During my teens, I thought japgokbap, Korean multigrain rice, was diet food. Come January, our staple white rice was replaced by motley grains studded with black, green, and red beans. A bowl of japgokbap screams well-being. Turns out, Koreans traditionally serve it on the first full moon of the lunar calendar for good luck and prosperity. These days, I think of it as a harbinger of delightful things to come in a new year.
On our Korean table, everyone gets their own bowl of japgokbap, treating it just like rice. We top each spoonful with communal banchan (side dishes) and a scoop of spicy kimchi stew. When I’m eating alone (leaning against my kitchen counter), a generous scoop of japgokbap with a handful of pickled radishes is comforting and filling.
Although this recipe provides exact measurements with traditional ingredients, quantities are not critical. A general rule: a one-to-one ratio of rice to all other grains and beans. The rice can be white or brown. At HMart, a Korean-American supermarket chain, I’ve seen pre-mixed bags of japgokbap with upwards of 25 varieties of grains and beans. That’s your permission to go rogue with any kind you like.
What’s not riffable: soaking the dried grains and beans for 6 to 12 hours to help them cook faster and more evenly. The tricky thing about japgokbap is that each ingredient cooks at a different rate. Soaking levels the playing field. If it has an outer membrane, like beans or whole grains do, soak it; if it is quick-cooking, like white rice, no need. Also, a rice cooker or electric pressure cooker (I use an Instant Pot) will save you the trouble of uneven cooking or burning at the bottom of the pot.
The older the beans are, the longer they will take to soften, even in a pressure cooker. If the age of your beans is questionable, soak them for 12 hours. And if they still turn out underdone, it's time to say goodbye to the rest of the bag (or better yet, turn them into pie weights). —Myo Quinn
- Prep time 12 hours
- Cook time 40 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
- Combine the sorghum, adzuki beans, and black beans in a medium bowl. Cover with water by 2 inches. Soak for 6 to 12 hours. (If longer than 6 hours, transfer to the fridge so they don’t go bad.)
- After soaking, rinse the sorghum, adzuki beans, and black beans under running water and drain. Repeat twice.
- Don't soak the rice and millet. Right before cooking, rinse them in a medium bowl under running water. Gently swirl them with your hands until the water is no longer cloudy. Drain.
- Combine all of the ingredients in an electric pressure cooker with 3 cups of water. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes and let it naturally release steam for 10 minutes. If using a rice cooker, select the multigrain setting (it will automatically set the cook time).
- Before serving, use a large spoon to gently stir the japgokbap to fluff the rice and evenly distribute the grains and beans.