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Vegan Gochujang (Pepper Paste) Bulgogi Recipe

January 12, 2011

vegan seitan pepper paste bulgolgi

So Gochujang-bulgogi is the Korean pepper paste version of bulgogi. In Korea, the pepper paste bulgogi is just as popular as the soy sauce bulgogi, which is considered more traditional. Especially if you go towards the Northeast – Gangwon province, pepper paste bulgogi is really REALLY popular. Hope you try it, you will love it if you like bulgogi and also like spicy food! 😉

Vegan Gochujang (Korean Pepper Paste) Bulgogi Recipe (serves 5-6)

2lb of seitan or tempeh, sliced (we prefer the seitan when we make the pepper paste version)
1-2 head red leaf lettuce (or leafy green of your choice)
1/2 bulb garlic (halved for grilling)
1 large white or yellow onion (sliced)
6 Tbsp Korean pepper paste
1 Tbsp Korean pepper powder (optional, if you add this for a thicker, grainier consistency, you can decrease the amount of pepper paste a bit)
2 Tbsp garlic, minced or crushed
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp agave or sugar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
4 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp white cooking wine or mirin
4 scallions (chopped)
4 green/red Korean peppers (diced)
Sauce: ssamjang or gochujang (Korean pepper paste)

1. Slice the narrow end of the seitan/tempeh into 1/2″ slices. You want it thick enough to hold together as you mix it, but narrow enough to soak up the marinade well.

2. Mix the marinade together and marinate the seitan/tempeh and onions in it, at least half an hour to 2 hours. Be sure to stir now and then to ensure it marinates well.

3. You’re now ready to grill your seitan/tempeh, garlic, onions and peppers. You can also just saute it, but really grilling is much better. If you’ve got some extra marinade left, you can spoon a little over everything while it grills.

4. When it’s done, serve by taking a lettuce leaf, adding a bit of your sauce of choice (ssamjang or gochujang), the seitan/tempeh, garlic, onions. You add rice and some kimchi if you feel like it. Wrap it up like a taco and eat!

our homemade seitanThis is our homemade seitan! (Yum. It’s really delicious even without any seasoning.) You can also find loaves of frozen wheat gluten in some Asian grocery stores’ freezer section and most grocery stores now carry seitan and/or tempeh in their organic food section.

marinating vegan pepper paste bulgolgiMix everything up well! Be careful if you’re using tempeh as it can crumble easily, which is why we prefer seitan for the pepper paste bulgolgi.

grilling vegan pepper paste bulgolgi
Don’t forget that it can be that much tastier if you use a grill, but you can also just saute it in a skillet if you haven’t picked one up yet.

grilled vegan pepper paste bulgolgi
Mmmmm….. Mashisayo (yummy)!

vegan pepper paste bulgolgi
Delicious! If you want to eat it like an authentic Korean, you put the whole thing in your mouth at one go. We’ve noticed that kids also enjoy this challenge, but keep in mind that the leaf lettuce in Korea is much more bite-size friendly, so you’d be better off using smaller leaves or tearing them into smaller pieces to keep things truly bite-sized!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Blake permalink
    January 28, 2011 9:15 pm

    Looks great, like all your stuff. What seitan recipe are you using?

    Cheers from the Rocky Mountains,


    • Sunnie permalink*
      January 29, 2011 7:32 am

      Hello, Blake!

      Thanks for finding us. We use a Korean style seitan recipe for bulgogi. We think it’s yummy – and it works really well for the bulgogi recipes. I will be sure to post the seitan recipe soon!

      • Julie permalink
        February 2, 2011 6:00 am

        I can’t wait to see your seitan recipe! I use a standard one, but would like to try a Korean style seitan.

      • Sunnie permalink*
        February 2, 2011 10:25 am

        Hi, Julie, I’m getting the post ready right now, so it’ll be up soon! 😉

  2. May 8, 2011 5:48 pm


    Which brand of gochujang do you buy? I buy one that don’t have the MSG in it. Some have MSG in it. I don’t know if the translation to English is always correct. The box that I bought is all in Korean but there is a translation to English as the ingredients list. I was surprised that some put MSG in it.


