Vegan Korean BBQ: King Oyster Mushroom “Samgyupsal” Bowls

Samgyupsal, or Korean BBQ pork belly, is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. In my quest to make it easier for me to stick to a plant-based diet more often, I’ve transformed my porky favorite into an entirely vegan experience that does the job!  You can’t replace pork…but this comes pretty close!  I’ll be the first one to ardently support a more plant-based diet.  At the same time, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the flavor and texture of pork is something that can truly be replicated with just vegetables. Pork fat is one of the earth’s treasures that simply bears no equal.  That said… This. Gets. PRETTY. CLOSE!  How? Once again, the versatile and delicious king oyster mushroom is coming to save me from my meat-eating ways!!! We use it in plant-forward dishes like my mom’s Soy Butter King Oyster Mushrooms and Sarah’s Spicy King Oyster Mushroom Stir-fry. The Magic of Liquid Smoke The trick to mimicking the taste and texture of pork in this recipe is twofold. The first is liquid smoke. This is a wonderful ingredient to have in your vegan / plant-based arsenal, as it gives you that satisfyingly smoky flavor that often accompanies grilled meats.  It’s a little trick on your brain, and a little goes a really long way. Slip some into the mushroom marinade, and use sesame oil, sugar, and salt to boost the umami even more.  The result? It tastes like the pan-fried mushrooms were mingling with a little bit of pork belly over a Korean BBQ charcoal grill.  Mimicking Textures The second trick is cutting the mushrooms lengthwise with the grain. If you cut the mushrooms with the grain lengthwise, they will have more of a bite, kind of like a piece of pork belly with skin on it would.  But you can also opt to cut the mushrooms crosswise, against the grain, to get more tender results. It’s up to you! I personally love the little bit of trickery that comes with cutting the mushrooms lengthwise.  If you like, you can cut the mushrooms using a pair of scissors before you dig in, much like they cut the meat at Korean BBQ restaurants: Luckily, Korean BBQ Has Plant-based Elements Already  The ssamjang, or spicy bean paste, is the savior of the plant-based Korean BBQ experience. This is what is typically served with samgyupsal, and it really completes the whole experience and helps you to not miss the meat.  Ssamjang is a mix of gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) and doenjang (fermented soybean paste) with a few other seasonings thrown in—Korean food blog Maangchi has a great ssamjang recipe—but I just buy the premade one in the bright green tub.  The other hero of this plant-based Korean BBQ experience is kimchi. If keeping strictly vegan, be sure to find a vegetarian kimchi that is devoid of seafood.  A bodega near my apartment is owned by a friendly Korean family, and they sell homemade kimchi—one that is vegan, and one that isn’t. We love both! If you’re not too strict about eating vegan, you can go ahead and use any kimchi that you enjoy.  I also put together a quick scallion salad to go with my grilled mushrooms, a type of banchan (small side dish) you might find at a Korean restaurant.  When you mix everything together with the mushrooms, a handful of grilled onions, long hot green chilies, and garlic, park yourself with a big metal spoon and watch it disappear.  Tip! Korean BBQ is supposed to be a relaxed and very customizable eating experience, so use this recipe as a guide, particularly when it comes to what additional veggies to grill and what other banchan you can serve in addition to what I’ve described below. Recipe Instructions First get your rice started, either in a rice cooker or on the stovetop.  Next, start the pajeori scallion salad. Cut the scallions into 2-inch lengths and julienne them very thinly. Transfer the scallions to a bowl of ice water as you cut them. This will help them curl nicely and also take some of the edge off the scallion flavor. When all the scallions are cut, set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.  Slice the mushrooms into ¼-inch thick, 2-inch pieces. If you cut the mushrooms crosswise, you’ll go against the grain and the pieces will be more tender. If you cut the mushrooms with the grain lengthwise, they will have more of a bite, kind of like a piece of pork belly would.  Mix 3 tablespoons of oil, the liquid smoke, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine and emulsify. Brush the mushrooms with the marinade.  Heat a skillet with enough oil to coat the bottom–a nonstick pan works great here–over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and cook until golden on one side. Flip and brown on the other side. When you flip the mushrooms, add the onions, peppers, and garlic into the pan to brown also.  While that’s happening, finish your scallion salad. Drain the scallions and run them through a salad spinner or pat dry on a kitchen towel. Toss with the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, gochugaru, and sesame s

