Vegetarian cheese buldak – vegan option

This was adapted from Maangchi’s recipe on YouTube for tradition korean cheese buldak – firey chicken topped with cheese. We made it twice in the last two days with our chosen chicken substitute and it is delicious! Spicy, flavoursome, savoury with a little hint of sweet, a little crunchy from the veggies, soft and juicy from the “chicken” and covered in cheese- what’s not to like? Sometimes fake meat recipe substitutions fail because the flavour is off, in this it was perfect because all the punchy pepper and strong flavour takes over and all you really need from the substitute is its texture.

I’ve made a couple of changes to her recipe – first I added some fresh (unfermented) kimchi because, hey, why not? (also made to her “easy kimchi” recipe but made vegan and lower carb by using soy sauce instead of fish sauce and pureed pear instead of rice flour slurry), and I didn’t have any korean hot pepper flakes or paste in the house so I substituted with a mix of hot and smoked Paprika, and a few crushed chili flakes and some other stuff, to mimic the smoky-hot-sweet flavour.  If you want to make this vegan just use a vegan cheese on top instead (she used mozzarella so something like that, we used feta because we had it in the house and my other half has a thing for it).

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Ingredients – serves 2 generously, 3 moderately

1 med/ large onion, diced
Sunflower oil to fry – 2tbsp
500g chicken substitute of choice – we used quorn chicken style pieces (nb ours contains egg)
1 cup vegetarian kimchi (you can leave this out if you want)
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp pomegranate molases (optional)
1 tsp each smoked & hot paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes, or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder (more if you like garlic)
1/4 tsp ginger powder (or less to taste)
4 tbsp Sundried tomato paste
2 tbsp toasted (dark) sesame oil
4-6 tbsp crispy onion pieces, optional
400g cheese of choice to top – we used 200g feta because that’s all we had about

1. Fry the onion in a little oil in a large, heavy frying pan until starting to brown
2. Add the “chicken”, kimchi if using, and fry for a couple of minutes
3. Mix all the other ingredients apart from cheese into a paste, then add to the pan with about 1.5 cups water, stirring very well
4. Stir, cover and simmer for about 12 min or until “chicken” is done – don’t let it boil too dry and burn though. It should have a thick juicy sauce. In the meantime preheat the grill /broiler to high
5. Top with cheese and a little more water if the sauce is too dry (the grill will dry it more) – just a couple of tablespoons – then grill until cheese is toasty and soft. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

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