”. Bibimbap contains all the nutrition that is needed for a complete meal.


Siuijeonseo (시의전서), a cookbook compiled in the late 1800s, includes the first-ever reference to bibimbap. The author is officially unknown but there are speculations that it would have been a woman of nobility who created the book. She would have been part of the yangban (양반). The yangban were part of the traditional ruling class or nobles of  Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. In these records, bibimbap is also referred to as bubuimbap (부븸밥) and goldongban (골동반). As gol means ‘disorderly’ and dong means ‘mix,’goldong refers to thoroughly mixing different things together. Therefore, goldongban is a reference to rice combined with various side dishes or ingredients in a bowl.

There are three main theories as to its origin according to this article

  1. The first states that it was a royal dish prepared for the King as a light snack whenever he was hungry between meals.
  2. The second claims that it was a staple peasant dish during the farming season.
  3. The third says that it was born in the Donghak uprising in 1894 when the peasants who revolted had to mix their vegetables and rice together in one bowl because they didn’t have enough plates or bowls to serve the vegetables as a side dish

I first had it in Jeonju, famous for its bibimbap. We had our EPIK orientation there and introduced us to the dish. According to records, people started to eat bibimbap in Jeonju two hundred years ago. Jeonju bibimbap owes its popularity to perfectly steamed rice topped with freshly cut vegetables (10 different ingredients in Jeonju) combined with the excellent cooking skills of the local women. Also Jeonju is where the Joseon Dynasty began.

In 2002, Jeonju went as far as creating a research center to further globalize bibimbap.

“This research center aims to provide new Bibimbap making, packaging, cooking and preserving processes so it can be consumed by a wider public throughout the international world. This research center also will embark on promotional marketing projects to globally publicize the taste and history of bibimbap, in collaboration with the Jeonju Bibimbap Globalization team.”

In the News:

Welcome to the fusion of America and Korea…….The Bibimbap Burger! :

Interestingly enough, as I sat on my desk digesting my big meal, a teacher passed along this article from The Korea Times about a new burger in my very own NYC that fuses together two very signature dishes. The American Burger and Bibimbap. A chef from the hit TV show “Top Chef”, Angela Sosa, has combined these two at her restaurant Social Eatz.

My Take On It

I‘m slowly growing fond of the dish. It has been a slow process. I grew up eating rice everyday, than had an overload on a trip to Mozambique where we gorged on it for lunch and dinner for about two weeks. Needless to say, rice isn’t on my top fav foods list. Perhaps I will soon try Dolsot Bibimbap (돌솥비빔밥), served in an extremely hot stone bowl that cooks the rice to a crisp on the bottom and edges. That may just get my appetite going!

I leave you with this beautifully made video that promotes Korean culture and Bibimbap!


3 thoughts on “Korean Food: Bibimbap 비빔밥

  1. Normally I would be concerned about that burger, but Angelo always made such pretty food on Top Chef that it makes me really want to try it. As if burgers weren’t hard enough to eat!

  2. Hello~ I’m Tourism English Interpretation Department senior YuJin Won from Korea Tourism Senior Highschool. My English name is Rachel. I will introduce one of Korean culture for my school assignment. I’m not good at English. So please understand me and read my writing. Jeonju where I live in is famous for ‘Bibimpap’. Therefore I want to introduce ‘Bibimpap’. Do you know ‘Bibimpap’? It is Korea traditional food. Basically it need to put various vegetables, rice, a soft-boiled egg, and Gochujang(red pepper paste). Each region is slightly different ingredients. You can adjust spicy level as much as you want to put Gochujang. Because a lot of vegetables to enter, it is Good for your health as well as vegetarian also can enjoy without worry. Also many international airlines offer ‘Bibimpap’ as in-flight meal. It is one of the food that lead globalization of Korean food. When you mix ‘Bibimbap’ is recommended to use chopsticks. Because spoon make grain of rice smash. I’m proud of ‘Bibimpap’, Korean culture. I am very pleased to be able to inform the ‘Bibimbap’ to foreign friends. I’m proud of ‘Bibimpap’, Korean food culture. If you want to know more about Korean food, please send me mail(gil5327@hanmail.net). Thank you for reading my writing. Have a nice day~:)❤

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