Joanne Lee Molinaro has captivated millions of fans with her powerfully moving personal tales of love, family, and food. In her debut cookbook, she shares a collection of her favorite Korean dishes, some traditional and some reimagined, as well as poignant narrative snapshots that have shaped her family history.
As Joanne reveals, she’s often asked, “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 bapsangs on Joanne’s table growing up—doenjang (fermented soybean paste), gochujang (chili sauce), dashima (seaweed), and more—are fully plant-based, unbelievably flavorful, and totally Korean. 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 after she fled North Korea.
The Korean Vegan Cookbook is a rich portrait of the immigrant experience with life lessons that are universal. It celebrates how deeply food and the ones we love 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, The Korean Vegan, 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.
“[Joanne is] an expert in veganizing dishes, especially Korean food, and a soothing storyteller….Over the course of exactly 60 seconds, Molinaro somehow makes you want to laugh, cry, march in the streets and devour every damn thing on her plate.” – The Washington Post
“With these stories, it becomes clear that every dish is deeply personal to Molinaro, and by presenting the recipes here, she does more than offer up delicious food — she invites the reader to honor one immigrant family’s story.” – Eater
“You don’t have to be vegan to consume Joanne Molinaro’s cooking videos. Although you might come for the food, you’ll leave with life lessons on love, grief, and growing up Korean. If you grew up in an immigrant household or ever felt like you weren’t enough, then Molinaro’s stories may resonate with you.” – Self
“Joanne Lee Molinaro gained fame as @thekoreanvegan on TikTok, and her debut cookbook is a welcome addition to our shelves. Come for the savory soups and stews, stay for the mushroom galbi and gochujang-glazed persimmon upside-down cake.” – Epicurious
“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
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