Category Archives: Side dishes

Sweet Kabocha Squash Salad (단호박 샐러드 Danhobak Salad)

Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad

Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad

Danhobak(단호박)/Kabocha Squash and Goguma (고구마)/Sweet potato are probably some of the most popular ingredient in Korea these days. I say that because I see these two ingredients everywhere – actually to the point where I am tired of seeing them as the ‘featured’ ingredient in a dish. One of the things that bothers me the most is how Koreans add sweet potato to pizza. Mashed sweet potato is used to either top the pizza or to fill the crust with. I just can’t imagine that tasting good – I mean adding a pasty, sweet substance on top of pizza?? I guess I will have to give it a try someday just to prove myself right but for now, I will pass. :)

So, when I first encountered Danhobak Salad at our local restaurant, I was not sure I was going to like it. But surprisingly this was good. So I had to try making it. Before we go on, a little history behind it:

Kabocha Squash or Danhobak (단호박) is a relatively new vegetable in the Korean kitchen. This squash only appeared in Korea about 20 years ago in the 90’s. Before then, there were only green zucchini type squashes and giant pumpkins (늙은 호박 neulgeun hobak). The giant pumpkins are exactly the same as Halloween pumpkins in the US. Except, in Korea, the giant pumpkins are left in the field longer into fall, until they are fully aged (Neulgeun means ‘aged’). At which point the pumpkins become pale orange and rock hard.

These aged pumpkins (늙은 호박 neulgeun hobak) were traditionally used to make porridge (죽 jook), rice cakes (떡 tteok) and kimchi.  In addition to seaweed soup (미역국 meeyoek guk), pumpkin porridge (호박죽 hobak jook) is a must eat food to new mothers because it helps with fluid retention after childbirth. Problem with 늙은 호박 though, is that it’s just way too big for today’s smaller family. And the very hard skin makes cutting really difficult. For those reasons,  the smaller Kabocha squash is perfect because it has similar nutritional benefits but is much easier to handle and smaller in size.

NUTRITION: Danhobak is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and low in calories. The high beta-carotene content makes it a great food for the eyes. But in Korea, everyone knows that it has been used for generations to help with postpartum edema or fluid retention and also considered a great healing food for colds.

 

Servings: 5                  Cooking Time: 20 min                       Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (455 g) Korean Danhobak (단호박) aka Kabocha Squash
  • 2~3 T mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T dried raisins
  • 1 T pumpkin seeds
  • 1~2 tsp honey
  • 1 ~ 1 1/4 tsp dijon mustard

Directions

  1. For a good size danhobak, half weighs about 1 lb. Clean and cut squash into slices:
    Cut half of Korean Danhobak(단호박) or Kabocha Squash

    Cut half of Korean Danhobak(단호박) or Kabocha Squash

    Remove the seeds with a spoon:

    Remove seeds from Danhobak/Squash

    Remove seeds from Danhobak/Squash

    Cut squash into about 1.5 inch thick slices for quicker cooking.

    Cut 1/2 squash into smaller slices for steaming

    Cut 1/2 squash into smaller slices for steaming

  2. Steam the squash slices for 15 min or so until the thickest parts are easily pierced with a fork.

    Squash slices in steamer

    Squash slices in steamer

  3. Cut the green skin off the cooked squash. Cut squash into smaller pieces and put in a bowl. Mash squash like making mashed potato. I didn’t have a potato masher so I just used a whisk. Don’t kill yourself trying to mash it completely – leave some small chunks to give the salad more texture.

    Mashing cooked squash for salad

    Mashing cooked squash for salad

  4. To the mashed squash, add 2T mayonnaise, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt and 1 tsp honey. Mix it all well. Taste and adjust by adding more mayo for creamier taste, more mustard for more zing and more honey if you like things sweet. Finally add raisins and pumpkin seeds.
  5. Serve the salad chilled. The salad goes great with many Korean dishes – especially hot and spicy or meaty dishes. Kids will also love the slightly sweet and creamy salad. Enjoy!

 

Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad

Korean Kabocha Squash (단호박 Danhobak) Salad

 

 

 

Crispy Potato Pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)

Korean potato pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)

Korean potato pancakes (감자전 Gamjajeon)

What do you do when life gives you too many ugly potatoes? You make potato pancakes!

Back in June, in my Life in Korea – Farming Anyone? post, I wrote that I was planting colored potatoes in my farm. Well..we harvested them in late July. And I have been busy selling them the last 2 months. I have already sold most of it but I had a lot of oddly shaped ugly potatoes left -not fit for sale but totally fine for eating. And then an old college friend came up with the idea of making Gamjajeon(감자전) and selling them at our Ewha University Alumni Baazar event. It was a perfect way to get rid of these excess potatoes, to help raise money for school and also for another alumni friend with cancer.

