Continuing with the healthy Korean temple food theme, I am excited to share these gorgeous, easy-to-make, vegan eggplant rolls. In Korean, these rolls are called gaji mari (가지말이). Gaji is eggplant, and mari refers to rolled up dishes. The inspiration came from a recipe I found in a cookbook I recently purchased. The book, titled “12 Months of Temple Meals”, is authored by a Buddhist nun, Venerable Dae Ahn (대안스님), who is one of the masters of Korean temple cuisine.
The recipe in the book is very simple yet elegant! The thinly sliced eggplants are briefly cooked in a skillet, rolled up with sprouts, and served with a hot mustard sauce. I used alfalfa sprouts and added some thinly sliced red cabbage for color and crunch. I also made a soy-based sauce to provide another sauce option.
For the fillings, I played around with different vegetables such as colorful fresh bell peppers and enoki mushrooms. They turned out great! Carrots and cucumbers will be a great addition as well.
Any long variety eggplants are fine for this recipe. Eggplants cook down significantly, so make sure they are not too slender. I used two beautiful eggplants I bought from the farmers’ market last weekend. It was perfect for these roll ups!
The problem with these rolls? They were too pretty to eat!
All the tableware shown in the final photos of this post are sponsored by Huue Craft, an online store dedicated to the finest Korean pottery tableware. They ship worldwide to over 25 countries. Visit Huue Craft online store for the beautiful tableware created by five of the renowned potters in Korea!
- 2 Asian eggplants (long and thick) - see note
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of perilla or sesame oil (or olive oil)
- salt and pepper
- 1 package of alfalfa sprouts (or any sprouts)
- 3 ounces of red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 red bell pepper
- 1/4 orange bell pepper
- 1/4 yellow bell pepper
- 1/4 green bell pepper
- 1 package of enoki mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons Korean hot mustard (yeon gyeoja, 연겨자) or dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rice syrup (or sugar)
- 2 tablespoon juice from grated pear (or apple juice) or 1 tablespoon Korean plum syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Korean plum extract (or apple juice)
- Prepare the filling vegetables by thinly slicing.
- Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise by running a peeler through the eggplant while pressing it down as hard as you can. Putting pressure on the peeler will help with cutting even slices that are as thick as possible with a peeler. You can also use a mandoline to slice the eggplant.
- Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer, lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook briefly over medium heat, 1 or 2 minutes per each side. Transfer to a plate.
- Lay an eggplant slice on a flat surface. Place assorted vegetables on top at one end of the eggplant slice and roll up all the way. Repeat until all eggplant slices are used up.
- You can get 8 to 10 thin slices from one eggplant, which will be enough for 2 people as a side dish.