Make this homey Korean favorite: Kongnamul Bap or Soybean Sprout Rice! A hearty, comforting dish featuring soybean sprouts and rice. Flavored with kimchi and ground pork and drizzled with tangy Korean dipping sauce — it’s the ultimate in warm, cozy comfort food!
What is Kongnamul Bap or Soybean Sprout Rice?
Kongnamul Bap, also known as Soybean Sprout Rice, is a popular Korean dish that’s often cooked and enjoyed at home. Cozy and homey, it’s a simple rice dish flavored with steamed soybean sprouts. Typically, it’s served with a drizzle of Yangnyeom Jang (Korean dipping sauce). A familiar comfort food, Kongnamul Bap is wonderfully savory and deeply nourishing.
In Korean, “Kongnamul” means soybean sprouts and “Bap” means rice. Kongnamul Bap contains a generous amount of soybean sprouts. As they steam, the light, delicate flavor soaks into the rice. Combined with kimchi and pork, it’s a true one-bowl meal.
Pure Korean comfort food, Kongnamul Bap exemplifies the best of Korean home cooking: versatile, simple to make, and so delicious. Every household makes their own version. It’s such a hearty, comforting dish. And simply irresistible!
What are Soybean Sprouts?
Soybean Sprouts are the sprouts of soybeans. They contain an oval-shaped, bright yellow head and a long, white stalk. Also called Kongnamul, they are a popular staple in Korean cuisine. Steamed, stir-fried, or added to soups and noodle dishes – they have a delicate, distinct flavor and aroma.
Soybean Sprouts are low in calories and high in vitamin C, fiber, and folate. They help with digestion, fight cancer, and are good for improving eyesight, heart health, and stabilizing your metabolism. They also contain anti-aging benefits.
Sometimes, Soybean Sprouts are confused with Mung Bean Sprouts. But they are not the same. Soybean sprouts are the sprouts of soybeans. Mung Bean Sprouts are sprouts of mung beans. Mung Bean Sprouts are also smaller with a dark green head.
- Soybean Sprouts (Kongnamul). Nutrient-rich and high in fiber, soybean sprouts are the star ingredient. As they cook, the soybean sprouts will steam and release their flavorful essence into the rice.
- Short Grain Rice. For best texture, use short grain rice which is smaller and plumper. The texture of short grain rice is very pleasing in this dish — sticky and slightly firm and chewy. Medium grain rice can also work but I don’t recommend long grain. It will be too fluffy and soft.
- OLD Kimchi. Old kimchi is very sour and acidic. When cooked down, it becomes caramelized, mellow, and deeply delicious. Don’t use fresh, new kimchi for this recipe — it won’t taste the same.
- Soy sauce. Adds lots of umami flavor and depth.
- Mirin. Korean sweet cooking wine. Removes the gamey scent and flavor of meat. Can be subbed with Shaoxing wine, sherry, vermouth, or rice wine.
- Ground pork. Adds a satisfying, nubby texture. But any kind of pork will work (pork butt, pork belly, pork loin, etc.).
- Yangnyeom Jang. A classic Korean sauce that’s essential for the flavor profile to this dish! Made with Korean pantry ingredients: Soy sauce, garlic, green onion, sesame seeds, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and Gochukaru.
- Prep rice. Rinse short-grain rice 3-4 times in cold water, until the water runs clear. Cover with water and set aside.
- Cook ground pork. In a clay pot, cook ground pork, breaking up large clumps with a spoon.
- Add kimchi, kimchi juice, soy sauce, mirin. Cook until the flavors come together and the kimchi looks somewhat caramelized, about 5 minutes. Using the back of a spoon, spread out the pork and kimchi into an even layer at the bottom of the pot.
- Add rice. Drain water from the rice. Add directly on top of the kimchi and ground pork. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread rice all the way to the edges of the pot, in an even layer.
- Add water. Add enough water to cover.
- Add soybean sprouts. Cover and lower heat to medium-low untiil cooked through, about 12 minutes.
- Steam for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep covered and let stand for 5 minutes. This extra 5 minutes of steaming is essential!
- Make Yangneom Jang. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together.
- Serve and enjoy! Remove the lid and mix the bean sprouts into the rice with a spoon. Divide evenly between two bowls and serve with Yangnyeom Jang.
- Rinse the rice! An essential step to remove excess starch and prevent gummy rice. Don’t skip it — the final texture will be mushy.
- Use a fine mesh sieve. To rinse and drain water from the short grain rice. Makes this step much easier.