The morning started out with buckets of rain but it got light just enough for students to come out and buy our yummy crispy potato pancakes – freshly made on the spot. People said that the piping hot pancakes were a perfect thing to have on a rainy, cool day. It was such a success that we were making these non stop with people constantly waiting. It was actually a bit stressful because we couldn’t make them fast enough but we had a blast making them! Even though I have not seen some friends for 20+ years, spending the day together made it as if I had never left.

Now back to gamjajeon -the most delicious (and actually my first) gamjajeon I had was during our family trip to the Seorak Mountains. It was when I was in high school. My dad, mom, brother and I were hiking up the seorak mountain and on our way, we found these little shacks near mountain streams, wherever they was a flat ledge that was big enough to hold them. Perhaps it was the mountain air, or perhaps it was because I was really hungry but I still can’t forget how good the gamjajeon was. Slightly crispy on the outside and full of potato goodness inside.

I used colored potatoes here but you can simply substitute other potatoes. Best potatoes for Korean potato pancake (gamjajeon) are starchy potatoes like regular russet. You can use waxy potatoes but you probably will need to add more flour to keep it together and may not be as crispy.

 

 

Servings: 4                                Prep Time: 20 min                       Difficulty: Moderate

Cooking Time: 4-5 min for each pancake (recipe makes about 6 six-inch pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb potatoes (starchy) – I used a mix of red and purple potatoes here
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 T flour (adjust based on how wet your potatoes are)
  • vegetable oil for pan frying

Directions

  1. Wash potatoes. Peel if the skin is thick like russet but you can leave the skin on if it’s thin enough.
  2. Cut potatoes into smaller pieces.
    cut colored potatoes for gamjajeon

    cut colored potatoes for gamjajeon (mix of red and purple)

    Originally, Koreans used graters to finely grate the potato but chopper is easier and works just as good.

  3. Cut onions into pieces small enough to fit in the chopper.

    potato and onions in chopper for gamjajeon

    potato and onions in chopper for gamjajeon

  4. Chop onions and potatoes in blender, like so –

    chopped potato in blender for gamjajeon

    chopped potato in blender for gamjajeon

  5. For the following amount of extra potato liquid,
    watery potato and onion mix

    watery potato and onion mix

    I added 3 T of flour. After you add the flour, the consistency should be so that the mix does not run down easily from a spatula.

    gamjajeon (korean potato pancake) mix

    gamjajeon (korean potato pancake) mix

    Add more flour if needed. If the gamjajeon falls apart too easily while cooking.

  6. Heat about 2 T of oil in frying pan on med high heat.
    • Using sufficient amount of oil is key to making a good gamjajeon so don’t skimp on oil. Gamjajeon will also stick easily to the pan if there isn’t enough oil.
    • Heat oil until it swirls around in the pan like water.
  7. Ladle the potato mix onto the hot pan. Spread out evenly to about 1/3 in thickness. One full ladle should make one 6 inch pancake.

    Gamjajeon frying in pan

    Gamjajeon frying in pan

  8. Lower heat to medium and fry for 2 minutes or so. Check doneness by lifting up the side slightly to see how brown it is. When it is THIS brown, turn it over!!

    Gamjajeon browned in pan

    Gamjajeon browned in pan

  9. Fry the other side for another 2 minutes until done.

And there you go~ Serve with some yangnyum jang(양념장) for jeon (see my post for yangnyum jang)  or chokanjang (초간장) and it is a great snack or banchan for kids and adults alike! It is also a great appetizer for Korean rice wine (막걸리 Maakeoli), so go ahead try it!

Variations

  • For more zing, add some chopped green chili peppers to the mix or to the yangnyum jang.
  • The colored potatoes can be eaten raw so I added them on top (as in the picture) as garnish and it was a fabulous combination because it added a crunchy texture.
Crispy Potato Pancakes - Korean Style

Crispy Potato Pancakes – Korean Style

  • DO NOT turn over the pancake prematurely, before it is fully browned – it’s the number one reason why it will fall apart.
  • Loosen the pancake from the pan before you turn over, by loosening it slightly all around and then shaking the pan until the pancake starts sliding around.

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

 

Kongjaban was my all time favorite lunchbox banchan (side dish) when I was a kid. My most happy lunchbox(도시락 doshirak) always included at least 2 of the following: Kongjaban, Sauteed string potatoesJangjorim, Oeji (pickled cucumbers) and  Gim (roasted sea laver). My school day mornings passed by more quickly and happily when I knew I had these in my lunchbox… :)

Usually, kids don’t like beans very much. I certainly remember not liking any kind of beans mixed in my rice when I was little. I never liked the mushy texture of cooked beans and also the fact that it kind of had no flavor. But the balance of sweetness and saltiness (you know that ‘sweet and salty’ is one of my favorite flavor combination, right?) and the not-mushy texture of this Kongjaban made it all different.

