Octopus Banchan
Octopus Banchan

This Octopus Banchan is quite similar to the Korean dish, Nakji Bokkeum, in that both involve octopus cooked in a spicy, and somewhat sweet sauce made with the condiment known as Gochujang. The latter, however, is generally served hot as a main dish, often over rice or noodles, while the former, being a ‘banchan’ is served, generally cold, as a side dish.

Ingredients for the Octopus Banchan

The recipe here is designed as a way to use up the various bits and pieces of octopus leftover from preparing other, more substantial octopus dishes. To make one small banchan serving, you will need:

  • 1 cup of octopus pieces;
  • ¼ of a small onion, thinly sliced;
  • 1 Tbsp. Gochujang;
  • 2 Tbsp Corn Syrup, or Rice Syrup;
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. Rice Wine;
  • ½ tsp. Sesame Oil.
Octopus and Onion ready to make a Banchan
Octopus and Onion ready to make a Banchan

Here you can get a rough idea of the relative amounts of onion and octopus used. Most of the octopus consists of the tips of the tentacles (along with some strips from the mantle), and these were cut from an octopus that had been tenderized by pre-blanching (See: How to Prepare Octopus). This step is not strictly necessary when you are using very small pieces as seen here, but if octopus has not been tenderized this way, it will require a bit more cooking time and you will need to make allowances for this, one way or the other.

The Method

Cooking Onion with Gochujang
Cooking Onion with Gochujang

After quickly sautéing the onion in a little oil, add in the Gochujang, syrup, and enough rice wine to make a thin sauce and allow this to cook for a minute or two.

Cooking Octopus in Gochujang Sauce
Cooking Octopus in Gochujang Sauce

Next, turn up the heat to high and add in the octopus, about a quarter cup of water, and a half-teaspoon of sesame oil. The idea is to allow the octopus to cook very briefly as the water reduces. If you are not using pre-blanched octopus meat, this step may take a little longer and you may need to add a little more water during the process.

Reducing the Gochujang Sauce
Reducing the Gochujang Sauce

When the water has evaporated and you are left with a ‘syrupy’ sauce, let it cool and then serve whenever you are ready. Usually (although yours truly forgot this step), you would garnish the dish for service with an attractive sprinkling of sesame seeds, or maybe some chopped green onion.

You can, of course, increase the amounts used here and make enough for several servings. The use of the syrup along with Gochujang results in a dish that will keep very well for many days in the refrigerator. You can keep enough on hand to make banchans for several meals, and you could also use it for bento-box style meals, or else as a tapas-style appetizer, or a simple snack.

Octopus Banchan

This Octopus Banchan features octopus and onion cooked in a spicy sweet sauce. It can be served as a side-dish in a Korean meal, or as a simple appetizer.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Korean
Author: John Thompson

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Octopus Pieces
  • 1/4 small Onion thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Gochujang
  • 2 Tbsp Corn Syrup or Rice Syrup
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Rice Wine
  • 1/2 tsp Sesame Oil

Instructions

  • After quickly sautéing the onion in a little oil, add in the Gochujang, syrup, and enough rice wine to make a thin sauce and allow this to cook for a minute or two.
  • Next, turn up the heat to high and add in the octopus, about a quarter cup of water, and a half-teaspoon of sesame oil. The idea is to allow the octopus to cook very briefly as the water reduces. If you are not using pre-blanched octopus meat, this step may take a little longer and you may need to add a little more water during the process.
  • When the water has evaporated and you are left with a ‘syrupy’ sauce, let it cool and then serve whenever you are ready. Garnish the dish for service with an attractive sprinkling of sesame seeds, or maybe some chopped green onion.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!