- Save leftover Yangnyeom Jang. Makes a great dipping sauce for dumplings, pot stickers, savory pancakes, jeon, etc.
My Korean Grandmother’s secret for PERFECT Soybean Sprout Rice:
Unlike most Western recipes that require exact, standardized amounts — Kongnamul Bap requires a little flexibility.
The amount of liquid depends on many factors: the age of the kimchi, the amount of water released by the pork, how quickly the liquid reduces, etc.
To avoid gummy, overcooked rice, follow my Korean Grandmother’s advice for perfect Soybean Sprout Rice:
- Soak the uncooked rice in water, then add JUST enough water to cover.
Not too much, not too little! Look eye-level to the pot. The water should barely cover everything with a grain or two poking up here and there. That’s the perfect amount of water needed.
Do I need a Korean clay pot (ttukbaegi) to cook this dish?
A clay or earthenware pot makes this dish extra homey and delicious. Clay retains heat well, making it the ideal cooking vessel for rice. If you have one, use it!
But if you don’t own one, you can still make this dish. Medium stainless steel or non-stick cooking pots will both work well. Make sure you use a tight-fitting lid.
However, do not be tempted to use an enameled cast iron pan, like a Lecreuset or Staub dutch oven. (Non-stick coated ones could work, but I’ve never tried.) Otherwise the rice burns and sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Can I make Kongnamul Bap vegan?
Yes, absolutely! Kongnamul Bap is vegan friendly.
Simply substitute the ground pork with 5-6 dried shitake mushrooms. Soak in boiling water until soft (5-10 minutes), then slice and follow the rest of the recipe. Everything else remains the same. Don’t forget to use vegan kimchi (no fish sauce or shrimp paste)!
Is this spicy?
Although the final dish can look quite red, it’s not very spicy. The spice level depends on the kimchi that’s used — which can make the dish range from very mild to medium spicy.
For a less spicy Kongnamul Bap, rinse kimchi with water first. With a milder spice level, the flavor of the soybean sprouts will be more pronounced.
More easy recipes:
- Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)
- Ground Beef Bulgogi Bowls
- Gochujang Pork Bowls
- Hwe Dup Bap (Korean Sushi Bowl)
Kongnamul Bap (Soybean Sprout Rice)
- medium Claypot (optional) OR medium saucepan
- 1 cup short grain white rice (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup/ 100 grams ground pork
- 1 cup/ 150 grams kimchi, chopped (preferably old and mature)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Mirin (Korean sweet cooking wine) can be subbed with Shaoxing wine, rice wine, sherry, or vermouth
- 1-2 handfuls soybean sprouts rinsed and drained
Yangnyeom Jang dipping sauce
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp vinegar (rice or white both work)
- 1 Tbsp Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 green onion, chopped
- Prep Rice. Rinse short grain rice 3-4 times in cold water, until the water runs clear to remove excess starch. Add enough water so the rice is submered and set aside. (The rice will absorb the water as you cook, creating a better texture in the end.)
- Cook ground pork. Heat a medium claypot (or medium saucepan) over medium heat. Add 1 tsp sesame oil + 1 tsp vegetable oil. Add ground pork and cook until no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes. Break up large clumps with a spoon.
- Add kimchi, kimchi juice, soy sauce, and mirin. Cook until the flavors come together and the kimchi looks caramelized and soft, about 5 minutes. Using the back of a spoon, spread out the pork and kimchi into an even layer at the bottom of the pot.
- Add rice. Drain water from the rice. Add the rice directly on top of the kimchi and ground pork. Using the back of a spoon, gently spread rice all the way to the edges of the pot, in an even layer. Keep the heat at medium.
- Add water. Add enough water to just cover the rice. If you look eye level, the water will barely cover the rice with a grain or two sticking up here and there. Use the picture for reference.
- Add soybean sprouts. Gently add a big handful (or two) of soybean sprouts. Do not disturb the layers of rice, kimchi, and pork. When the liquid on the edges start to bubble, cover with the lid and lower heat to medium low. Cook until rice is cooked through and the soybean sprouts are wilted, about 12-14 minutes).
- Make Dipping Sauce. While the rice cooks, make the Yangneom Jang. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.
- Steam 5 minutes. When the rice is fully cooked and the soybean sprouts are wilted, remove from heat. Keep covered and let stand for 5 minutes. This extra 5 minutes of steaming is essential!
- Serve and enjoy. Remove the lid and mix the bean sprouts into the rice with a spoon. Divide evenly between two bowls and serve with Yangnyum Jeon. Enjoy!