If done right, these Sweet and Salty Soybeans (Kongjaban 콩자반) can be so delicious. Sadly, there are too many not-so-good Kongjabans served at restaurants or sold at markets that give this dish a bad name. PLEASE  believe me – that’s not how the dish is supposed to taste. The soybeans are usually too soft and mushy or too hard and the sauce is so bland that it basically tastes like nothing.. Sad sad sad..I bought one or two ready made, packaged Kongjaban and also one from a banchan corner at the Korean market and as I expected, quite flavorless…

Try making these soybeans at home for yourself and see how you like them.

Anyways, let’s get started –

 

 

Servings: 8-10                 Prep Time: 5-6 hrs              Cooking Time: 1 hr                 Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 C soaked  or 3/4 C dry black soy beans (서리태 Seoritae)
  • 3 C or more water
  • 5 T soy sauce (jinkanjang 진간장)
  • 4 T sugar
  • 2 C liquid from soaked beans
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup

Directions

  1. Soak the dry soybeans in 2 C of water 5~6 hrs or overnight. The soaking time can vary depending on the temperature. Warmer temps require less time (3~4 hrs) and colder temps require more (8~12 hrs).
    soaked black soy beans

    soaked black soy beans

    FYI, here’s a close up of dry vs soaked black soy beans:

    dry vs soaked black soy beans

    dry vs soaked black soy beans

  2. Drain the liquid from the soaked soybeans and add to pot with 3 1/2 C of water. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower heat to medium and cook UNCOVERED for approx 12 minutes until the beans are fully cooked. Soybeans should be soft but still slightly crunchy and not mushy.
  3. Drain the cooked soybeans while reserving the cooking liquid.
  4. In a pot, add 2 C of the cooking liquid + soy sauce + sugar and bring to boil over med-high heat.
  5. Add the soybeans to the boiling soy sauce liquid and lower heat once it starts to boil like below. Simmer for 25 min, stirring often. Lower the heat if you find that the liquid is reducing too quickly.

    kongjaban boiling in pot

    kongjaban boiling in pot

  6. Add maple syrup to add shine and additional sweetness. Cook for another 20 min (stir often) or so until the sauce is reduced and the color has turned dark brown like below:
    cooked kongjaban in pot

    finished kongjaban in pot

    And so there you go! It’s pretty simple, no? Let it cool and store in a container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in your fridge for many days. Serve at room temp or can be eaten cold out of the fridge. Enjoy it with some plain rice or as a side dish to go with other spicy dishes. As I said, it makes a great side dish in kid’s lunchboxes!

    Sweet and Salty soy beans

    Korean Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Common Problems and Tips

  • The most frequent problems in making Kongjaban is that the beans come out too hard.
    • This is due mainly for 3 reasons:
    1. beans are not fully soaked
    2. beans are not fully cooked before seasoning is added
    3. beans are cooked in soy sauce+sugar too quickly at high heat
  • Substitute regular white soy beans, mung beans, peanuts instead of black soy beans.
  • For extra flavorful sauce, add one or more of the following: ginger, green onion, dried red chili, whole garlic clove, or onion.

Rice Cake Stir Fry with Soy Sauce (궁중떡볶이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki/Tteokbokki)

royal ddukbokki (궁중떡뽁이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki)

royal ddukbokki (궁중떡볶이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki)

Did you know that this non spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry with Soy Sauce (궁중떡볶이 Goongjoong Ddukbokki/tteokbokki) has been around much longer than the more common red spicy version?  The name Goongjoong/gungjung/Kungjung/Koongjoong means royal court and so you can guess where this dish comes from. The Korean Royal Cuisine (궁중요리 Goongjoong Yori) as we know today are recipes passed down through generations of King’s chefs during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and only became available to everyone after the fall of the dynasty. There are separate cooking schools dedicated to teaching this cuisine but as you can imagine, it’s really not your everyday food..

In contrast, the prevalent story for the very popular spicy rice cake (ddukbokki/tteokbokki) is that it only came to existence in the 1950’s in the 신당동 (shindangdong) part of Seoul. Since then it probably has become the most popular snack for kids-although recently pizza and hamburgers have started to take over. But certainly when I was a student, there was always a ddukbokki house near every school and we just could not go home without taking a ddukbokki break!

Eating ddukbokki after school…it was sooo good but also soooo spicy sometimes. As much as I loved eating the spicy ddukbokki, I often had hard time with hot spicy foods when I was little. As a kid, I used to wash Baechoo Kimchi in water before I ate it. You would think that washing it with water makes it taste like nothing but it actually had plenty of flavor – still a little bit spicy, slightly sour, definitely salty and then that deep, can’t-really-describe-with-words unique taste of Kimchi. Mostly, this is how most Korean kids get used to eating spicy foods at an early age – by just tasting the watered down version first and then you want more..

