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Japchae is one of the most comprehensive dishes in terms of variety of ingredients and a very popular dish on birthdays.

This is one of the best loved Korean noodle dishes by Koreans as well as by foreign visitors to Korea. The main ingredients are sweet potato noodles which are combined with a lot of different vegetables and meats. Japchae combines over 20 different vegetables with pheasant meat and was eaten by Korean kings and the royal family.

Korea was colonized by Japan between 1910 and 1945, Beginning in 1920, Korea underwent drastic changes under Japanese rule not only in politics but also culturally including food too. After 1920 Japchae, previously a dish for the upper classes, was commoditised and became available in restaurants dish using sweet potato noodles coming from China.

In 1592 Japan invaded Korea the war, we call Imjin Waelan, lasted for 6 years. When the war finished and Japan retreated, there was not enough food for the people also there was no palace left for the king. It was at this time that Japchae became very highly prized by the King.

There is a written record that two low class men, with power over many farmers collected all the ingredients and bribed the king with Japchae and then, the king knighted them. The other courtiers sarcastically called them the Japchae knights.

Speaking of which,

“Innocent if rich, guilty if poor”, is a well-known adage in Korea.

The Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics had been found guilty of bribing the former president, Park Geunhye. So, I guess bribery is still the route to power.


Kong-namul muchim (soybean sprouts)/substitute beansprouts



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Kong means bean in Korean, Namul means edible plants.

Banchan (side dishes) are a big part of the Korean home kitchen. Kong-namul is one of the most popular side dishes and also one of the classic vegetable ingredients of Bibim-bab. It seems that Koreans started to eat this around 500 years ago.

Beansprouts are different to Kong-namul. Beansprouts are from the Mung bean. Kong-namul are sprouts of the Soy bean. We boil them and drain off the excess water then add seasoning.

Kong-namul muchim is an everyday banchan because it is inexpensive. The texture is crunchy and nutty and flavour of sesame oil. It is always served as one of the banchan in Korean BBQ restaurants.

In Cambridge, we have only one Korean supermarket called Seoul Plaza. In the past they used to stock a lot of fresh Korean ingredients but now there are less Korean and more from other nations. Kong-namul is therefore harder to find, so I thought I would try to grow it myself. Unfortunately, after two attempts I have been unsuccessful but I am still trying because it is worth it.

There are two versions of this Banchan, one is seasoned with a soy sauce called Guk-ganjang the other is additionally seasoned with chilli.

Another use of Kong-namul is as soup with rice. We call this Kong-namul guk (soup) bab (rice) and it is famous as a hangover cure. There are many restaurants that specialise only in this “hangover stew”.

Another famous recipe is called Kong-namul-bab which is a kind of very delicious Bibim-bab but seasoned with only soy sauce.

Kong-namul is a very good combination with Kimchi either in a soup or stir fry. I love this and I can’t stop eating it. My sisters wonder how I eat these all the time for weeks on end!

Kong-namul (soybean sprouts)

prepare and cooking time: 15 minutes

serves: 4-6


350g, 1 bag of soybean sprouts , washed and trimmed

Make saltwater

1 Tablespoon, sea salt

3 cups, water


10 leaves of chives , chopped finely

1/3 of carrot, matchstick, thinly

2 garlic cloves, grated

1Tablespoon, toasted sesame seed

1 Tablespoon, toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon, Guk-gan-jang(naturally brewed soy sauce for soup)

1 teaspoon, caster sugar

A pinch of ground white pepper

1 teaspoon, chilli powder (optional)