Vegan Korean BBQ: King Oyster Mushroom “Samgyupsal” Bowls

Samgyupsal, or Korean BBQ pork belly, is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. In my quest to make it easier for me to stick to a plant-based diet more often, I’ve transformed my porky favorite into an entirely vegan experience that does the job! 

You can’t replace pork…but this comes pretty close! 

I’ll be the first one to ardently support a more plant-based diet. 

At the same time, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the flavor and texture of pork is something that can truly be replicated with just vegetables. Pork fat is one of the earth’s treasures that simply bears no equal. 

That said…

This. Gets. PRETTY. CLOSE! 

How? Once again, the versatile and delicious king oyster mushroom is coming to save me from my meat-eating ways!!! We use it in plant-forward dishes like my mom’s Soy Butter King Oyster Mushrooms and Sarah’s Spicy King Oyster Mushroom Stir-fry.

The Magic of Liquid Smoke

The trick to mimicking the taste and texture of pork in this recipe is twofold. The first is liquid smoke. This is a wonderful ingredient to have in your vegan / plant-based arsenal, as it gives you that satisfyingly smoky flavor that often accompanies grilled meats. 

It’s a little trick on your brain, and a little goes a really long way. Slip some into the mushroom marinade, and use sesame oil, sugar, and salt to boost the umami even more. 

The result? It tastes like the pan-fried mushrooms were mingling with a little bit of pork belly over a Korean BBQ charcoal grill. 

Mimicking Textures

The second trick is cutting the mushrooms lengthwise with the grain. If you cut the mushrooms with the grain lengthwise, they will have more of a bite, kind of like a piece of pork belly with skin on it would. 

But you can also opt to cut the mushrooms crosswise, against the grain, to get more tender results. It’s up to you! I personally love the little bit of trickery that comes with cutting the mushrooms lengthwise. 

If you like, you can cut the mushrooms using a pair of scissors before you dig in, much like they cut the meat at Korean BBQ restaurants:

Vegan Korean BBQ with Oyster Mushrooms

Luckily, Korean BBQ Has Plant-based Elements Already 

The ssamjang, or spicy bean paste, is the savior of the plant-based Korean BBQ experience. This is what is typically served with samgyupsal, and it really completes the whole experience and helps you to not miss the meat. 

Ssamjang is a mix of gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) and doenjang (fermented soybean paste) with a few other seasonings thrown in—Korean food blog Maangchi has a great ssamjang recipe—but I just buy the premade one in the bright green tub. 

The other hero of this plant-based Korean BBQ experience is kimchi. If keeping strictly vegan, be sure to find a vegetarian kimchi that is devoid of seafood. 

A bodega near my apartment is owned by a friendly Korean family, and they sell homemade kimchi—one that is vegan, and one that isn’t. We love both! If you’re not too strict about eating vegan, you can go ahead and use any kimchi that you enjoy. 

I also put together a quick scallion salad to go with my grilled mushrooms, a type of banchan (small side dish) you might find at a Korean restaurant. 

When you mix everything together with the mushrooms, a handful of grilled onions, long hot green chilies, and garlic, park yourself with a big metal spoon and watch it disappear. 

Sliced onions, peppers, king oyster mushrooms, and garlic cloves

Tip!

Korean BBQ is supposed to be a relaxed and very customizable eating experience, so use this recipe as a guide, particularly when it comes to what additional veggies to grill and what other banchan you can serve in addition to what I’ve described below.

Recipe Instructions

First get your rice started, either in a rice cooker or on the stovetop. 

