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A vegetarian version of the popular bulgogi.  My version – Korean Vegetarian Beef – uses textured vegetable protein to achieve the same results as ground beef.  20 minutes start to finish!

I’ve been told that in Korea, this dish is referred to as Bulgogi and translates to ‘fire meat.”  Now, I’m not a big fan of extremely hot or spicy foods, but I was able to eat this dish comfortably.  I shared it with my colleagues and they reported back that it wasn’t too spicy for them either.

I never planned to make this dish, but as I was researching dishes made with ground beef (which I would later make into vegetarian dishes using textured vegetable protein) I stumbled upon this dish several times.  After reading a few varieties on the recipe, I knew I could make a vegetarian version and have it taste just as good – or better – than the original.

As I have said in many of my recipe posts before, if you want the meat version of this dish, simply switch out the textured vegetable protein for ground beef.  Just be sure to drain the grease from the cooked ground beef before adding the rest of the ingredients in your recipe.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure you know by now if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I love spending time by myself in my kitchen.  However, there are occasional days where I just need to cook something for dinner that’s quick and easy.  This dish is just that.  It’s fast to prepare, easy, most of the ingredients will already be in your pantry or fridge, and more importantly, it’s really, really delicious!

You can certainly adapt the spice/heat level in this recipe to fit your own personal preferences as well.  Like I said, I’m not a huge fan of overly spicy or hot food, but if you are, you can simply increase the amount of dried red chili flakes.

Another really great thing about Korean Vegetarian Beef is that a little goes a long way.  In my opinion, the “beef” is the side, not the main.  If you look at the photographs, you will note that there’s more rice than beef in terms of ratio.  You really don’t need a large amount of beef to feed a group of people.  About a cup full will be more than enough.

When making this dish, please try to use basmati rice.  I have tried this dish with plain white rice and steamed brown rice, but it just does not produce the same flavour.  Basmati rice is very aromatic, and in terms of eating, the smell of a dish accentuates the flavours and tastes.

Lastly, if you don’t have some of the ingredients on hand, please don’t try to make this dish with substitutes, because it most certainly will not taste like it’s meant to.  There’s really no substitute for sesame oil or freshly grated ginger.  Not even ground ginger will give you the right flavour profile.  These ingredients are cheap, so be sure to get the real thing before attempting to make Korean Vegetarian Beef.

Just a quick note before you get to the recipe.  This is just a personal thing and may not affect you in the same way.  I love the taste and ease of textured vegetable protein, but it really does make me bloat.  To offset that, (and this is the only change to this recipe that I will endorse or recommend!) I use three onions rather than one when making this dish for myself.

Not only does using three onions offset the amount of textured vegetable protein I’m actually eating, but it certainly extends the yield of this recipe a little more and makes enough for a least one or two more servings.  How’s that for economical?  🙂

Korean Vegetarian Beef
Serves 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
253 calories
45 g
0 g
8 g
5 g
1 g
190 g
951 g
29 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 253
Calories from Fat 68
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 951mg
Total Carbohydrates 45g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 29g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 package of Yves Veggie Ground Round (textured vegetable protein)
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  3. 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  6. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  7. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  9. 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  11. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  12. Cooked basmati rice
  13. Green onions, thinly sliced
  1. In a skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until slightly caramelized; add the garlic and veggie round ground and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, dried red chili flakes, ground black pepper, and brown sugar. Stir well into the veggie ground round mixture.
  3. Continue to sauté until all of the liquid is absorbed - about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add in the sesame seeds and stir to incorporate.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and top with sliced green onions.
  1. Gardein Beefless Ground works as a substitute to Yves Veggie Ground Round
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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. This recipe just popped up on my Pinterest feed and it looks so good that I had to pop over and take a closer look (and pin for later!). I used to live in Korea so have veganised plenty of Korean dishes but never bulgogi - it has to be next on the list now!
    1. Thanks, Paige. I couldn't eat vegetarian food unless it was super delicious - otherwise, I'd be grilling steak every night.
  2. Yumm! You know I'm a Korean food fanatic--this is right up my alley. Glad you found something not too spicy for your repertoire. ;) My Korean boyf says that the "bul" or "fire" actually refers to how this meat is usually cooked over a flame or barbecue, less the heat in the seasoning (though it definitely has a kick!).
  3. This looks amazing! And I like that it comes together quickly as the tiny terror is hurtling into the terrible twos entirely too quickly and it cuts into dinner prep time dramatically. I hope I remember to make it next time I have either veggie crumbles or ground beef in the house! Unrelated note - I actually bought mushrooms the other day to make your mushroom stroganoff and then got distracted and turned them into something else. :(
  4. I can't wait to try this recipe. I just stumbled across TVP recently and I love it. I was just wondering, do you rehydrate your TVP first or does the liquids in the recipe do that?
    1. Hi Sariah, I did not use dried TVP in this recipe. I used prepared, packaged TVP. If you're using the dry TVP, be sure to hydrate according to package instructions first.
  5. We lived in a Korean town for years and always wanted to try Korean Bulgogi. But being a vegetarian, I never found a place that served vegetarian version. Thank you for the recipe, now I can make it right in my kitchen.

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