This vegan Korean Broccoli Salad is an incredibly easy recipe that comes together in just 15 minutes. Tender-yet-crisp steamed broccoli is tossed in a savory and spicy sauce, then garnished with sesame seeds. Serve it as a vibrant side dish, healthy appetizer, or light snack.
🥦 What Is Korean Broccoli Salad?
Korean Broccoli Salad, also known as “Korean broccoli banchan,” is a light side dish popular in Korean cuisine. It’s made with bright green broccoli florets that are boiled and tossed in a mouthwatering blend of traditional Asian spices and seasonings. In this recipe, I use toasty sesame oil, umami-rich soy sauce, zesty garlic, and spicy Korean chili flakes.
The broccoli turns out tender with just the right amount of crunch. Plus, you can expect even more texture from the addition of sesame seeds. It’s typically served at Korean restaurants as a banchan (side dish), but you can easily serve it as a vegan snack or appetizer.
You’ll love how simple this healthy Asian broccoli salad is easy to prepare, and you can easily adjust the flavors to suit your personal taste. For more mouthwatering Korean side dishes and snacks, try Bibimmyeon (Korean Cold Spicy Noodles), Korean Popcorn Chicken, or Jumeokbap (Korean Rice Balls).
Why You'll Love It
- Simple: Just steam the broccoli, mix together a 5-ingredient sauce, and toss them together. This recipe couldn’t be more straightforward to prepare!
- Quick: Have it on your plate and ready to eat in 15 minutes or less. This salad comes in handy whenever you need a last-minute side dish.
- Tasty: You won’t be able to stop eating after your first bite of Korean sesame broccoli! Even if your family isn't a huge fan of broccoli, the tantalizing sauce will have them begging for it every night of the week.
- Broccoli florets: Use broccoli florets in a microwavable bag for more convenience. Typically, you will just need to cut a corner and microwave in 1-minute intervals. I prefer my steamed broccoli slightly crunchy, so I only cook it for 2 minutes in total.
- Garlic: Adds zesty, punchy, and savory flavors. Use whole garlic heads, and mince the cloves yourself for the most intense flavors.
- Sesame oil: The sesame oil brand matters in terms of the overall quality of flavor. I recommend 100% pure sesame oil, and use a Korean brand (like Jin or Ottogi) if possible!
- Soy sauce: Imparts a deep, umami-rich flavor that compliments the broccoli. I always recommend low-sodium soy sauce, which gives you better control of the saltiness.
- Gochugaru (고추가루): Just like in my Tteokkochi recipe, I add gochugaru (aka Korean chili flakes). This spice adds mild-to-moderate heat and a hint of sweetness without overpowering the other flavors. Look for gochugaru in the international aisle of large grocery stores, at Asian food markets, or online.
- Sesame seeds: Provide a toasty, nutty, and slightly sweet element. Use black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, or a mixture of both! Just don’t forget to save some for the garnish.
Substitutions & Variations
- If you don’t have a microwavable bag of broccoli, cook the florets in a pot with a steamer basket on the stovetop for 3-5 minutes. You can also blanch the broccoli by submerging the florets in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
- Feel free to add more vegetables like sliced yellow or red onion, matchstick carrots, peppers, or green onion.
- For a gluten-free Korean Broccoli Salad, replace the soy sauce with tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos.
- Increase or decrease the gochugaru based on your heat tolerance. For more spice, add some red pepper flakes.
- Up the protein content by adding tofu, tempeh, or a side of chicken.
👩🏻🍳 How To Make Korean Broccoli Salad
STEP ONE: First, cook the broccoli. I like to purchase broccoli florets in a microwavable bag because it's quick and convenient. Cut a corner to vent and then microwave for about 2 minutes for a tender yet lightly crispy texture, or 3 minutes for fully cooked broccoli. Make sure to follow package instructions.
Alternatively, steam broccoli for 3-5 minutes or blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. The broccoli is done when it's turned bright green and still has a little resistance when pierced with a fork.
STEP TWO: Fill a large bowl with ice water. Immediately transfer cooked broccoli to ice bath to shock for 1-2 minutes. Then drain and pat as dry as possible.
STEP THREE: Next, making the dressing. In a large bow, whisk together garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, gochugaru, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Season to taste.
STEP FOUR: Add the dry broccoli and mix together. Serve immediately or let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.
💭 Top Tips
- Ice bath: Immediately submerge the broccoli in an ice bath to preserve the bright green color and stop the cooking process.
- Pat dry: It’s important to pat the broccoli florets dry with a paper towel before mixing them with the dressing. This really helps the dressing stick to the broccoli.
- Toss well: Toss the broccoli thoroughly in the sauce so reaches every nook and cranny. Otherwise, the dressing will soak into the florets more than the stems and be unevenly seasoned.
- Season accordingly: If you’re serving this recipe cold, I suggest adding a touch more salt. I find cold food becomes less seasoned, but just have a taste before adding more.
- Serving: Serve your broccoli sesame salad warm, room temperature, or cold. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more the flavors develop.
What To Serve With Asian Broccoli Salad
My favorite part about this marinated broccoli salad is how versatile it is. Along with Korean Broccoli Salad, some more popular banchan side dishes are cabbage kimchi, blanched spinach, and seasoned soybean sprouts.
This broccoli side dish is also a great accompaniment to traditional Korean dishes like:
- Beef Bulgogi Mandu (Korean Beef Dumplings)
- Janchi Guksu (Korean Banquet Noodles)
- Bulgogi Udon
- Dduk Mandu Guk (Korean Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup)
- Gochujang Salmon
🥡 Storing & Freezing
Storing: You can store this steamed broccoli salad in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. I recommend eating it within the first day or two for the best flavor and freshness.
Freezing: I don’t suggest freezing Korean broccoli salad since the taste and texture will change significantly once it’s thawed.
Reheating: You can enjoy Korean Broccoli Salad straight from the refrigerator. But to warm your broccoli sesame salad, transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a lid. Heat the broccoli for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through.
Make Ahead: Make Ahead: The salad can be made 1-2 days ahead of time, which helps develop the flavors.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Steaming Korean-style broccoli is a quick and easy way to cook this vegetable. It keeps the flavor fresh while preserving the bright green color. Boiled broccoli often turns out soggy, but steamed broccoli maintains some crunch.
Yes, you can make Korean broccoli gluten-free by swapping the soy sauce for gluten-free soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos.
If your broccoli is soggy, you likely steamed it for too long or didn’t transfer it to the ice bath soon enough. It will still taste good, but the texture may be quite soft.
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Korean Broccoli Salad
- Follow package instructions to microwave broccoli until bright green and lightly crunchy (tender and fork meets little resistance when pierced, but not all the way cooked). Transfer to an ice bath for 1-2 minutes, then drain and pat as dry as possible.
- In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, gochugaru, sesame seeds, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Add broccoli and toss thoroughly to combine. Season to taste and option to garnish with more sesame seeds. Serve room temperature or chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes to serve cold.
- If you don’t have a microwavable bag of broccoli, steam broccoli for 3-5 minutes on the stovetop. You can also blanch the broccoli by submerging the florets in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
- Toss the broccoli thoroughly in the dressing so reaches every nook and cranny. Otherwise, the dressing will soak into the florets more than the stems and be unevenly seasoned.
- I prefer Korean Broccoli Salad cold. As it sits in the fridge, the flavors marinate and become more delicious.
- Storing: You can store this steamed broccoli salad in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.