Protopantry Simple Bibimbap

Of all the international cuisines I’ve tried to eke out of my 50-ingredient pantry, Korean food has been the one I’m most afraid of. I’ve wanted to attempt a bibimbap-style bowl for MONTHS now, but there are so many ingredients that lend Korean food its delicious, distinctive flavor that I don’t keep around my kitchen. Gochujang! Kimchi! Bean sprouts! Is it even bibimbap if you got all of the components from your regular American grocery store?

I am not here to say I am the arbiter of bibimbap authenticity—not even close. In fact, I’ve only spent one day in Korea, and I barely left the airport. However. If you would like to make a dish that a) resembles bibimbap and b) tastes pretty good with food you can grab from almost any market, I’ve got just the ticket.

This simple bibimbap recipe will get your dinner on the table in the time it takes to steam brown rice. It features sweet-and-savory turkey, quick-pickled carrots and onions (I had to up the complexity somehow!), stir-fried spinach, and fried egg. Whip it up the next time you’re craving something a little out of the ordinary, and let me know if it satisfies your bibimbap cravings.

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Everything on is made using our 50-ingredient minimalist pantry list. We have recipes from all over the world and for most dietary needs—explore here.

Simple Bibimbap Recipe

Make this Korean-style bowl in about the time it takes to steam brown rice.

Makes: 4 servings

 Simple Bibimbap Recipe

Prep time:

Cook time:


    For the Quick-Pickled Vegetables

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • For the Turkey “Bulgogi”

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if desired or necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced (about 2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • For the Sauce

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce(use gluten-free if desired or necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)

  • Everything else

  • 2 cups brown rice, uncooked
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil (for cooking), divided
  • 4 eggs

    To Start: Rice and Quick-Pickled Vegetables

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Because your bowl components will finish at various times, you may need to keep them warm on a large, oven-safe serving dish or dishes in the oven.
  2. Prepare the rice according to package instructions.
  3. While the rice cooks, add all ingredients for the quick-pickled vegetables to a microwave-safe bowl or jar that has a lid and stir. Add additional water if the vegetables are not completely submerged.
  4. Microwave the vegetables on high, covered, for about two minutes. Watch carefully to ensure that the mixture does not bubble over—pause and stir if the liquid rises too high.
  5. Allow the vegetables to sit in the hot liquid for about three to four minutes on the counter. Then, add a large handful of ice to the mixture and put the vegetables in the refrigerator or freezer to cool. If you put the vegetables in the freezer, be sure to leave extra room in the container because the liquid may begin to expand.

  6. To Stir-Fry: Turkey “Bulgogi,” Spinach, and Egg

  7. While the rice continues to cook, add all ingredients for the turkey bulgogi to a large skillet or wok over medium heat and stir well, breaking up the turkey with a heat-safe spatula (we recommend wooden). Continue to stir the turkey and cook through completely (about five-six minutes; you should not be able to see any pink pieces).
  8. Transfer the turkey to an oven-safe dish in the oven to keep warm, discarding any extra liquid from the skillet.
  9. Add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet, still over medium heat, and saute the spinach until wilted. Transfer the spinach to the oven, keeping it warm separately from the turkey.
  10. Again, add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet, still over medium heat, and fry the eggs. Keep the yolks runny (note: this can increase your risk for foodborne illness, so do use caution especially if you are pregnant or immunocompromised).

  11. To Finish

  12. Whisk all of the ingredients for the sauce together in a small bowl. Taste the sauce and add additional red pepper flakes for more heat as desired.
  13. Layer the cooked rice, turkey, spinach, and pickled vegetables in large bowls. Top each bowl with a fried egg and a drizzle of sauce, and enjoy.

Notes and Nutrition Information

  • Feel free to make all components of this dish except for the eggs up to three days ahead of time, storing them separately in the refrigerator. Make fresh fried eggs immediately before serving.

  • You can substitute beef, chicken, tofu, or tempeh for turkey. Be sure to choose lean ground beef and skim off excess fat when cooking to avoid an overly greasy bowl.

  • You may find that this recipe produces a bit more turkey bulgogi than you need (I try to write recipes in buy-able increments). If you have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days—they make delicious omelets, tacos, burritos, and more.

  • Use low-sodium soy sauce to reduce the sodium in this recipe by about a third. This meal’s a (delicious) salt bomb :)

  • One fourth of the recipe as written contains approximately 856 calories, 32 grams of fat, 102 grams of carbohydrates, 47 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2328 milligrams of sodium.