Homey. Comforting. Delicious. Flavored with kimchi, ground pork, and bean sprouts, Kongnamul Bap or Korean Soybean Sprout Rice is all kinds of warm, carby comfort!
Pure Korean comfort food, Kongnamul Bap is surprisingly easy to make at home
What is Kongnamul Bap or Soybean Sprout Rice?
Kongnamul Bap is a cozy Korean rice dish that’s frequently made in one pot. Rice is cooked together with soybean sprouts, kimchi, and a little pork. The flavor combination is hearty, comforting, and nourishing. The rice texture is simply irresistible!
Kongnamul = bean sprouts. Bap = rice. Basically, this is Soybean Sprout Rice.
What makes this simple and underrated recipe so delicious is the generous helping of soybean sprouts. The light, delicate flavor soaks into the rice. Combined with kimchi and pork, it’s a true one-bowl meal!
A drizzle of Yangnyeom Jang (Korean dipping sauce) makes it wonderfully savory, aromatic, and delicious.
- Soybean Sprouts (Kongnamul). Nutrient-rich and high in fiber, soybean sprouts are the star ingredient. While the rice cooks, the bean sprouts steam and release their flavorful essence into the rice.
- Short Grain Rice. For best texture, use short grain rice which is smaller and plumper than other rice grains. 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 rice.
- 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 + Mirin. The seasoning adds deep flavor and aroma.
- 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. Add just enough water to cover 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 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.
- Add water. The edges should be submerged under reddish liquid. The middle will be mostly white. Use the picture below for reference.
- Add soybean sprouts. Cover and lower heat to medium low, until rice is cooked and soybean sprouts are wilted, 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 Yangneom Jang.
- Save leftover Yangneom Jang. Makes a great dipping sauce for dumplings, pot stickers, savory pancakes, jeon, etc.
- Rinse your 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.
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 the rice 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. They are good for many thing but they are not good for rice. (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.
Kongnamul Bap (Soybean Sprout Rice)
- medium Claypot (optional) OR medium saucepan
- 1 cup short grain white rice (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup/100g ground pork
- 1 cup/150g kimchi, chopped (preferably old and mature)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Mirin (Korean sweet cooking wine)
- 1-2 handfuls bean sprouts, washed + rinsed
Yangneom 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 just enough water to cover and set aside. (The rice will absorb the water as you cook, creating a better texture in the end.)
- Cook ground pork. Heat a 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 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!