Hobak Namul (Korean Stir-Fried Zucchini)
Hobak Namul is a popular Korean side dish (banchan). It is also very easy to make and requires very little time, 10-15 MINUTES MAX. That’s music to my ears.
Usually, Chosun Hobak (Korean Zucchini) is used for this dish. They are rounder and fatter than the thin zucchinis available in most American grocers. And the flesh is slightly sweeter. I’ve been pretty spoiled; because my maternal grandmother grows them in her backyard. Most years, she has an abundance during harvest season. She has enough to share them with her friends and neighbors. Needless to say, she’s a very popular woman. And she has enough leftover to store them for later use after the season is over.
But I don’t have the benefit of my grandmother’s green thumb in New York. And I make do with what I can find at my local grocers. So the latest batch was made with the thin, green zucchinis that are readily available at most American grocery stores. Just cut them at an angle to ensure more of the “meat” is in every bite. Korean zucchinis are fatter with thinner skin; cutting the zucchinis at an angle will mimic the meat-to-skin ratio of a Chosun Hobak.
Additionally, saewoojut (salted shrimp) is used to flavor the dish instead of salt. If you can get to a Korean market, saewoojut should be an item on your shopping list (along with gochujang – Korean chili pepper paste – and kimchi, of course!). There are many uses for it. Saewoojut is commonly used in making kimchi, soups, and dipping sauces. Of course, you can just use salt, but you will not get the depth of flavor that saewoojut would provide. So I hope you will give it a try.
1 large zucchini, Sliced thinly at an angle
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped into thin rings
1/2 – 1 tsp salted shrimp*
1/4 – 1/2 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
crushed toasted sesame seeds
salt to taste
canola oil, for cooking
*Note: For a vegan or vegetarian option, substitute salted shrimp with sea salt. Start with about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp and work up if necessary.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add about 1 TB of oil to the pan. Swirl to coat. Add the garlic and white part of the chopped green onion. Allow it to sizzle and become fragrant (make sure garlic doesn’t burn). Add slice zucchini to the pan and stir until the slices become soft, no more! Do not overcook. Add salted shrimp and red chili pepper flakes. Stir well. Add the chopped green onion (green part) and crushed toasted sesame seeds. Mix. Remove from heat.
- If necessary, add salt to taste. If desired, add whole toasted sesame seeds, red chili pepper flakes, and/or chopped green onion as garnish. Serve with steamed rice.