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Korean BBQ beef made completely vegan! This recipe swaps the beef for soy curls that are marinated in the most aromatic marinade. Infused with garlic, ginger, black pepper, and toasted sesame oil, this meaty vegan bulgogi is delicious served with steamed rice!

Vegan bulgogi soy curls topped with green onions and sesame seeds.

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • Sweet, salty, nutty, and loaded with flavor. Combining soy sauce, maple syrup, and sesame oil creates the perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness. Add some garlic, pepper, and ginger on top of that, and you have a flavor bomb.
  • Meaty and chewy. Soy curls not only absorb the marinade incredibly well, but they also yield a very meaty texture.
  • Quick and easy. This vegan bulgogi requires minimal prep time and just 5 minutes in the pan. It’s a great dish to make for dinner, you can even make it ahead.

📘 What Is Bulgogi

Bulgogi (불고기) is a Korean dish that consists of marinated sliced beef grilled over a barbecue or fried in a pan. “Bulgogi” can be translated to “fire meat.” It is often served over a bed of white rice or wrapped in lettuce.

While the traditional recipe calls for puréed fruit like pear or kiwi, I omitted it. It is usually used to tenderize the meat, which we don’t need to do here.

Ingredients like soy curls, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.

🧄 Ingredient Notes

This vegan bulgogi is super easy to make and requires just 9 ingredients. Here is what you will need:

  • Soy curlsSoy curls are a meat alternative made from soybeans. It is sold dried and must be rehydrated before being used. You can substitute it with vegan chicken strips or another kind of TVP.
  • Soy sauce – For saltiness and umami. Use coconut aminos to make this recipe gluten-free.
  • Sugar – To balance with the saltiness. I went with a combination of granulated sugar and maple syrup for a subtle caramel flavor. You can use light brown sugar or coconut sugar instead.
  • Sesame oil – Use toasted sesame oil to add a nutty flavor.
  • Cooking wine – Chinese cooking wine enhances the overall aroma by bringing sweet and sour notes.
  • Garlic
  • Ginger – I highly recommend using the freshest ginger you can find for the best flavor. Old ginger tends to be more fibrous and spicier.
  • Black pepper – Freshly ground pepper adds a hearty and pungent flavor.
  • Onion – Optional. Omit it if you don’t eat onion.
  • Smoked paprika – Optional as well. I like to add a generous pinch of smoked paprika to recreate the smokiness of the traditional bulgogi.

🥣 How to Make It

Start preparing the soy curls:

  1. Add the soy curls to a deep bowl and cover with hot water.
  2. Let them rehydrate for 15-30 minutes or until soft.
  3. Drain and rinse the soy curls. Next, squeeze them to remove the excess water. Rinsing the soy curls helps get rid of the soybean flour taste.
Soaking soy curls in water.

Next, make the bulgogi:

  1. Prepare the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.
  2. Marinade the soy curls. Pour the marinade over the drained soy curls and toss to coat. Cover with plastic film and let it marinade for at least 1 hour. This will allow the soy curls to soak up the flavors of the marinade.
  3. Pan-fry. Finally, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Once hot, add the sliced onions and soy curls, and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Garnish. Top with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, and serve!
Soy curls marinated with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.

🍚 What to Serve It With

This vegan bulgogi is delicious served with steamed white rice or Clay Pot Rice, but can also be served with noodles or added to stir-fries!

You can also wrap it in lettuce leaves with some kimchi and/or spicy pickled cucumbers for extra crunch!

Soy curls with onions and bulgogi sauce in a skillet.

❄️ Freezing

Cooked vegan bulgogi freezes very well. After cooking, let it cool completely before transferring it to a freezer bag. It will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. Thaw for 2-3 hours on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. You can then reheat it over medium heat.

📔 Tips

  • Use your favorite meat substitute. This recipe is quite versatile regarding the type of vegan meat to use. You can use shredded vegan chicken, tofurky strips, seitan, or even vegan ground meat. It also works great with tofu strips that have been frozen and then thawed.
  • Rinse the soy curls. Rinsing the soy curls helps get rid of the soybean flour taste.
  • Fry over high heat. Use high heat to char the soy curls slightly. The caramelization process will create a nuttier and sweeter flavor.
Vegan bulgogi soy curls topped with green onions and sesame seeds.

