Monday, 21 June 2010

Vegan / Vegetarian Korean Food

As Korea tends to be a very meat centered food culture, it might seem like a conundrum blogging about Vegan Korean food. It is however a large part of Hanshik (Korean food) that includes fully vegan and vegetarian elements. As Korea does see tofu as a fully legitimate ingredient, there are many foods that are on the menu in Korea that do not need to be adjusted for our diet.

What follows is a list of the most common Korean foods that are traditionally Vegetarian:

Soon Dubu Jiggae:
This soup is a wonderful traditional Korean stew that is made primarily of uncurdled Tofu. The Vegetarian version is sold as Busot (Mushroom) Soon Dubu. The mix of textures and the wonderful stock is easy to reproduce at home even for those that are not big chefs. I will post my personal Soon Dubu Recipe ASAP.

Bibimbap (or Dul sot Bimimbap)
The general translation is 'mixed rice', however this Korean dish is so much more than the name indicates. The Dulsot version is done in a hot stone pot with rice as the base and cut vegetables (usually only in season) are rested on top in a visually stunning presentation.

Dwenjang Jiggae
A mild soup made of fermented soy bean, this soup is available at most Korean restaurants, including those that only serve meat based Items. The soup is enjoyed by many and has none of the strong flavour that other fermented bean products have.

Chun Guk Jang
Another fermented bean soup, this one may take a bit of getting used to. A definite acquired taste. If this soup is done correctly it is one of the most satisfying meals to be had. With deep flavour and an exciting zing, this soup is most often served with many types of banchan (side dishes).

Kimchi Mandu (dumplings)
As a vegetarian is is necessary to ascertain if the dumplings do contain pork, however traditionally kimchi mandu is most often made with tofu and no meat componants. The delicate flavour and interesting texture makes this a top choice whether it is served in a soup (kimchi mandu guk), steamed, or deep fried.

Japchae (or Japchae bap)
This is a noodle dish served hot or cold, depending on the restaurant but is always a crowd pleaser. The dish is generally made of sweet potato starch noodles, mixed with awesome mushrooms, carrots and green veggies, with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. This is one of the most popular dishes amongst the foreigners in Korea as it is not spicy and has some great flavours. It is common to see Japchae sold on top of rice at cheap fast food'ish Korean restaurants.

In addition to this there are many dishes that may be made meat free. I will continue giving advice on this in the weeks to come in addtion to sharing my own recipes for all of the above meals.


  1. SLICK! Good idea, my friend. I suggest trying to make korean pierogi.

  2. Looking forward to seeing recipes on here :)


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