Inspired by Korean barbecue, these vegan tacos are filled with juicy, charred marinated portobello mushrooms, red peppers, spicy Gochujang Crema, super quick Asian pear salsa and all the fresh fixins! Despite all the amazing flavors, this meal comes together quickly and can even be started the day before.
If you aren’t familiar with Korean barbecue, or Bulgogi, it’s a dish normally based on beef. As it turns out, what makes the dish so delicious is what the beef is cooked with! Think sesame, garlic, a bit of heat, ginger…so good! Swap out the beef for meaty portobello mushrooms and we have ourselves delicious vegan Bulgogi!
From what I’ve read, traditional Bulgogi is normally cooked with some grated Asian pear. Asian pear is a bit like a cross between a really crisp apple and a pear. Most Asian markets carry it. For this recipe, I chose to incorporate the Asian pear into a really simple salsa instead of cooking it in with the portbellos. Its crisp, cool texture is so nice over the spicy portobellos!
One of the key ingredients in this recipe is Gochujang. Gochujang is Korean red pepper paste. It’s spicy, but not over the top. For reference, my little kids ate this meal without compliant, although I didn’t serve theirs with the Gochujang Crema. The heat from the portobello filling is not overwhelming.
An Easy Weeknight Meal
While there are a few components to this meal, everything comes together pretty easily and quickly. The most time consuming part is waiting for the portobellos to marinate. They need about 30 minutes but you can place them in the fridge and leave them overnight for a really quick meal the next day.
While the mushrooms marinate, we whisk together the Gochujang Crema, toss the salsa together, and then prep the lettuce and avocado. Once the portobellos are ready, you can heat the tortillas while the mushrooms and peppers cook. From there it’s time to assemble our tacos…and EAT!
Tips for Perfect Korean Mushroom Tacos:
- marinate and cook the portobellos whole, and then slice them. If you slice them first, they will absorb too much marinade and be very salty. They are also harder to grill sliced without becoming dry and hard.
- these tacos are probably tasty without the Gochujang, but it’s what gives them more of a Korean twist. You can find this Korean red pepper paste in most Asian grocery stores as well as online.
- the Jalapeno pepper in the salsa is optional. If you like things spicy, add it, but if you prefer a meal with medium heat, you may wish to leave it out. The veggies and the crema both have some heat already.
- to get pretty char marks on the tortillas (if you have a gas range), lightly dampen a towel and set on a plate. Place each tortilla directly over open flame for a few seconds until you have some char. Flip with tongs and repeat. Stack the heated tortillas between the folds of the damp towel so they stay warm and don’t dry out.
Korean Portobello Tacos
For the Marinade:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
- 2 red bell peppers, cut in half, seeds and stem removed
For the Asian Pear Salsa:
- 2 medium Asian pears, diced (skin on or off) (or 1 large)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1 Jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely diced, optional
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp Gochujang
- 8-10 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- toasted sesame seeds, avocado slices, cilantro and lime wedges for serving
- In small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the marinade. Once the sugar has dissolved, pour the marinade into a shallow baking sheet or plastic bag. Add the mushrooms, turning to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes up to overnight in the fridge, turning occasionally.
- While the mushrooms marinate, whisk together the ingredients for the Crema in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the salsa together.
- Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade (keep the marinade) and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until lightly charred on both sides. Slice each mushroom into 5-6 strips. Set aside. Grill the peppers about 1-2 minutes per side, brushing with the remaining marinade. Slice each pepper half into 5-6 strips.
- Spread the Kochujang Crema on each warmed tortilla, shredded lettuce, and a few strips of portobello and red pepper. Top with the Asian pear salsa, slices of avocado, sesame seeds, green onions and more cilantro, if desired.