Next, start the pajeori scallion salad. Cut the scallions into 2-inch lengths and julienne them very thinly. Transfer the scallions to a bowl of ice water as you cut them. This will help them curl nicely and also take some of the edge off the scallion flavor. When all the scallions are cut, set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. 

julienned scallions in ice water

Slice the mushrooms into ¼-inch thick, 2-inch pieces. If you cut the mushrooms crosswise, you’ll go against the grain and the pieces will be more tender. If you cut the mushrooms with the grain lengthwise, they will have more of a bite, kind of like a piece of pork belly would. 

Mix 3 tablespoons of oil, the liquid smoke, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine and emulsify. Brush the mushrooms with the marinade. 

Heat a skillet with enough oil to coat the bottom–a nonstick pan works great here–over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and cook until golden on one side.

Frying sliced king oyster mushrooms in nonstick pan

Flip and brown on the other side.

Browned king oyster mushroom slices in pan

When you flip the mushrooms, add the onions, peppers, and garlic into the pan to brown also. 

Long hot peppers, onions, and garlic in pan with mushrooms

While that’s happening, finish your scallion salad. Drain the scallions and run them through a salad spinner or pat dry on a kitchen towel. Toss with the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, gochugaru, and sesame seeds until well combined. 

Korean scallion sallad

When everything’s cooked to your liking, assemble your vegan Korean BBQ bowl. Add a base of rice to the bowl, a handful or two of lettuce, the mushrooms and veggies, kimchi, and a scoop of ssamjang paste. Top with the pajeori scallion salad to taste.

Vegan Korean BBQ Bowl with King Oyster Mushrooms

Mix everything together like you would with a bibimbap and enjoy! 

Digging into Vegan Korean BBQ bowl

Vegan Korean BBQ Bowls

Check out this vegan Korean BBQ recipe adapted to resemble Samgyupsal, or Korean BBQ pork belly, using meaty king oyster mushrooms.

Vegan Korean BBQ Samgyupsal Bowl

serves: 2

Ingredients

For the bowls:

For the pajeori (scallion salad):

Instructions

  • First get your rice started, either in a rice cooker or on the stovetop.

  • Next, start the pajeori scallion salad. Cut the scallions into 2-inch lengths and julienne them very thinly. Transfer the scallions to a bowl of ice water as you cut them. This will help them curl nicely and also take some of the edge off the scallion flavor. When all the scallions are cut, set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

  • Slice the mushrooms into ¼-inch thick, 2-inch pieces. If you cut the mushrooms crosswise, you’ll go against the grain and the pieces will be more tender. If you cut the mushrooms with the grain lengthwise, they will have more of a bite, kind of like a piece of pork belly would.

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of oil, the liquid smoke, sesame oil, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine and emulsify. Brush the mushrooms with the marinade.

  • Heat a skillet or nonstick pan with enough oil to coat the bottom over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and cook until golden on one side. Flip and brown on the other side. When you flip the mushrooms, add the onions, peppers, and garlic into the pan to brown also.

  • While that’s happening, finish your scallion salad. Drain the scallions and run them through a salad spinner or pat dry on a kitchen towel. Toss with the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, gochugaru, and sesame seeds until well combined.

  • When everything’s cooked to your liking, assemble your vegan Korean BBQ bowl. Add a base of rice to the bowl, a handful or two of lettuce, the mushrooms and veggies, kimchi, and a scoop of ssamjang paste. Top with the pajeori scallion salad to taste. Mix everything together like you would with a bibimbap and enjoy!

Tips & Notes:

Nutrition information includes scallion salad. 

nutrition facts

Calories: 470kcal (24%) Carbohydrates: 79g (26%) Protein: 10g (20%) Fat: 14g (22%) Saturated Fat: 7g (35%) Sodium: 969mg (40%) Potassium: 461mg (13%) Fiber: 8g (32%) Sugar: 9g (10%) Vitamin A: 2334IU (47%) Vitamin C: 21mg (25%) Calcium: 138mg (14%) Iron: 3mg (17%)