Korean dishes, some traditional and some reimagined, from the home cook and storyteller behind @thekoreanvegan on TikTok
The single most frequent question Joanne Lee Molinaro gets asked is “How can you be vegan and Korean?” Korean cooking is, after all, synonymous with fish sauce and barbecue. And although grilled meat is indeed prevalent in some Korean food, the ingredients that filled out the bapsangs of Joanne’s childhood—doenjang (fermented soybean paste), gochujang (chili sauce), dashima (seaweed), and more—are fully plant-based, unbelievably flavorful, and totally Korean.
In her debut cookbook, Joanne shares recipes and narrative snapshots of the food that shaped her family history. Some of the recipes come straight from her childhood: Jjajangmyun, the rich Korean-Chinese black bean noodles she ate on birthdays, or the humble Gamja Guk, a potato-and-leek soup her father makes. Some pay homage: Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake is an ode to the two foods that saved her mother’s life, Kale & Ramen Salad with noodle “croutons” and a dressing akin to ramen broth.
With the intimate storytelling and stunning photography she’s become known for on social media, The Korean Vegan Cookbook celebrates how deeply food and family shape our identity.
About the Author
Joanne Lee Molinaro is a Korean American trial lawyer, born and raised in Chicago. Molinaro adopted a plant-based diet in January 2016 and began The Korean Vegan as a passion project later that year. Her immensely popular TikTok, @thekoreanvegan, incorporates her recipes with personal narration. She has been featured in Salon, Healthyish by Bon Appétit, The Atlantic, The Kitchn, Thrive, and VegWorld, and on Food Network, CNN, BBC, and CNBC.
"All of Joanne Lee Molinaro's work reminds us that the best part of any recipe is the story behind it. In her debut cookbook, she shares not only so many wonderful vegan Korean dishes (I want to cook so many things!), she also shares herself and her family with us. We are better for it."
- Julia Turshen, Bestselling Cookbook Author of Simply Julia, Host of Keep Calm & Cook On, and Founder of Equity at The Table
When you crack open The Korean Vegan Cookbook, you won't just want to make every one of Joanne's mouthwatering recipes (and you will!), you'll want to devour her writing, too. Between her creative, plant-based takes on noodles, banchan, bagels, and more, she shares stories of her family that will move you to laughter and tears by turns.
--Jeanine Donofrio, author of The Love and Lemons Cookbook
"Come for the veganized Korean recipes that will inspire you in the kitchen and delight your tastebuds (the Tteokbokki and Kkanpoong Tofu will change your life). Stay for Joanne’s poetic stories about family and culture that will move you to tears."
--Nisha Vora, creator of Rainbow Plant Life and author of The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook
"Stunningly beautiful in every way. This book will make you fall in love with the author, her culture, her family and Korean cuisine instantly. I couldn’t recommend it more."
--Kim-Julie Hansen, founder of Best of Vegan and author of Vegan Reset