This is a vegetarian version of the popular Korean bulgogi. Vegetarian Korean Beef is a dish you didn’t know you needed. It uses textured vegetable protein to achieve the same results as ground beef. 20 minutes start to finish! Even carnivores can’t get enough of this!
VEGETARIAN KOREAN BEEF
I’ve been told that in Korea, this dish is referred to as Bulgogi. It translates to ‘fire meat.” Now, I’m not a big fan of extremely hot or spicy foods, but I was able to eat Vegetarian Korean Beef comfortably. I shared it with my colleagues and they reported back that it wasn’t too spicy for them either.
There was never a plan to make this dish. But, I found it as I was researching dishes made with ground beef. The plan was to convert ground beef recipes to a vegetarian version using store-bought vegetarian beef crumbles, or textured vegetable protein. (TVP) I knew I could make a vegetarian version and have it taste just as good – or better – than the original.
WANT A MEAT OPTION?
As I have said before, if you want the meat version of this dish, simply switch out the TVP with ground beef. Just be sure to drain the grease before adding the rest of the ingredients in your recipe.
I’ve said it before; 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; it’s easy; and, most of the ingredients will already be in your pantry or fridge. More importantly, it’s really, really delicious!
HERE’S WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Vegetarian Beef Crumbles – You can hydrate dried TVP, or use a store-bought, prepared “beef.” We use the Yves brand quite often, but I have used Gardein and we love the Beyond Beef brand, but it can be really expensive.
- Brown Sugar – The sweetness counteracts the saltiness of the soy sauce, and helps to caramelize the “beef.”
- Soy Sauce – Flavour and colour is what this ingredient adds.
- Oil – You will need olive oil for cooking and sesame oil for flavour.
- Produce – Onion, garlic, and ginger, and green onions. These are full of Asian flavour and adds warmth, spice, heat, and freshness.
- Sesame Seeds – These are optional, but I love the nuttiness and the texture they add to this dish.
- Dried Red Chili Flakes – I add these to many dishes. Add just a little for some warmness, or a lot for some kick!
ADAPT THE SPICE LEVEL
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 Vegetarian Korean 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.
SOME OTHER VARIATIONS
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 Vegetarian Korean 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? 🙂
Vegetarian Korean Beef
- 340 grams vegetarian beef crumbles
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 4 cups basmati rice, cooked
- 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 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.
- 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.
- Continue to sauté until all of the liquid is absorbed – about 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the sesame seeds and stir to incorporate.
- Serve over cooked rice and top with sliced green onions.