Kongnamul Bap (Soybean Sprouts Rice Bowl)
I’m sure some of you have never heard of Kongnamul bap. Although it may not be a household name here, it’s actually a very popular rice dish in Korea. Along with bibimbap and kimchi fried rice, Kongnamul bap makes up the troika of Korea’s most popular and classic rice dishes. Although I enjoy all three, I prefer kongnamul bap over the others during the colder seasons. It’s usually served piping hot, and it’s so comforting. Oh, and it’s unbelievably quick and easy to make.
OK. If you really want to get literal or technical, kongnamul bap is a type or a subset of bibimbap; it’s mixed (“bibim”) before eating, and it consists of rice (“bap”). But kongnamul bap is quite distinctive in taste and preparation from the traditional bibimbap. While bibimbap is normally served with seasoned gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste), kongnamul bap is served with seasoned soy sauce. As you can imagine, this makes a marked difference in the taste.
And unlike bibimbap, which can be tedious in preparation, the kongnamul bap recipe I’m sharing with you requires almost no preparation at all. Many kongnamul bap recipes out there require much more time and effort, mainly because they require that you cook the rice along with the kongnamul. But this recipe allows you to use up whatever cold rice you have left in the fridge. Have any leftover rice from the Chinese takeout last night? Yup, you can use that for this dish. It’s pretty much foolproof. I, however, can’t take credit for this, because it’s my grandmother’s tried-and-true recipe.
Easy Kongnamul Bap (Soybean Sprouts Rice Bowl) Recipe
Serves 2 people
2-3 cups kongnamul (soy bean sprouts)
1/2 – 1 cup ripe kimchi
3 cups cooked day-old or cold rice
1 – 2 tsp canola or other neutral tasting oil
~2 TB water
For the sauce
1-2 scallions, chopped
1 garlic clove minced
3 TB tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1-2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper powder)
- In a heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, add water, soybean sprouts, kimchi, and oil (in that order). On top of the kimchi, add the cold rice. Close the pot. Make sure the lid is on tightly. Turn the heat on to medium. Once the pot has been heated, after about 3-4 minutes, adjust the heat to LOW. Continue cooking the contents on low heat for about 14-15 minutes. Don’t open the lid.
- While the Kongnamul bap is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients for the sauce.
- Remove the pot from heat once it is done cooking. Leave the lid closed for about a minute.
- Divide the contents between 2 bowls. Place the rice in the bottom and top with soybean sprouts, then kimchi. Add the sauce on top. Alternatively, you can mix the kongnamul bap in the pot and divide the mixed rice into two bowls, then top with sauce. Serve immediately while still hot. Mix and enjoy!
When you add the sprouts to the pot, pile them loosely in the bottom of the pot. Don’t pack them. Make sure that the sprouts are in the bottom. If kimchi or the rice is in the bottom, it WILL burn. Additionally, if you are cooking for 2 like me, use a smaller pot. I used a 7-inch heavy bottomed pot.
You can adjust the water as you get more familiar with this dish. 2-3 TB should be more than enough to keep the bean sprouts from burning. I tend to add less. In fact, when I just cook the bean sprouts as banchan, I don’t add any water at all. The steaming process and the water that is already present on and in the sprouts are enough to cook the sprouts without burning. But for this dish, a little bit of water needs to be added, because there are other ingredients in the pot with the sprouts.
I used day-old (cold) steamed brown and wild rice for added nutrients.