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Goguma-bap: Add Korean Flavors to Your Sweet Potatoes

November in South Korea is a time when the air is filled with the aroma of roasted sweet potatoes. They are typically cooked outside over barrel drums filled with glowing coals, while home cooks use this season to incorporate the tubers into a variety of tasty dishes.

One such dish is goguma-bap, which offers a unique twist on a Thanksgiving side with minimal effort. It combines sweet potatoes with short grain rice and a sweet-spicy soy-based dressing, creating a hearty vegetarian option. The sweet potatoes are peeled and cubed, then steamed with the rice and seasoned at the table with soy sauce and chives. The result is a flavorful dish highlighting the natural taste of sweet potatoes supplemented with fresh allium notes and nutty sesame seeds.

It’s also a perfect choice for a weeknight dinner. In this recipe from “Cook What You Have,” which utilizes pantry staples to create easy meals, the sweet potatoes are seasoned with a small amount of sauce before cooking to enhance their flavor. While the recipe suggests short-grain brown rice for added complexity, it only requires 10 minutes of active work.

For those who have access to an Asian supermarket, garlicky Chinese chives can be used in place of scallions. Additionally, regular red pepper flakes can be substituted for the Korean red pepper, gochugaru, typically used in this dish.

To ensure the sweet potatoes cook evenly with the rice, it’s important not to cut them too large. Additionally, while steaming the dish, keep an eye on the saucepan. If you notice a lot of steam coming from the lid, quickly uncover to allow the built-up steam to escape, then recover, reduce the heat slightly, and continue cooking.

Check out the full recipe for Sweet Potato Brown Rice with Soy and Scallions.

Start to finish: 50 minutes (10 minutes active) | Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions OR Chinese chives
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) OR red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon honey OR white sugar
  • 1 pound orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white OR black sesame seeds OR a combination, toasted

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine the rice and 1¾ cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to low, cover and cook without stirring for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the scallions, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper flakes, and honey. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the soy mixture and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, uncover the pot, scatter the sweet potato mixture over the surface of the rice (without disturbing the grains), and re-cover. Cook over low heat until both the sweet potatoes and rice are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Gently fluff with a fork, trying not to break up the potatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve with the remaining soy sauce mixture for drizzling.

For more recipes and dinner ideas, visit The Washington Times food section here.

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