Bibimbap – Gluten-free, low-FODMAP version

BibimbapBibimbap is one of those beautiful dishes to which you can add almost anything, substitute almost anything, and still end up with something delicious. Basically, you need a bowl of hot rice, some toppings, and a spicy sauce. You mix it all up at the table and you have a bellyful of Korean comfort food. Depending somewhat on the toppings you use, it’s a relatively healthy dish, and because it’s improvisational by nature, you don’t really have to measure anything. It’s a good way to use up leftovers too. And did I mention it tastes great? It’s a real family favourite around here.

Bibimbap toppingsThe following isn’t really a recipe because honestly, you don’t need one for bibimbap. Think of it more as a guide. The guide I provide is for a relatively traditional version of bibimbap, featuring white rice, beef, cooked vegetables, egg, and nori. However, I’ve also made bibimbap using brown rice or quinoa, raw salad greens, seasoned tofu, and more unusual vegetables including samphire. Omit beef and you have a great, hearty vegetarian dish. Once you have the basic idea down, go wild! I bet you’ll come up with something delicious.


Serves 2-3 (or 2 adults and 2 children, as in our case)

  • 1.5 cups short-grained rice, AKA calrose rice, AKA Japanese rice, AKA sushi rice (though it isn’t really “sushi rice” because it isn’t seasoned)*
  • 2 cups water*
  • Ground beef (I used maybe a half cup of cooked leftovers – if you use a whole family-sized pack it will be too much for this dish)
  • 1 egg per person
  • 1-2 large handfuls bean sprouts
  • 1 bunch spinach or 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1-2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 zucchini/courgette, julienned
  • Small handful of chives, minced
  • 1-2 large sheets nori, cut in small strips**
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shichimi, optional***
  • Bibimbap sauce (see below)

* If you want to make more or less rice, you’ll be fine as long as you use the correct proportions: 1 1/3 cup of rice to one cup water. Short-grained rice requires less water than long-grained rice.

** If you’re gluten-free, do not use seasoned/roasted/yaki nori, as it’s usually seasoned with soy sauce, which contains wheat.

*** See note about this condiment in my jap chae recipe

  1. Make the rice by putting the rice and water in a pot together. Bring to the boil on high heat, then when the lid is starting to rattle, turn down to minimum. For short grain rice, I do not advise using the pasta-like technique of boiling in too much water, then draining. You will wind up with a gluey mess.
  2. Make the sauce (see separately written out recipe below)
  3. Prepare toppings as follows. Set each topping aside in a small bowl.
    • Stir-fry ground beef with a small amount of sesame oil, salt, and pepper
    • Blanch bean sprouts by pouring just-boiled water over them, leaving for a minute or so, then drain. Lightly season with sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
    • Wilt spinach by blanching as above, briefly steaming, or briefly stir-frying. Squeeze out excess water. Again, lightly season with just a bit of sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
    • Stir-fry julienned carrot in a bit of sesame oil until tender-crisp and lightly browned. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
    • Do the same as above with the julienned zucchini, but separately.
    • Do this last: Make sunny-side-up eggs, leaving the yolk still runny. (At least, this is how I remember eating the eggs in bibimbap when I thought they tasted best. Unfortunately, of late I seem to have regained a childhood allergy to undercooked eggs. This has nothing to do with being gluten-free or low-FODMAP, but I now make scrambled egg for myself.)
  4. Put a generous portion of steaming hot rice into a large bowl. Arrange the toppings attractively. Slide a piping hot egg on top.
  5. Pour a generous amount of bibimbap sauce on top or use plain soy sauce if you have picky children (as I do). Mix it all up together using a large spoon. The hot rice will partially finish cooking the egg yolk. This will be a beautiful thing.

Bbibimbap mixed upBibimbap sauce – gluten-free, low-FODMAP version

This may not end up tasting exactly like regular bibimbap sauce, because its major ingredient is gochujang, which contains barley and/or wheat. However, it does taste great. Again, think of this as inspiration rather than dictation. Experiment with quantities and ingredients until you’ve come up with something you and your family like!

Bibimbap sauce

Bibimbap sauce – I actually made quite a bit more but forgot to take a picture until most of it had been eaten!

  • 1-2 tablespoons miso paste or peanut butter*
  • 1-2 tablespoons homemade barbecue sauce (store-bought almost always contains gluten) or 1 tablespoon ketchup (check ingredients for onion and/or garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly boiled water (hot water will help dissolve the miso paste/peanut butter and sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1-3 teaspoons gluten-free soy sauce/tamari
  • 1-3 teaspoons sriracha sauce (you may have to look hard to find a garlic-free brand but they are out there) or cayenne pepper to taste
  1. Mix together all the above ingredients until you have a smooth sauce. Taste and adjust as desired.

*Miso paste is relatively high in FODMAPs but I find I can handle a small quantity. If you can’t, smooth peanut butter helps provide texture and tastes good, if not necessarily authentic. If you use peanut butter, you may need to increase the amount of soy sauce you use or at least use the high end of the range above.


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