Because this dish is salty, savory and slightly sweet, it is a great dish that can balance the spiciness of many Korean dishes. Great for dinner parties and also a great snack for kids since you can sneak in some extra veggies if you want.

 

 

Servings: 2                                  Cooking Time: 25 – 30 min                                Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rice cake for ddukboki
  • marinade sauce for rice cake
    • 1 T soy sauce
    • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1/2 lb beef (chuck, sirloin, bottom round) or stew meat, cut into thin strips
  • marinade for beef
  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms (dried or fresh shitake, enoki, king all work well), torn
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 2 green onions or 1/2 Korean leek (대파 Daepa)
  • swirl of honey (optional)
  • swirl of sesame oil (optional)
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. If you have access to fresh rice cake, that’s great. If not, no matter, just defrost frozen rice cakes by soaking in cold water first for 10 min. or more.
  2. Cook rice cakes in boiling water for 2-3 minutes until they are soft all the way through.
  3. Drain. Do not rinse. While it’s still hot, add 1 T soy sauce and 1 T sesame oil. Toss. Set aside.

    marinade dduk in soy sauce and sesame oil

    marinade dduk in soy sauce and sesame oil

  4. Cut beef into thin strips (approx 1/4 in), against the grain. This is probably the most time consuming part of this recipe. EASY TIP: cut bulgogi meat into smaller pieces instead. In Korea, markets sell pre-cut beef strips like so…nice, huh?
    beef cut in strips for Korean cooking

    beef cut in strips for Korean cooking

    • BTW, the label says the beef cut is 설도(seoldoe) which is bottom round or eye of round. It also says it’s 잡채용 (chopchaeyong – for chop chae).
  5. Marinate the beef strips in my apple lemon soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, honey, garlic mixture and let it sit while you prepare other ingredients.
    marinated beef strips for Korean Ddukbokki

    marinated beef strips for Korean Ddukbokki

    • I used my apple lemon soy sauce but you can substitute it for regular soy sauce and more rice wine. See my bulgogi post for the exact recipe. Also note that the amount of sauce is good for 1 lb of beef which is too much if it was just the meat but I wanted this sauce to season the entire dish and thus the extra sauce.
  6. Cut carrot lengthwise and then into thin slices diagonally so that the size is similar to your dduk piece.

    cut vegetables for Goongjoong Ddukbokki

    cut carrots for Goongjoong Ddukbokki

  7. Tear 0yster mushrooms by hand into smaller pieces.
    tearing oyster mushrooms for ddukbokki

    tearing oyster mushrooms for ddukbokki

    Dried shitake mushrooms are probably the most authentic ingredient but these oyster mushrooms were so fresh looking at the market! King or enoki mushrooms will be good too~

  8. Cut  1/2 of a Korean leek first into 2 in long pieces and then quarter them.
    • Korean leeks are pretty big and long (usually longer than 2 ft and some are even longer than 3 ft! see photo below left – this is a pretty big cutting board) but not as big and not as thick as the ones you see in the US. I know Korean leeks are probably hard to get in places outside of Korea so substitute green onions if you can’t get Korean leeks.

      Korean Leek (대파 Daepa)

      Korean Leek (대파 Daepa)

  9. Cut onions into thin slices. And now you should have a plate full of cut vegetables!

    cut vegetables for ddukbokki

    cut vegetables for ddukbokki

  10. Heat a nice big frying pan on med-high heat. Transfer just the beef (set aside any leftover marinade sauce) into the pan and saute the beef strips for 2-3 minutes.
    sauteing beef

    sauteing beef

    leftover beef marinade

    leftover beef marinade – save it for later!

  11. Saute carrots, onions and mushrooms (except for green onions) with the beef, 2-3 min.

    beef and vegetables

    beef and vegetables

  12. Add rice cakes and stir fry for 5-6 minutes until everything is evenly cooked.

    Goongjoong ddukbokki in pan

    Ddukbokki is almost done!

  13. Taste. For kids snacks, keep the seasoning light and do not add the leftover marinade sauce. For side dishes, add some of the remaining beef marinade sauce for additional seasoning.
  14. Add green onions. For final seasoning, swirl in some honey and sesame oil before serving.
  15. Sprinkle some sesame seeds as garnish.

This rice cake stir fry is a great for parties, pot luck and as snack for kids. So enjoy!

Storage

  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several days. Dduk becomes hard once it’s stored in the fridge. Reheat it slowly on medium to med-low heat by adding couple T of water and stirring often. Microwaving will reheat faster but dduk will become really hard once it cools so I don’t really recommend it.

