kong bap bento

10 01 2010

this is my second entry into hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. contest, so i’ll discuss my theme-requisite roasted veggies first.  i roasted sweet potato slices and brussels sprouts in the toaster (great for saving energy on a small batch), with olive oil, salt, pepper, and gochugaru (korean red pepper flakes) – yum!  the roasted veggies are propped up on some lemon-pepper tofu.  in the top left we have nashi and peach fans with a few strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  in the top right is a small green salad (just a few slices of cucumber and carrot, with two takuwan flowers and three grape tomatoes).  in the center hole i have a bottle of citrus-yuzu dressing for the salad.

what, you may be thinking, is that weird brown-ish rice-and-beans mixture in the bottom left compartment?  drumroll, please… it’s kong bap (공밮), and my boyfriend’s mom is pretty confident that it’s the key to a long and healthy life!

i finally took the plunge and invested in a new cuckoo rice cooker… it’s a korean brand that uses “fuzzy logic” technology (like the zojirushis, which i also looked at but passed up because the cuckoo seemed more versatile, allowing me to cook soups and stews as well as all kinds of rice… more on my plans for jigae and kalbi-jjim in the future!).

although kong bap is historically associated with prison food, it’s still a staple in many korean homes, and it’s SUPER healthy.  there are many variants on this extremely basic recipe, but the all-korean “cooking guide” that came with my rice maker (causing me to spend more than an hour on google translate to figure out just three recipes, grrr) is as follows:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dried red beans
  • 3.5 cups water

i substituted black beans and mung beans for the red beans, and used closer to a 1/2 cup than a 1/3 cup of beans in total, and it still came out fine.  i used the “turbo” (pressure) setting on my cooker, and it took about 40 minutes, which is a dramatic time saver compared to soaking the beans overnight.

if you don’t have a fancy-schmancy rice cooker, don’t worry!  you can make brown rice on the stovetop, using between 2 and 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of uncooked brown rice (i like to add a tbsp. of olive oil as well), and simmering in a 2-quart or larger saucepan for 45-50 minutes until tender.  fluff with a fork once all the liquid has been absorbed.  you will want to make the beans in a separate pot (if you are using dried beans, cooking them is a much longer process that you should start the day before; however, you could also used canned beans), and mix with the rice when both components are fully cooked.

i love the nutty flavor and wettish, sticky texture of kong bap… plus, when i feel like i’m eating something good for my body, that often makes it taste better.  at least that’s what i’ve convinced myself!


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12 responses

10 01 2010
bentobird

Beautiful, beautiful bento–a poem to the lovely fruits and vegetables you’ve gathered! The layered cukes and enoki flourishes are so nice. Really appreciate your interesting recipes! I’ve been eyeing these pretty bags of Korean mixed grains and beans at H-Mart and this post provides encouragement to dive in and cook them up!

10 01 2010
gamene

hey jenn, thanks so much for your positive feedback — not sure you can call kong bap a “recipe” but it may be new to some people so i thought it would be good to get the general idea out there. you should DEFinitely go crazy with the mixed bags at Hmart (that’s actually where we got this new ricemaker, i love that place)… it takes some experimentation to get your water/rice/beans ratio and cooking time perfect but once you do, you have a healthy staple forever! i love kongbap with kimchi, and if you keep a freezer stash of this rice, you can pretty much always have a snack/meal ready to go (since kimchi keeps in the fridge for months and months)…

10 01 2010
sherimiya

Does sound healthy! Red beans and rice calls to mind another fave (Cajun-style!)… it’s a time-tested fantastic combo. Congrats on your new rice cooker too! I have the Zo and I love it; so much fun to play around with🙂

10 01 2010
gamene

thanks for your congrats – i feel like i just bought a new car, haha! seriously, i deliberated as much about a rice maker as i did for my last car, not kidding. i assume you are happy with the zo — do you ever make dishes besides rice in it?

10 01 2010
sherimiya

I’ve heard that recently from folks just buying their first fancy rice cooker… makes me feel like I just jumped willynilly into my purchase! It was really just on sale at the store I happened to walk by, so I bought it one day!
Have only made various kinds of rice and rice/mixed veggies, osekihan, sticky rice so far. My book even includes a recipe for paella, which I thought was kind of funny. Can’t wait to see what you make with yours!

10 01 2010
gamene

ha sheri, i am sure you didn’t jump in willynilly — plus, you have a family of four to be making rice for, so i’m sure you are getting more use out of the appliance. in order to justify it for my household of 2 (esp. since the 2 of us often don’t even eat/like the same kind of rice), i had to make sure it could do double duty. but if the zo has a “slow cook” setting then i bet it does too! paella IS random/funny… wonder how that would turn out? (some of the new sanyo rice cookers have a setting for the crusty rice on the bottom of dol sot bibim bop, that *has* to function somewhat like the paella crust, no??)

11 01 2010
Lia Chen

What a wonderful bento Megan! So vibrant and healthy. I agree with your boyfriend’s mom but I’m sure my kids will take out the beans from the rice hehehe … Rice cooker is very essential equipment for us here since almost everyday we are having rice🙂

11 01 2010
Lil'chan

What a beautiful and well balanced meal ^-^ I love how you arranged the fruits and salad. And thank’s for sharing the kong bap recipe😉 Sounds yummy.

11 01 2010
Kong Bap Bento – Bento Central

[…] kong bap?”, you’ve come to the right place!  Check out Gamene’s latest post on Bento Zen for more information on this healthy Korean rice dish. Share and […]

11 01 2010
gamene

thanks lia and lil’chan… haha lia your comment about your kids taking out the beans made me laugh, my boyfriend HATES this rice and would take out the beans too, so i guess some kids never grow up😉

11 01 2010
Susan Yuen

Wow, gorgeous bento!!! All of the vibrant colors and the meticulous arrangement make your bento absolutely beautiful. 😀 My first thought really was “WOW!”.

14 01 2010
happy 101 award and new rice cooker « bento zen

[…] to discuss my new rice cooker.  i also noticed last night that, since i did my post on kong bap, a bunch of people have clicked through to the amazon link i provided to my new […]

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