Sweet and Salty Soybeans (콩자반 Kongjaban)

Sweet and Salty Soybeans (Kongjaban)

Kongjaban or Kongjang is a popular lunchbox banchan (side dish). Cooked correctly, the soy beans should have just the right bite and the sauce a good balance of sweet and salty flavors. 
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Keyword banchan, beans, lunchbox, vegan
KoreanCategory Jorim (조림)
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 7 hours
Servings 16
Calories 118kcal
Author JinJoo Lee


  • 2 cups black soy beans (Seoritae), soaked (or 3/4 cups dry black soy beans)
  • 3 cups water, or more
  • 5 Tbs soy sauce (jinkanjang)
  • 4 Tbs sugar
  • 2 cups liquid from soaked beans
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup


  • Soak the dry soybeans in 2 cups of water for 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).
  • Drain the liquid from the soaked soybeans and add to pot with 3 1/2 cups 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.
  • Drain the cooked soybeans while reserving the cooking liquid.
  • In a pot, add 2 cups of the cooking liquid + soy sauce + sugar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the soybeans to the boiling soy sauce liquid and lower heat once it starts to boil. Simmer for 25 mins, stirring often. Lower the heat if you find that the liquid is reducing too quickly.
  • Add maple syrup to add shine and additional sweetness. Cook for another 20 mins (stir often) or so until the sauce is reduced and the color has turned dark brown.
  • 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 eat cold out of the fridge. Enjoy it with some plain rice or as a side dish to go with other spicy dishes. 


  • The most frequent problems in making Kongjaban is that the beans come out too hard. This is mainly due to 3 reasons:
    - Beans are not fully soaked
    - Beans are not fully cooked before seasoning is added
    - 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.


Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 434mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 2mg