    1. Firstly, make salted water and set aside.
    2. Wash chives and peel carrot and 2 cloves of garlic.
    3. Chop chives finely and transfer into a large mixing bowl. Cut carrots into matchstick finely and grate garlic cloves then transfer them into the large mixing bowl.
    4. Rinse the soybean sprout in cold water 3-4 times, while washing the sprouts, discard the bean’s skin (like skin colour cap) and any floating or sunk the bottom of the soybean sprouts. Get rid of if you see any rotten sprouts.
    5. Add the washed soybean sprouts into the large pot then put melted salt water into the pot with tight lid on a high heat. Do not open until it boils (if you open it, there will be fishy smell).
    6. Be prepare a colander in sink to drain soybean sprouts water.
    7. Turn off the heat after boiling starts 2-3 minutes later (from the staring to finishing around 5-7 minutes).
    8. Pour boiled Kong-namul (soybean sprouts) into the colander. Don’t keep cooked soybean in water. They will be moisturised a lot.
  • Colling down around 5 minutes then transfer Kong-numal into the large mixing bowl and add toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, Guk-gan-jang( soy sauce for soup) and sugar mix and toss well with your hand.  You can keep it in your fridge for 2 days. Don’t keep it more than 2 days, Soybean sprouts will go bad very quickly. You can substitute Guk-gan-jang for salt in this recipe but the taste is different.  


  • Substitute for Guk-gan-jang for 2 Tablespoon, dark soy sauce/ chopped 2 prawns, boil them for 1-2 minute
  • You can add cooked prawns, squid or lobster.

Gochujang Yangnyum Bibimbap



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You need gochujang Yangnyum. Cooked rice

All you will do is finely sliced vegetables(carrots, pointed cabbage(cabbage), onions, leeks, potatoes(optional), cucumber, peppers, bulgogi for nonvegans, for the vegans  fried tofu(temple kimbap), shiitake mushrooms or just Gochujang Yangnyum

Stir fry  each vegetable(except cucumber) for 20-30 seconds.




Gochujang Yangnyum



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A teaspoon Gochujang Yangnyum over Dasima and cabbage rolls.

Kombu is the Japanese word for dried sea kelp and Dasima in Korean and seaweed including dried sea kelp is widely consumed in Korea.

This dish is a favourite picnic and party food  and you can taste at moderately expensive Korean traditional restaurants. If you want to impress your friends or party guests then this is the dish that you can make in a short time but it is a healthy and delicious vegan dish.

Gochujang is fermented chilli paste and Koreans often add some vegetable or cooked and chopped meat or seafood to make the sauce rich, less salty and taste to take another level of taste.

You can use this sauce for bibimbap sauce as well as stir fry.

If this sauce is spicy then add some tomato puree, for mine added 2 Tablespoons.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 people


You will need to buy Gochujang from a Korean supermarket or Amazon

For the marinade (Gochujang sauce)

  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrots, onions, yellow peppers, leeks
  • ¼ cup Gochujang, Korean chilli paste
  • 4 tsp tomato puree (optional)
  • 2 tsp grated garlic, toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds
  • 1tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tsp runny honey
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 145g canned tuna

For the rice

  • 300g cooked rice
  • 1tsp sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds

For the vegetable

  • 5-8 leaves of cabbage
  • 2-3 piece of Dasima(Kombu)
  1. Drain the tuna in a strainer in the sink. Make sure to break up the chunks of tuna.
  2. Mix all the Gochujang ingredients and put them aside or keep it in a jar.
  3. For the vegetables, if the Dasima is thick then boil it for 2 -3 minutes, if the Dasima is thin then just soak in cold water for 20 minutes. When finished, dry out with kitchen towel. Place 2-3 layers of cabbage leaves on a microwave-safe plate for 40 seconds.
  4. Prepare cooked rice then add sesame oil, sesame seeds, chia seeds and a tiny pinch salt then mix them well. Put aside and cover with a lid or cling film.
  5. Spread a portion of rice covering ¼ of the cabbage leaf and just roll forward, pressing gently and tightly with a mat. When the roll is complete, press inwards at both open ends and wrap with cling film.
  6. Repeat with Dasima too.
  7. Leave for 20-30 minutes, before removing the cling film and slicing to serve.
  8. Scoop your Gochujang sauce on top of the cabbage & Dasima rolls.