💬 FAQ

Is this dish spicy?

If you are not using chili flakes, this dish is not spicy at all. It is, however, peppery.

Can I substitute the Chinese cooking wine?

You can replace it with mirin, dry sherry, or simply omit it.

How long does this vegan bulgogi keep?

After cooking, it will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can, however, make the marinade and let the soy curls marinate for up to 3 days ahead.

Close up of soy curl bulgogi.

This vegan bulgogi is super meaty and comes with the most amazing marinade! The combination of ginger, garlic, pepper, and soy sauce is simply delicious. Served with rice, it makes a satisfying, high-protein, and flavorful meal!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Vegan bulgogi soy curls topped with green onions and sesame seeds.
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Recipe

Vegan Bulgogi (Korean BBQ “Beef”)

5 from 3 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This vegan bulgogi swaps the beef for soy curls that are marinated in the most aromatic marinade. Infused with garlic, ginger, black pepper, and toasted sesame oil, this meaty vegan bulgogi is delicious served with steamed rice!
Prep Time : 20 minutes
Cook Time : 5 minutes
Resting Time : 1 hour
Total Time : 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 277 kcal

Ingredients
 

For topping

Instructions
 

  • Rehydrate the soy curls: Add the soy curls to a large bowl and cover with hot water. Let the soy curls rehydrate for 15-30 minutes.
  • Drain and squeeze them to remove the excess water. Rinse them and squeeze them again. Transfer to a deep plate or container.
  • Prepare the marinade: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, maple syrup, cooking wine, toasted sesame oil, garlic, ginger, black pepper, Korean chili flakes, and smoked paprika if using.
  • Marinade: Pour the marinade over the soy curls and toss to coat. Cover with plastic film and let it marinate for about 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Sauté: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the sliced onions and the marinated soy curls.
  • Sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly until the soy curls are slightly charred. Remove from heat and top with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed white rice or noodles!

Notes

  • Use your favorite meat substitute. This recipe is quite versatile regarding the type of vegan meat to use. You can use shredded vegan chicken, tofurky strips, seitan, or even vegan ground meat. It also works great with tofu strips that have been frozen and then thawed.
  • Rinse the soy curls. Rinsing the soy curls helps get rid of the soybean flour taste.
  • Fry over high heat. Use high heat to char the soy curls slightly. The caramelization process will create a nuttier and sweeter flavor.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 277 kcal | Carbohydrates: 29.4 g | Protein: 12.8 g | Fat: 11.9 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 1386 mg | Potassium: 115 mg | Fiber: 3.8 g | Sugar: 20.1 g | Calcium: 43 mg | Iron: 4 mg
Course : Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine : Korean
Did you make this recipe? Tag @fullofplants on Instagram and hashtag it #fullofplants
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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This recipe is so apropos. I work with someone who is Korean-American and once I asked what was his favorite dish his mom makes him and this dish is what he said. I’ve been trying to find a vegan version and hadn’t really found anything that appealed, until now. Thank you. I’ve been interested in making it, since I saw his eyes roll up into his head as he sort of whispered the name. Something that good has to be tried. Thank you 🙂

This is a completely new recipe for me. I’ll try it this weekend. Thank you Thomas!

5 stars
Thanks so much for the recipe, Thomas. This was absolutely delicious. I didn’t have any Korean chilli flakes so used Gochujang paste instead. Also, I added red capsicum, celery and cabbage and served with rice. I will definitely be making this again.

5 stars
Thomas, you his it out of the park again. My husband couldn’t stop eating this. I added some Udon noodles, and it was outstanding! Thank you again!!!!!
You rock kiddo.

5 stars
Thank you Thomas, this was absolutely delicious! It was also super easy.

I forgot to say that I baked mine in a 425* one for 20 minutes.

Hi!
I haven’t noticed I need to marinate it for 1h. I used TVP made from beans and it soaked all marinade for 5 min. It was very tasty!
I have a question for you. Which wine do you use? I want to cook with this Chinese cooking wine but I can’t find vegan one. Due manufacturing processes isinglass or gelatine can be used for making wine, as you may know. I couldn’t find any checked vegan options 😭