Variations

  • Add regular or napa cabbages, fish cake, zucchini for variations.

    Goongjoong Ddukbokki:Tteokbokki

    Goongjoong Ddukbokki/Tteokbokki

Korean Lettuce Salad (상추 겉절이 Sangchoo Geotjeori)

Korean Lettuce Salad

Korean Lettuce Salad (Sangchoo Geotjeori)

This Korean Lettuce Salad is a wonderfully delicious side dish to any grilled meats – especially unseasoned grilled meats. The salty, vinegary and slightly sweet chili flavors really help break up any greasy taste of meats while still highlighting the meaty flavor. Korean BBQ restaurants often serve some variation of this salad with BBQ meats using different greens so you probably have tasted some variation before.  Whenever we have a Korean style BBQ at home, this side salad is our favorite especially if we grill pork or beef.

This Korean lettuce salad is so simple and easy to make that it often doesn’t even appear in Korean cookbooks. It may be too simple and easy to some but for those of you who are not very familiar with Korean food or seasonings, I thought it was definitely worth a post in my Korean food blog. Besides grilled meats, the Korean lettuce salad also goes great with just plain rice as part of a very healthy low calorie meal.

The salad is usually called by two names: 상추 겉절이 (Sangchoo Geotjeori or Keotjeori) or 상추 무침 (Sangchoo Moochim). Sangchoo means lettuce. Geotjeori (겉절이) literally means to pickle (jeori) the outside (geot) which is different from pickling the vegetable all the way through (for 8 hrs or more) as you do with cabbages when making Cabbage Kimchi. Moochim comes from the verb” moochida(무치다)” which means to toss and mix the ingredients with some type of seasoning or sauce.

 

 

Servings: 3-4                                  Cooking Time: 10 min                                    Difficulty: Very Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of red leaf lettuce
  • 6-8 perilla leaves (optional)
  • 3-4 stalks of chrysanthemum leaves (쑥갓 sookat) (optional)
  • 2-3 green onions (0ptional)
  • For Soy Dressing
    • 4 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 T rice vinegar
    • 1 T sugar
    • 1 tsp Korean red chili powder
    • 2 T chopped green onions (if you are not adding green onions in the greens)
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Wash and rinse the greens (lettuce, perilla, chrysanthemum leaves). Drain. You can either tear the lettuce and chrysanthemum leaves by hand into bite size pieces (as shown in top photo) or serve whole leaves (as shown below). Do not worry about drying the greens (i.e. no need to use salad spinners) because any extra water on the leaves will dilute the dressing to make it taste just right.

    green lettuce and perilla leaves

    green lettuce, perilla leaves and crysanthemum leaves

  2. Cut perilla leaves into 1/3 in wide strips unless serving whole lettuce pieces. Set aside.
  3. Make soy dressing (see Korean Sauces II post for more info on sauces) my mixing soy sauce, vinegar and sugar first until sugar fully dissolves. Mix in the remaining ingredients (below).

    korean soy salad dressing

    korean soy salad dressing

  4. Toss torn greens with the dressing and serve immediately or serve whole leaves and dressing on the side (see pic below) and allow your guest to dress their own salad or dip the lettuce in the sauce.
    Korean Lettuce Salad

    Korean Lettuce Salad

     

Variations

  • The soy dressing works great for all kinds of greens. Romaine lettuce is one of my favorite because it’s a bit sweet and crunchy which stands up well to the salty soy dressing. Greens that have a more grassy and bitter taste (as opposed to iceberg lettuce which has little flavor) all work well with this dressing.
  • Make a lighter and smoother dressing by adding 1 T apple lemon soy sauce and 2 tsp soy sauce instead of 4 tsp. Also reduce sugar from 1 T to 1 tsp since the apple lemon soy sauce is already sweet.
  • Substitute 1 tsp soy sauce with 1/3 tsp fermented fish or anchovy sauce (멸치액젓 myulchi aekjeot) for a more pungent sauce that taste more like Kimchi.

Storage

  • As with any salad, once it is already tossed with the dressing the greens will lose its crispy crunchiness quite quickly. So, if you like your greens to taste fresh and crunchy, toss and serve immediately.

Rice with Medley of Wild Greens (비빔밥 Bibimbap) – traditional version

Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Bibimbap (비빔밥) – Korean rice mixed with vegetables

“Bibimbap”… If you have ever taken a Korean flight or been to a Korean restaurant then you have probably tasted (or at least  have seen) this dish before. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this dish. I love some versions of it but actually not all. For that reason, I usually don’t order at restaurants unless they specialize in it. If special attention is not given to each individual topping in terms of freshness, quality and seasoning, the final medley can easily taste just so-so. And if you are like me, one simply cannot waste a precious meal on something that tastes just so-so! For me, every meal is an opportunity for something amazing, something exciting and something that will just lift up my spirits.

