Easy-to-make vegan eggplant rolls! Great as an appetizer.
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 great additions 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!
Eggplant Rolls (Gaji Mari)
- 2 Asian eggplants long and thick - see note
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of perilla or sesame oil or olive oil
- salt and pepper
Filling option 1
- 1 package of alfalfa sprouts or any sprouts
- 3 ounces of red cabbage thinly sliced
Filling option 2
- 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
Hot mustard sauce
- 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
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Korean plum extract or apple juice
Yoo Mi Hahn says
This dish would be a great addition to my Korean Christmas buffet. I was wondering if I could make it a few hours ahead of time and store it in the fridge?
Please let me know if these are still good if you make it ahead of time. Thank you!
yes they should be fine. It will be a beautiful and healthy addition to your Christmas table.
J C says
It’s true, this dish is too pretty to eat! But it was very labor intensive. I knew the peppers would be too crunchy when used raw so I flash steamed them. I also added carrots (also slightly steamed to take the raw crunchyness away). A good substitute if you don’t have anything “orange” in color.
My issue was with the eggplant slices. I think I will use slightly shorter (maybe about 9-10 inches instead of 12 inch or longer eggplant). Thicker eggplant would also yield more strips. There were also several “thin, shorter” strips left over from the ends that I was unable to use.
I ended up using way more than 2 tablespoons of oil as I was cooking the eggplant slices because with no oil, they would start to burn rather than “cook.” I had to use paper towel to soak up some of the oil. This did give me the idea to “steam” the eggplant slices next time instead of pan cooking them to reduce the unnecessary calories to my dish. Incidentally, I wonder if the “monks” used oil to cook the slices or this a modern version of the original dish?
Thank you for posting this recipe. While it was labor intensive to chop and cook the eggplant slices, my 10 and 15 year olds had fun rolling their own dinner! It reminded them of making their own “gimbab.” We made this as a main dish.
Now that I’ve discovered your website, I will explore other recipes to try!
Hi Hyosun, recently I saw a talk on YouTube given by Ven. Dae Ahn and was impressed by her creations. I had been intrigued by korean temple cooking and was happy to find a related recipe! Thanks for sharing this recipe – your recipe was amazing when I made it tonight – the mustard dressing was tangy and light (added a bit of maple syrup instead as I had no pear or maesil jung on hand)! I was wondering if that book (12 months of temple meals) was available in English? I’ve been searching for that book but no one seems to sell it? If you could maybe recommend where to search for it, it will be greatly appreciated!
Thank you, SC, for trying out the recipe! I don’t think the book is available in English. Sorry I couldn’t help you there.
Holly | Beyond Kimchee says
Oh, my! I agree, they are too pretty to eat!
Love the color combination in the rolls. They are mega healthy appetizer, too.