One-Pot Wonders

Nakji Bokkeum (Korean Style Octopus in Spicy Sweet Sauce)

May  2, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Serves 5
Author Notes

This sweet and spicy octopus stir fry dish is a classic Korean favorite, often served with buckwheat noodles or rice. It can be made with both fresh and frozen octopus

The flavors delicately dance between sweet and spicy, from the fermented red pepper paste (gochujang) along with a hint of sugar. The spice level can easily be adjusted for the faint of heart.

Tip: Be sure to use Korean red pepper paste and Korean red pepper flakes, as they are vastly different in flavor from their Western counterparts. The ingredients can easily be found in any Asian grocery store. —Ambitious

What You'll Need
  • For the sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 2.5 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • For the stir fry
  • 2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 cups white or yellow onion, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1.5 cups carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 Asian green long peppers, deseeded and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds octopus (fresh or frozen), cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 stalk of scallion, cut into small pieces, for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil (or some other oil good for high heat cooking)
  1. Prepare the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Rinse octopus under cold water. Using a very sharp knife, cut the tentacles into 1? pieces, and the head into 4 pieces. (Peel octopus if you want to, but skin is not noticeable once it’s cooked.) Fill a bowl with very cold water and place the octopus there until you’re ready to cook. If using frozen octopus, thaw in a bowl filled with cold water for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add sesame oil, red pepper flakes and garlic into a large cold pan. Turn the heat to medium and stir it around for 1-2 minutes, until the sesame oil has turned to a deep red hue. (The heat is added gradually in order to avoid burning the garlic pieces.)
  4. Add all the vegetables to the same pan and pour about half of the sauce mixture. Cook over medium heat until all the vegetables have cooked through, about 5 minutes. The onions will release a lot of water, so cook until all the water has evaporated.
  5. Drain water from the bowl containing the octopus. Add octopus to the pan, then pour rest of the sauce. Stir and cook until octopus is no longer translucent in color, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Garnish with scallion pieces and serve immediately with rice or buckwheat noodles.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jonathan Oettle
    Jonathan Oettle
  • gingerroot
  • Ambitious

3 Reviews

Jonathan O. October 7, 2016
Made this, not bad but needs tweaking. Don't use nearly as much pepper flakes or garlic, and double or even triple your sauce volume because the onions don't release lots of liquid as claimed. Also, use considerably more soya sauce, double at least. Lastly, we found the recipe lacked some umami and was improved with the addition of mushrooms.
gingerroot May 2, 2011
This sounds delicious. We were thinking along the same lines...I made a quick tako (octopus) poke that I am posting later today with gochujang.
Ambitious May 3, 2011
Yum! Poke and gochujang sounds awesome!