    • Sunnie permalink*
      May 8, 2011 10:26 pm

      Debbie! I know, when I see MSG in the smaller gochujang brands, I gasp! (I get huge headaches from MSG) I don’t know why they include MSG in gochujang, when they absolutely don’t need it! I usually use Haetae gochujang (smaller brand) and Haechandle gochujang (bigger brand). You’re right, I’ve noticed that the english translation is not always correct… (sometimes they are), so we need to be careful!

  3. May 9, 2011 12:11 pm

    Thanks Sunnie! I googled it and it seems the same one I bought. Thanks for the info. I have to be careful when reading the ingredients.

    • Sunnie permalink*
      May 9, 2011 12:51 pm

      Awesome, I’m glad. I like both, but the bigger brand (Haechandle gochujang) is a lot spicier, I’ve noticed!

  4. September 11, 2011 10:58 pm

    I just know that there are vegan recipe bulgogi. This recipe is very interesting because it uses tempeh (this is my favorite food). Since I am trying to reduce meat consumption. thank’s sunnie.

    • Sunnie permalink*
      September 12, 2011 7:10 am

      Thanks Jhon for visiting us! It is so wonderful that you are trying to reduce meat, and that you love tempeh too! I hope you enjoy the recipe and please don’t forget to check out our soy sauce bulgogi recipe as well. 😉

  5. vegankalbiboy permalink
    January 30, 2012 8:59 pm

    I love your website! I have been trying to seek out a gluten-free, vegan, gochujang for the past week with little success. Most of the commercial Korean brands have too many darn preservatives and additives that I don’t understand in addition to malt (which is made from gluten rich barley). I would love to make my own but can’t find a recipe without the malt powder. Can you guys recommend a recipe or give me some direction on this. I saw some quick recipes made with miso and even doenjang but will those taste even close to the real thing? Thanks and keep up the great blog! You’re doing Korean Food a great service while supporting the vegan community as well.

    • Bill permalink*
      January 31, 2012 8:09 pm

      Hi, vegankalbiboy! Love your handle (name)! 🙂 Thanks for the kind comments. I did some looking at, and you’re right, they all seem to have wheat or malt in them. That being said, I didn’t look through all of them, and most of them include ingredients, so you might take another look. As for the recipes using miso and doenjang, it’s worth a try. The gochujang recipe I have in one of my cookbooks also uses quite a bit of malt. I googled gluten-free malt substitute and found this product. Now, I don’t really know that much about gluten-free cooking or malt, but doing a little reading on the Web, it appears malt is sweet, so you could try substituting agave syrup? Now obviously that wouldn’t have the enzymes that malt has but might be able to serve in a pinch. My understanding is that rice is gluten-free, right? So you might be able to try rice malt? I found rice malt syrup online, so you could look into that too. Again, double-check as this is just my brainstorming, and I’m not a gluten-free expert! Good luck, and thanks again for the kind thoughts!

  6. enrica permalink
    April 4, 2012 10:04 am

    hello. I’m new vegetarian. i love korean sauce. nowadays i worried ingredients. i don’t know ingredients of kochujang, samjang, tuinjang. can u tell me about that. plsss 🙂 is that vegan???

    • Bill permalink*
      April 4, 2012 10:17 am

      Hi, enrica. Thanks for visiting the blog. Usually all of these are vegan, but you really should always check the ingredients. Sometimes restaurants or companies might add anchovies or even a little ground beef. But they are all almost always vegan, so it’s unusual if they are not. Still, we’ve learned to always check the ingredients if we can. It’s part of a vegan life! 😉

  7. Rae permalink
    February 11, 2018 7:34 am

    Hello! Great idea. I am always trying to find ways to make Korean dishes vegetarian without compromising taste.

    I’ve never really worked with seitan before but am trying to make this recipe this week.

    Question: can I marinate the seitan overnight? Or will it dissolve if I do that?


    • Bill permalink*
      February 11, 2018 7:44 am

      I would think it would be fine. If you want a less labor intensive bulgogi, you can try using the soy curls we mention in our other bulgogi recipe. Butler soy curls are available on Amazon.


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