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Low sodium bibimbap

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

I love bibimbap because I can use any combination of vegetables/meats I have on hand to throw over rice for a hearty, satisfying meal. Bibimbap is usually topped with a delicious but very salty sauce made from gochujang paste which can have over 500 mg of sodium per tablespoon. This low sodium sauce hits all the same flavors at just 4 mg of sodium per tablespoon.

Servings: Two bowls, serves 4

Sodium: 75 mg sodium per serving (plus 4 mg/tablespoon for sauce)

Time: 45 minutes

Sauce ingredients:

pinch of bonito flakes

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons unsalted tahini

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup coarse pepper flakes

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Other ingredients:

4-6 cups cooked rice

2 eggs, fried

2 medium carrots, julienned

1 bunch of kale

8 ounces brown mushrooms, sliced thin

1 medium yellow onion

2 small Persian cucumbers, sliced thin

2 sheets toasted unsalted seaweed, cut in strips

2 scallions, sliced thin

sesame seeds for topping

For the sauce:

1) Combine soy sauce substitute, bonito flakes, sugar, water, and garlic in a small saucepan (mine is 1.5 quarts) and heat until it comes to a simmer then turn off the stove. A pinch of bonito flakes is just that, I add whatever amount I can pinch between my index finger and thumb.

2) Add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir to combine, then blend until smooth. If you have an immersion blender, you can easily blend the sauce in a 2 cup measuring cup. Top with sesame seeds.

I buy my pepper flakes at a Korean market but they're available on Amazon and have zero sodium. I wouldn't suggest substituting this with the dried chili flakes that you put on pizza. Those are much easier to find but they don't have the right flavor. The sauce keeps refrigerated for at least two weeks. If it gets a little thick in the refrigerator, thin it with a little hot water before serving.

To make bibimbap:

1) Sautée each of the vegetables separately in about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil for 1-2 minutes or longer if you prefer. You can cook them all together but keeping them separate ensures they cook evenly and plate nicely. Bibimbap is really flexible, so you can substitute vegetables easily. Here I've used carrots, onions, mushrooms, kale and cucumbers for a nice combination of textures and flavors. Bibimbap is often made with spinach but I've used kale because it's much lower in sodium than spinach. You can really use any vegetable combination you like here, just find a balance that works for you. When we have extra sauce in the fridge I'll often just eat it over a bowl of rice, a fried egg, and some sliced cucumbers for a very fast, nearly no-cook dinner. And of course, meat! I love beef in my bibimbap but often eat it vegetarian because between the meat and an egg, it's usually a bit too high in sodium for us.

2) Assemble the bowl - this recipe makes two large bowls, and each bowl is 2 servings. Start with rice, then pile on your vegetables and a fried egg. Add the seaweed strips last because they'll wilt as soon as they hit the hot rice. Top with a combination of black and white toasted sesame seeds, and sliced scallions. I serve this with the sauce on the side because it looks nice, but as soon as we al sit down to eat, we throw the sauce on top and mix everything together.

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