Kongnamul Bap AKA Bean Sprout Rice

Homey. Comforting. Delicious. Flavored with kimchi and bean sprouts, Kongnamul Bap is all kinds of warm, carby comfort!

bowl of kongnamul bap with two hands

Some people like noodles. Others, bread. Me — I need rice to survive.

I think that’s why I love Kongnamul Bap so much. Kongnamul Bap is the homey, comforting food that Koreans cook at home. Halmoni makes a pork belly version (I’ll post her recipe, too — I promise!) but I think this recipe is more accessible. And basic, in the most essential way.

What is Kongnamul Bap? Basically, Kongnamul Bap is a Korean rice bowl cooked with bean sprouts and kimchi. Kongnamul = bean sprouts. Bap = rice. Drizzled with Yangnyum Jeon (Korean dipping sauce), Kongnamul Bap is savory, warm, and deliciously tasty. Underrated — as simple, home cooked dishes tend to be — it’s the kind of dish I turn to when needing comfort and a sense of stability in life.

Halmoni’s secret for perfect Kongnamul Bap:

The trickiest part to Kongnamul Bap is the liquid to rice ratio. If you add too much water, the rice will become gummy. If you add too little, the rice will be hard and undercooked.

I’ve tried standardizing the amount of water that needs to be added, but it’s wildly inconsistent. Sometimes, you need a small amount of water. Other times, more.

That’s because the pork and kimchi release different amounts of liquid. Every. Single. Time. There’s too many variables that cannot be measured or controlled (kimchi age, kimchi juice amount, water released by pork, how quickly the liquid reduces, etc.). How much water needs to be added, exactly?

Here’s Halmoni’s secret: soak the uncooked rice in water, then add JUST enough water to cover. If you 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! (Check out the how-to photos below.)

If you think this is a weird way to cook rice, IT IS. But trust me — it works!

Ingredients:

Bean Sprouts [Kongnamul]. Kongnamul Bap is all about the Kongnamul! Also called soybean sprouts, add as much or as little as you like. I’m a big fan of this nutrient-rich, high fiber vegetable, so I add a lot. Place bean sprouts directly on top of the rice. While the rice cooks, the bean sprouts steam and release their flavorful essence into the rice.

Short Grain Rice. Koreans eat short grain rice. Short grain rice is smaller and plumper than other rice grains. The resulting texture is quite starchy and sticky, which makes for a very pleasing, chewy texture. If substituted with long or medium grain rice, the texture won’t be the same.

Old Kimchi. Kongnamul Bap is a great way to use up old kimchi. All that flavor! Fresh kimchi just won’t taste the same. So don’t throw away that jar of old kimchi, stashed in the back of your fridge. Instead, save it for Kongnamul Bap (or Kimchi Jjigae).

Ground pork. Over the years, I’ve cooked this dish with every cut of pork. They all taste good, actually. That’s because kimchi and pork are culinary besties. But ground pork adds a satisfying, nubby texture. So good!

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)!

Pin for Later:

What kind of pot should I use?

As a rice fanatic, my preference is to cook rice in clay pots. Inexpensive and durable, clay pots are the perfect cooking vessel for rice.

But stainless steel pots also work fine. As do non-stick ones. The only requirement is 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.

How to Make Kongnamul Bap:

Rinse short grain rice 3-4 times in cold water, until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch. Add just enough water to cover and set aside.

Heat a claypot (or medium saucepan) over medium heat. Add sesame oil and cook ground pork, breaking up large clumps with a spoon.

Add chopped kimchi and kimchi juice. Add soy sauce and 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.

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 enough water to just cover the rice. The edges should be submerged under reddish liquid. The middle will be mostly white. Use the picture below for reference.

Add a big handful (or two) of bean sprouts. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Simmer until rice is cooked through and the soybean sprouts are wilted, about 12 minutes.

Remove from heat. Keep covered and let stand for 5 minutes. This extra 5 minutes of steaming is essential! 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!

bowl of kongnamul bap with two hands
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Kongnamul Bap AKA Bean Sprout Rice

Homey. Comforting. Delicious. Flavored with kimchi and bean sprouts, Kongnamul Bap is all kinds of warm, carby comfort!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: Bean Sprout, Kongnamul Bap, Rice
Servings: 2
Author: The Subversive Table | Lis Lam

Equipment

  • medium Claypot (optional) OR medium saucepan

Ingredients

  • 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 (according to personal preference)

Yangnyum Jeon

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (rice or white both work)
  • 1 Tbsp Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 clove ginger, minced
  • 1 green onion, chopped

Instructions

  • Rinse short grain rice 3-4 times in cold water, until the water runs clear. This removes 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.)
    short grain rice, covered in water
  • Meanwhile, heat a claypot (or medium saucepan) over medium heat. Add sesame oil and cook ground pork, breaking up large clumps with a spoon, about 2-3.
    ground pork in the bottom of a clay pot
  • Add chopped kimchi and kimchi juice. Add soy sauce and 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.
    kimchi and ground pork in clay pot
  • 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.
    ingredients in clay pot
  • Add enough water to just cover the rice. The edges should be submerged under reddish liquid. The middle will be mostly white. Use the picture for reference.
    ingredients for kongnamul bap in clay pot
  • Add a big handful (or two) of bean sprouts. By now, the liquid on the edges should be bubbling. Cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook until rice is cooked through and the soybean sprouts are wilted, about 12-14 minutes).
    soy bean spouts in rice bowl
  • While the rice cooks, make the Yangnyum Jeon. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.
  • Remove from heat. Keep covered and let stand for 5 minutes. This extra 5 minutes of steaming is essential! 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!
    two bowls of kongnamul bap with yangnyum jeon on the side

Notes

2*  To make it vegan:  soak 5-6 dried shitake mushrooms in boiling water until soft, about 5-10 minutes (you can also use fresh shitakes).  Then slice and use in place of ground pork.  Also, make sure your kimchi is vegan (no shrimp paste or fish sauce).  
5*  Use this trusted Halmoni method: add JUST enough water to cover the rice grains. If you 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.
6*  The amount of bean sprouts is up to you.  I like a lot — 2 big handfuls.  Some people like less.  For the bare minimum, 1 handful is good.
30 minutes, All Recipes, Kimchi, Korean, Main, Pork, Weeknight Meals

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Love the pictures, made for a Western European’s convenience. Thx

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