Korean Inspired Veggie Bibimbap Salad

PREP TIME: 30mins


This is my kind of salad, its vibrant, full of flavour and lots of textures. After soup, salads are my favourite thing to to eat. I love the fact that, like soup, they are super flexible enabling me to use what I have at home.

Quinoa is mixed with smoked tofu and mushrooms, crunchy pickled cucumber & carrots AND a red cabbage kraut.

I am all about including flavour into my food and absolutely love the mixture of smoky, from the tofu and mushrooms, and tangy, from the ferments and limes in this gorgeous salad.

Bibimbap, is a Korean rice dish with the term bibim meaning “mixing” and bap refers to the cooked rice. It is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with spicy Gochujang pepper sauce (I am addicted!). Egg and sliced meat are common additions, stirred together just before eating.

In my veggie version, I have swapped the rice for quinoa (far more interesting) and have included vibrant pickles and things! Come to think of it, it is actually nothing like a traditional bibimbap but none the less its delicious, healthy and nourishing.

It is definitely on the more ‘involved’ scale of the recipe spectrum BUT it fills 3 large jars, perfect for lunch!

Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste is totally addictive, if in Cape Town you can find it in most SPARS and at the Korean Supermarket in Observatory.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 250g smoked firm tofu
  • 400g shiitake mushrooms, blitzed to a rough crumb in a food processor (or by hand)
  • 2 carrots, cut into thin matchsticks or grated
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into thin rounds (a mandolin works wonders)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red cabbage, shredded finely (a mandolin works wonders)
  • 2 limes, one whole, one finely sliced
  • 6 small peppers or 2 large ones, seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, thickly sliced into rings
  • toasted pumpkin seeds (garnish, optional)
  • micro-herbs (garnish, optional)

Gochujang sauce

  • 4 tablespoons Gochujang sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • a few tablespoons water for consistency


  1. Cook 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water, season with salt, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and simmer for 12 minutes, by which time the little white tails should be visible, turn off the heat, cover and let the quinoa steam for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork, season with salt and olive oil.
  2. First pickle: add carrots and cucumber to a bowl, add the rice vinegar, salt, chilli flakes and sugar, mix well, Taste for seasoning, we are looking for the right combination of salt, sweet and tangy, place in the fridge.
  3. Second pickle: add the red cabbage to a bowl, add two pinches salt and the zest and juice of 1 small lime (or 1/2 if big), get your hands in there and scrunch the cabbage well, place in the fridge.
    Preheat oven 200c, add the peppers and onions to a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper, roast for 20 minutes or so until golden and soft, remove.
  4. Mix the mushrooms and tofu together, mix with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast (in the same oven as the peppers) for 8 minutes or so, until golden and soft.
  5. For the sauce, blend all the ingredients together adding more water to get the right consistency, have a taste, adjusting as needed, the sauce should be punchy!
  6. To fill 3 jars, add the following, first divide the sauce between the 3 jars, then a layer of quinoa, the peppers, the mushrooms, the carrot pickle, the cabbage, garnish with spring onions, micro herbs, pumpkin seeds and finally, a few slices limes.
  7. If serving as a salad, simply mix the ingredients together before finally garnishing with the spring onions, micro herbs, pumpkin seeds and wedges of limes. Enjoy!


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