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.
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.