As a kid, bibimbap was not in my top favorite list because I was just not a big vegetable lover. The other reason was because I often had trouble eating some of the long wild greens such as the fiddleheads (which is quite fibrous and chewy). So it was only in my adult life, I rediscovered bibimbap and started to enjoy it.

But making a proper, traditional bibimbap is quite a bit of work and time.  Fortunately, there are some simplified, quick versions that taste just as good and I will be writing about that soon.

Bibimbap is also a very popular pot luck food for many Koreans in the US. It’s because if each guest can make and bring 1 to 2 toppings, you can make a beautiful bibimbap together quite easily. It also does not have to be served hot which makes serving very easy and is perfect food for buffets. Guests can pick and choose what they want in their bibimbap so it can easily be both a vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. And it’s also gluten-free!

There is really no fixed set of ingredients for bibimbap as “bibim” means “to mix or rub” and “bap” means rice. The toppings usually represent the unique produce of each province in Korea and so the bibimbap will be different based on the area you are in. The typical bibimbap you get in Seoul usually includes 3-4 different edible wild greens (나물 Namul), some common vegetables such as carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, radish and then some meat (beef, chicken) or seafood (squid, shrimp).

PRINT RECIPE

 

Prep Time:   6 hrs           Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 min       Servings: 2             Difficulty: Medium

6 kinds of namul for bibimbap

6 kinds of namul for bibimbap

Above is a picture of the 6 different kinds of vegetable toppings(namul) – listed below from left to right:

  1. Sauteed bell flower roots (도라지나물 Doraji Namul)
  2. Blanched Spinach (시금치나물  Shikeumchi Namul)
  3. Sauteed bracken fiddleheads (고사리 나물 Gosari/Kosari Namul)
  4. Radish Salad (무생채 Moosaengche)
  5. Sauteed carrots (홍당무 Hongdaangmoo)
  6. Cooked Soybean Sprouts (콩나물 kongnamul)

In addition, I cooked some seasoned ground beef and a pan fried-egg for the final topping.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 C short grain rice
  • For the Seasoned Ground Beef
    • 1/3 lb ground beef
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 2 tsp rice cooking wine
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
    • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • For the Bellflower Roots (Doraji Namul)
    • 4 oz (about 2 1/2 C) reconstituted bellflower roots (도라지 doraji)
    • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/4 tsp chopped green onions
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • For the Blanched Spinach
    • 1 bunch spinach, washed
    • 6 C water
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • For the Bracken Fiddleheads (Gosari Namul)
    • 4 oz or 2 C reconstituted bracken fiddleheads
    • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 3/4 tsp gook kanjang
    • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/4 tsp chopped green onions
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • For the Radish Salad (Moosaengche 무생채)
    • 3 C julienned Korean radish (무 moo)
    • 2 tsp sea salt
    • 3 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 3 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
    • 2 2/1 tsp T Korean red pepper powder(고추가루 gochugaroo)
  • For the Sauteed Carrots
    • 1 large carrot or 2 small carrots julienned (about 1 C)
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 T vegetable oil
  • For the Soybean Sprouts
    • 3 C soybean sprouts
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1/3 C water
  • For the egg
    • 1 egg, pan fried, over easy/medium/scrambled
  • For the condiments
    • 2 tsp or more gochujang (adjust to taste)
    • 1-2 tsp sesame oil

Seasoned Ground Beef

- Prepare the ground beef by mixing in all the seasonings and then sauteing the beef on medium heat until fully cooked. Set aside.

Sauteed Bellflower Roots (Doraji)

stir fried bell flower roots (도라지 나물 doraji namul)

stir fried bell flower roots (도라지 나물 doraji namul)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Doraji is usually sold dried. If your store sells the reconstituted ones buy it! If not, soak the dried roots in water overnight and drain. Rub the roots with sea salt to extract some of the bitterness.

2. Split and cut doraji roots into approx 2 in long and 1/8 in thick pieces. Here’s how you can split a whole root (left) and then split each into even thinner pieces (right) – by inserting a small knife upside down (with the blade side up) and then pushing it upwards. Be careful though – make sure you point the knife AWAY from you or anyone you like.. :) Wash and rinse the cut doraji roots and drain.

how to split bellflower roots

insert knife w/ blade side up and split bellflower roots by pulling up

splitting bellflower root(doraji)

split bellflower root(doraji)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Saute doraji and chopped garlic. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt. Saute for 3-4 minutes until the doraji pieces are tender yet still a bit crunchy. Turn off the heat, sprinkle green onions and sesame oil. Set aside.

