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
350g, 1 bag of soybean sprouts , washed and trimmed
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)
- Firstly, make salted water and set aside.
- Wash chives and peel carrot and 2 cloves of garlic.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Be prepare a colander in sink to drain soybean sprouts water.
- Turn off the heat after boiling starts 2-3 minutes later (from the staring to finishing around 5-7 minutes).
- 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.