Korean Noodle Stirfry

by on March 7, 2008
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I’m always saying that I love Korean food, but when I stop to think about it, what I really love is certain flavors of Korean food: kim chee, Korean barbecue sauce, and gochujang, the hot pepper paste that Koreans consider one of their three essential condiments. I’m sure there’s more to love about Korean food, but because I’m a vegan, I’ve never tasted most of it. Korean restaurants in the US have menus that center around meat and fish dishes, and whenever I’ve eaten at one, I’ve had to ask that dishes be prepared vegetarian. Fortunately, the chefs have been very accommodating, letting me know which meals can and can’t be prepared vegan, but a lot of the food is off-limits.

Since I now live in a state with no Korean restaurants at all, when I’m craving Korean food, I have to make it myself. Bi bim bab is one of my family’s favorite dishes, but making it the way we like it takes a lot of time: 4 or 5 separate dishes must be prepared, as well as rice and a sauce made of gochujang. It’s a lot to go through when what you really love most is the spicy-sweet-sour, unique, taste of gochujang. So to satisfy my cravings for that flavor, I’ve started using gochujang in other, non-traditional, dishes, such as this quick noodle stir-fry for two.

Korean Noodle Stirfry

About the Ingredients

You can find gochujang (which is also spelled kochuchang and gochuchang) at Asian grocery stores that sell Korean products. If you can’t find it yourself, be sure to ask. Sometimes it’s even better to bring in an empty package or a photo:

Gochujang

It comes in jars or tubs that are often labeled “Hot Pepper Paste.” Unlike other “chili pastes” that you may find, it’s a thick paste with the consistency of miso and a uniform color of dark red. Once opened, it will keep in the refrigerator for a very long time.

You can use any noodles you like for this recipe, but I like buckwheat soba:

Buckwheat Soba

One bundle of noodles is enough for two servings. I like to break them in half for this dish; otherwise, it’s hard to distribute the vegetables throughout the pasta.

I hope you’ll look for gochujang the next time you’re out shopping. If you like spicy food, you really owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Other Vegan Korean Recipes:

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Siddhi Sheth September 1, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Hello Susan,

This website is amazing. I am so excited about your Korean noodle stir-fry recipe. I am making it tommorrow with my friend and will be posting the results on my blog (siddhivegcook.blogspot.com).

-Siddhi

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2 Hyosun Ro January 26, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Wow, your noodle recipe looks really good. I am a Korean-American mom of two grown-up children, and have recently started a food blog to post the recipes for Korean food that I have been cooking all my adult life. It all started with my kids who are now away from home wanting to cook Korean food that they grew up with. Many of their friends are also big fans of Korean food and my blog, and some of them are interested in vegan or vegetarian dishes. So I am trying to consider such options in my recipes. Recently I posted a Japchae recipe that are a vegetarian dish you might like to check out. If you try, I would love to hear your feedback. Here it is: http://eatingandliving.blogspot.com

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3 VEG-DELI January 28, 2010 at 7:05 am

I always would like to cook Vegetarian Korean dishes without garlic, onion, onion springs and shallots. It's not easy to find though. I visited a few Korean Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants in a few states in South Korea. There were a few restaurants which I enjoyed my meal there. I did try the Japchae at one of the restaurants too.. They really taste great.

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4 Katie March 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Mmmm!! Looks delicious!! I will try making this. Japchae is another dish that can be done vegan very easily. The flavours are very similar to what you’ve done here.

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5 Dan March 7, 2014 at 9:30 am

Susan, Thanks for posting this recipe. I am not a fan of the gochujang, can I just omit it? Or, if you can think of a substitute, please advise. Not a spicy food fan, but all the rest looks terrific! Thanks!

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6 Susan Voisin March 7, 2014 at 9:56 am

Hi Dan, you can omit it completely if you don’t like spicy food or substitute it with some sauce that you do like. Feel free to adapt it to your tastes.

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7 Annette Greene March 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

I eat a lot of Asian food and also try to eat gluten-free as much as possible. I was surprised to learn recently that, although buckwheat flour has no gluten, many brands of buckwheat noodles (but not all) are made with a combination wheat flour and buckwheat flour. You need to read the labels carefully. Thanks for the stir-fry recipe, Susan. It looks delicious!

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