You can eat doraji raw so don’t worry about not cooking it enough. It’s all about having the right texture (should be slightly chewy and crunchy) and the right amount of seasoning. Adjust salt to taste – keep it on the lighter side because additional seasoning will be added to the final dish.

NOTE – when you taste doraji while it’s hot/warm, it will taste quite bitter. Don’t worry..the bitter taste will mostly go away once it cools. But remember that it is supposed to taste still slightly bitter as it belongs to the ginseng family.

Blanched Spinach (시금치 나물 Shikeumchi Namul)

  1. Boil a pot of salted water (6 C or so + 1 tsp salt) and quickly blanch the spinach. Do not cook the spinach more than 1 minute. Spinach should be still a bit chewy and not mushy. Shock the cooked spinach in cold or ice water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Drain the water and squeeze out any excess water from the spinach by squeezing them gently in your hand.
  3. Season the blanched spinach with some salt (1 tsp) and sesame oil (1 tsp). Set aside.

Sauteed Bracken Fiddleheads (고사리 나물 Gosari/Kosari Namul)

Reconstituted Bracken Fiddleheads (Gosari)

Reconstituted Bracken Fiddleheads (Gosari)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If using dried Gosari -

  1. Boil it for 20 – 30 minutes until they are soft then drain. Soak in cold water for 6-8 hours to draw out any bitterness.
  2. Trim the reconstituted Gosari by going through each piece and cutting off any hard stems.
  3. Cut them into bite size pieces (2 in long)
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Saute Gosari and chopped garlic. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt and gook kanjang.  Saute for 5 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat, sprinkle green onions and sesame oil. Set aside.

Radish Salad (무생채 나물 Moo Saeng Che Namul)

See my previous post for Korean Radish Salad for detailed instructions. You only need a little bit for bibimbap so I reduced the ingredients by half for this recipe.

Sauteed Carrots (홍당무 Hongdangmoo)

Add 1 T oil in frying pan on medium heat. Add julienned carrots and a pinch of salt. Saute carrots until they are soft and tender.

Cooked Soybean Sprouts (콩나물 Kongnamul)

soybean sprouts (kongnamul)  in pot

cooked soybean sprouts (kongnamul) in pot

  1. Wash and clean the soybean sprouts. Optionally break off the root ends if they are brown.
  2. In a small pot, add water, soybean sprouts, salt and garlic. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 8 minutes or so until most of the water has evaporated. Remember the sprouts may taste fishy if you open the lid during cooking. It’s good if you can use a clear glass lidded pot so you can see it without opening the lid.
  3. Turn off heat and sprinkle the sesame oil. Set aside.

Pan Fried Egg

Usually the egg is fried over easy so the egg yolk is still runny. If you don’t like it that way, you can certainly cook the egg all the way or even scramble it. Fully cooking the egg will not give you the rich yolk taste but it can also make the bibimbap taste lighter and drier which some people may prefer.

Now, let assemble the bibimbap -

  1. Put rice at the bottom of a bowl

    Rice in bowl

    Rice in bowl

  2. Top the rice with all the vegetables and the ground beef in the middle. Don’t you just love the colors?

    bibimbap with toppings

    bibimbap with toppings

  3. Add the fried egg on the very top and serve with gochujang and sesame oil so each person can season to their taste. Mix it all up and there you go!
    Bibimbap served with Gochujang and Sesame oil

    Bibimbap served with Gochujang and Sesame oil

    How to eat – 

    One final note on how to eat bibimbap. Many Koreans add a lot of gochujang and make it really red and spicy. I personally don’t like it that way because you can’t really fully taste all the different ingredients. So start by adding a little bit of gochujang (1 tsp) and then increase gradually.

    What to serve -

    Serve with some clear soup like bugeo gook or miyeok gook. Also some fresh side dish of Kimchi is a must.

    Variations -

    Any of the toppings above can be substituted and you can have more or less toppings. It all works.

    • meat/fish toppings other than ground beef – beef bulgogi/kalbi/chicken bulgogi/pork bulgogi/squid/shrimp
    • wild greens (namul)- any other wild greens such as aster scaber (취나물 chinamul), shitake mushrooms, perilla leaves,
    • common vegetables (sauteed) – sauteed zucchini, bean sprouts (instead of soybean sprouts), stir-fried cucumbers, sauteed onions, sauteed burdock,
    • fresh greens – fresh lettuces (romaine/green leaf/iceberg), fresh perilla leaves, fresh crown daisies

    You can also sprinkle some roasted sea laver pieces as a final garnish.

    BON APETIT!

