Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spicy Korean beef bowl

Topped with tangy kimchi, this super fast spicy Korean beef bowl with quinoa and bok choy is a healthy, gluten-free riff on bibimbap. 

gluten free spicy korean beef bowl with bok choy and kimchi

I've said it before but it bears repeating: The Ninj and this blog are all about healthy, easy recipes that anyone can make -- especially for weeknight dinners, when we all feel we don't have enough time to cook a healthy meal.

This spicy Korean beef bowl, a gluten-free riff on bibimbap, is my new favorite example of just such a recipe.

For those that aren't familiar with it, bibimbap is a traditional Korean rice bowl topped with sauteed vegetables, a spicy sauce, some meat and a fried egg, all of which is tossed together just before eating.

In February, I was in New York City for a meeting. (Oh my, doesn't that sound glamorous? Trust me,  my life is not glamorous, unless you call working at home in yoga pants glamorous. Besides, I was only in New York for about 24 hours and spent most of it either at the airport or in a meeting room.) While there, we ate at a restaurant called Barn Joo, a self-proclaimed "Korean-inspired gastropub" (whatever the heck that means) with a farm-to-table focus. I really enjoyed Barn Joo's bibimbap because it was served in a hot stone bowl, which made the rice slightly crispy and chewy.

That chewiness made me think of quinoa, which I've been enjoying over the past few years as an alternative to rice in many recipes, not only because of its higher percentages of protein and fiber but also because it's gluten-free, which is an important recipe consideration for many of my readers. (As a pasta addict, I get plenty of gluten every week, so eating a little less of it by choosing quinoa is probably a good thing!)

gluten free spicy korean beef bowl with bok choy and kimchi

So when it came time to try to recreate a version of Barn Joo's bibimbap at home -- which I always try to do when I have something at a restaurant that I love and that seems fairly straightforward, recipe-wise -- I opted for quinoa over rice.

Whether you choose quinoa or rice, it's really the spicy beef that makes this bibimbap bowl a standout. Umami-rich fish sauce gives it a hint of sweetness that balances the spice. Top it with some flash-sauteed bok choy, tangy kimchi and an oozy-yolked fried egg and you've got the perfect complete meal, ready in under 15 minutes.

Yes, a healthy meal in just the amount of time it takes to cook the quinoa! Now that's what a call an easy, healthy weeknight meal.

Do you try to recreate restaurant dishes at home? Which has been your most successful? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

gluten free spicy korean beef bowl with bok choy and kimchi

Spicy Korean Beef Bowl (Gluten-Free Bibimbap)

If you really like your bowls spicy, try topping the egg with a splash or Siracha as well. (recipe inspired by Barn Joo and Cooking Light)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I use Huy Fong)
3 teaspoons fish sauce
3 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. lean ground sirloin
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3-4 cups thinly sliced bok choy (leaves and stems)
3-4 eggs (number depends on size of your servings)
prepared kimchi (I use Mother in Law's Napa Cabbage kimchi)

Cook the quinoa according to package directions.

Whisk together the sugar, chili garlic sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat some canola or vegetable oil over high heat. Add the garlic and beef and stir fry, breaking up the meat with a spoon, for about 2-3 minutes or until beef is cooked. Stir in the sauce mixture and cook for about a minute. Remove the meat mixture from the pan with a slotted spoon to a bowl or platter and set aside. Return the pan to the heat, adding the bok choy and red pepper. Stir fry for about 2 minutes or until the bok choy is crisp-tender. Add the bok choy and any remaining liquid to the beef and set aside.

With a paper towel, wipe out the pan, put it back on the heat (medium) and add another teaspoon or two of oil to the pan. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry until whites are set but yolks are still runny.

Divide the quinoa, beef and bok choy into bowls, and top each with an egg and a spoonful of chopped kimchi.

-- print recipe --


  1. My husband and I have a great Cashew Chicken recipe that we love! It's successful on many levels. It tastes great, we can make a huge pot and eat it for days, we can add as many cashews as we want (restaurants always seem to go too light), aaaaand my husband chooses to do most of the work in the recipe! :)

    1. Sounds like there are LOTS of reasons to love that cashew chicken -- especially since it gives you a break from the cooking, too!

  2. I need to go make dinner now because I just drooled on my keyboard. This looks like absolute perfection. Loving your 3/4 backlighting here, very pretty Ninj. Pinning.

    1. High praise indeed from you, my friend!!! Hope you give this one a try -- I think you'll love it. And thanks for the pin love.

  3. I love the idea of spicy korean beef and my husband loves kimchee. I should make this for him!

  4. Replies
    1. It is, Kalyn -- we eat it a LOT now because it's so easy, too.

  5. One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants is a Korean one. You can build your own bibimbap with any number of yummy ingredients and I LOVE that the rice gets crispy in the hot stone bowl. Your version looks amazing, Julianne. Great idea to substitute quinoa! Great post!

    1. Thanks, Bill -- I love the idea of a build-your-own-bibimbap station, like Mongolian bbq. Enjoy!