Have you heard of Kongnamul bap? It’s not a common dish but it is a game changer if you have access to bean sprouts. My Korean husband was amazed that he had never tried this dish before and absolutely loved it. Plus it’s super easy and very adaptable to pantry cooking and vegetarian cooking.
Kongnamul bap (콩나물밥) is basically rice cooked with kongnamul (bean sprouts) mixed with an easy sauce. Simply add bean sprouts to your rice, and cook the rice the same way as you normally do. The rice will soak up the nutty flavor of the bean sprouts as it cooks.
IMPORTANT: Use less water than usual to make rice because the bean sprouts will release a lot of water.
If you don’t have access to fresh kongnamul, try growing some at home. Kongnamul is a low calorie, nutrient rich food that is especially high in Vitamin C, Vitamin, K, and folate. Even better, it takes just 6 days for your kongnamul to be ready to eat! Here’s a link to purchase seeds if you’d like to give it a try: Sprouting Mung Bean Seeds. Wherever you purchase, be sure to check out the customer reviews to make sure you’re purchasing high quality seeds.
Check out the video below to see just how easy it is to grow your own kongnamul:
After cooking the bean sprouts and rice, we usually add bulgogi and/or boiled tofu to the dish before adding the sauce (yangnyumjang) for a more substantial meal.
Below is a beautiful recipe by Hyosun Ro, author of the blog Korean Bapsang. She adds kimchi to her kongnamul bap which you can skip if you want a less spicy version. The soy sauce mix is absolutely key in this dish and Hyosun’s recipe nails it.
Try it for yourself and I promise you will make this a part of your regular rotation!
- 1-1/2 cups short grain rice
- 1-1/2 cups water
Vegetables and meat:
- 1 pound soy bean sprouts
- 4 – 6 ounces beef or pork (omit for a vegetarian option)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or mirin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic
- 1 cup thinly sliced kimchi preferably fully fermented
- 2 tablespoons juice from kimchi
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes gochugaru
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 – 3 scallions finely chopped
Rinse the rice. Drain. (This is to make sure the correct amount of water is added.) Place in a pot or rice cooker and add the exact amount of water (1:1 rice to water ratio). Let sit so the rice is soaked. Wash the bean sprouts and drain.
Cut the meat in small pieces and lightly season with the next 3 ingredients. Cut the kimchi into thin strips (about 1/2 inch). Heat a skillet with a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Stir-fry the kimchi for 2 – 3 minutes, adding some juice from kimchi to intensify the flavor, if available. Add the meat and stir-fry for another minute or two. (The meat doesn’t need to be cooked through.)
Spread the bean sprouts over the rice, followed by the stir-fried kimchi and meat. Start the rice cooker, or cook over the stovetop.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the sauce by mixing all sauce ingredients.
When the rice is done, gently fluff up the rice, evenly distributing the sprouts, meat and kimchi. Serve with the sauce on the side.
Stove top method:
- In a heavy bottom pot with a lid, stir-fry the kimchi for 2 – 3 minutes, adding some juice from kimchi to intensify the flavor, if available. Add the meat and stir-fry for another minute or two. (The meat doesn’t need to be cooked through.)
- Stir in the rice and water. Place the bean sprout on top. Cover, and bring the rice to a full boil over high heat. This will take 4 to 5 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, and leave the pot covered for about 5 minutes.