Total Ingredients (this includes everything)

  • 2 servings of cooked rice (1 C uncooked rice)
  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 4 oz bellflower roots
  • 4 oz bracken fiddleheads
  • 3 C soybean sprouts
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 large radish (approx 3 C julienned)
  • 1 T + 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cooking rice wine
  • 3 tsp sesame oil + 2 tsp for finishing
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 T + 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp chopped green onions
  • 3/4 tsp gook kanjang
  • 2 1/2 tsp gochookaroo (Korean red chili powder)
  • 1 T gochujang

Soy maple glazed anchovies (멸치 볶음 Myulchi Bokkeum)

soy glazed anchovies with peppers

soy glazed anchovies with peppers

I am actually best known for my Myulchi Bokkeum among my friends and family. And it’s probably one of the dish I make the most. So I’m not sure why I haven’t posted this before…I guess I really didn’t think that it was anything special..but then recently eating at a restaurant, I realized how the taste can vary from the ones that are really bland,  to the ones that have the perfect balance of salty and sweet and then the ones that are just overloaded with spice and garlic – making it hard for you to really taste the anchovy at all.  Also in terms of texture,  it can be too wet and mushy or too hard and gummy – missing the perfectly chewy and crispy range in the middle. Of course, there is the wet version (Jorim)  which is supposed to be very soft but we are talking about the dry version here which is called bokkeum (볶음) and that is all about having the right amount of crispness without it being too hard.

Nutrition: Because you eat these anchovies whole including the bones, they are loaded in calcium. My husband says that this is how he was able to grow tall even though he hardly drank any milk while growing up. Myulchi is also a good source of DHA which is an important nutrient for the brain. So you can see that myulchi bokkeum is really one of the most nutritious lunchbox (doshirak) banchan you can make for your child. And most likely, your child will love the taste of it, so give this a try!

Print Recipe

 

Servings: 3-4                                       Cooking Time: 15 min                                     Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 C small dried anchovies for stir fry (볶음 bokkeum)
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 pc of ginger slice (1/4 in thick)
  • 2 shishito/green chili peppers (optional)
  • for the glaze
    • 1 T soy sauce
    • 1 T sugar
    • 1 T sake or rice wine
    • 1 tsp water
    • sesame seeds
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp maple syrup or rice syrup or malt syrup
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Directions

1. Try to buy good quality dried anchovies (마른 멸치 mareun myulchi). They should not be too dry (it should still be somewhat soft and not hard). If the anchovies are really dry it means it’s too old. The best way to judge the quality is to taste them – they should be still soft, chewy and taste not too salty but meaty and even a bit sweet. Here’s a pic of some good quality myulchi and their varying sizes. All these three sizes are good for making myulchi bokkeum.

different sizes of dried anchovies

different sizes of dried anchovies

Anything bigger, it is really not fit to be eaten whole since the innards taste quite bitter. Some people may even say that the bigger size at top left is too big. But if you take off the head along with the gut from the anchovy, you can enjoy a more meaty mulychi bokkeum. Below is a photo that shows how you can take out the gut and the head – hold the head with one hand and twist it off gently and most likely the gut will come off with the head.

gutted anchovies

gutted anchovy (top right)

2. Prepare the glaze –  in a bowl, add soy sauce, sugar, sake, water, and sesame seeds. Set aside. Cut shishito peppers into bite size pieces.

ingredients for myulchi bokkeum

ingredients for myulchi bokkeum

3. On medium high heat and brown ginger in oil (2 min or so) until brown. The essence of ginger will get infused into the oil which will take away any fishy smell from the anchovies.

ginger in oil

ginger in oil

myulchi saute

myulchi saute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Add dried anchovies and sliced peppers to the hot ginger oil and saute for 3-4 minutes until they are slightly browned. This step is very important. Make sure you saute enough until the anchovies are well browned before going to the next step.

5. Lower the heat and add the soy sauce glaze to the pan. Stir for about 2 min. until the anchovies are evenly glazed with the sauce.  Drizzle the maple syrup and stir for another 1 – 2 min until the anchovies are well coated and has a sheen to them. Turn off the heat. Finish the dish by drizzling some sesame oil.

myulchi bokkeum

myulchi bokkeum

Serving Suggestions

Myulchi Bokkeum is really one of the most basic banchan in a classic Korean meal. It is a great item in children’s lunchboxes and also in ssam (try this instead of pike mackerel or bulgogi in a ssam). Also great with various soups – both spicy and savory/mild flavors.

Storage

Most markets will store these in the fridge but it tastes best when it is kept at room temperature. It will stay fresh for days to even a week at room temperature due to its salt and sugar content.

Variations

Make a spicier version by reducing soy sauce to 1/2 T and adding 1/2 ~ 1 T gochujang. The recent trend is to add nuts such as walnuts, sliced almonds and peanuts when making myulchi bokkeum so it’s something worth trying if you like nuts.

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