As the author of a whole book on bowl food, I’ve explored bowl cuisine in all its forms. But I have to give all respect to the OG of bowl food, the folks who created Bibimbap. Yes, Korean cooks made a feast in a bowl long before American hippies started piling up brown rice and veggies. Bowl food traces its roots right back to the Asian countries who made an art of topping their daily rice with flavorful tidbits.

Bowl Food is timeless

The latest food trend analysis has two concepts at the top of the charts. 2018 will bring us more Korean Food, and more plant-based food. Looks like I’m in the right place at the right time, with my Kim Chi and Gochjang laced veggie food.

I’m not claiming that it’s authentic to Korean cuisine. But by tapping those flavor profiles, I’m guaranteed to get something good.

Bowl Food is easy

Take this super easy bowl. I had some cooked Freekeh in the fridge, and a roasted Stokes Purple Sweet Potato, so I was halfway there. For the dressing, I wanted something unfussy and super-flavorful, so I just stirred up some tahini, Gochujang, rice vinegar, tamari and a little brown sugar.

Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes

The Stokes Purples are in Front

If you’ve missed the ascendancy of Gochujang, the hot sauce of Korea, don’t worry, it will be on a menu near you any time now. Like Sriracha before it, this hot sauce is entering the American mainstream. The best way to think of the flavor is as a combo of umami-bomb miso with chile and the sweet, tangy notes of fermented rice. Korean cuisine is known for it’s hot and funky fermented foods, and this sauce kind of sums it all up.

Bowl Food goes with you

This is a good example of how flexible and packable bowl food can be. If you wait to slice the avocado, it can all be done a day or two ahead. If you want to add some protein, you can just toss in your favorite leftover.

Wake up those tired taste buds with this spicy, savory bowl food!

Freekeh and Purple Sweet Potato Bowl with Sesame-Gochujang Sauce

Cook extra Freekeh and roast a purple sweet potato so you can make this easy bowl.
Course Main Course
Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell



  • 1/4 cup Gochujang
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or other sweetener


  • 4 cup cooked freekeh or other grain cooled
  • 1 medium purple sweet potato roasted, cooled
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 small golden beets peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 small watermelon radishes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch kale chopped
  • pea shoots for garnish


  • For the sauce, place the gochujang and tahini in a medium bowl and stir until well-mixed, then gradually stir in the rice vinegar, tamari, and brown sugar.
  • Build your bowls, placing a cup of grain in the bottom of each. Arrange sweet potato, avocado, beets, radishes and kale on the grain, then drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with pea shoots and serve.