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Stir-fried Sweet Potato Stems

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quick n easy
prep time: 
10 min
inactive time: 
0 min
cooking time: 
20 min
total time: 
30 min

Korean cooking is extremely resourceful. A prime example of this culinary ingenuity is the use of sweet potato stems. Often ignored in the US, the stems of the sweet potato are edible and highly nutritious. There are two types of sweet potato stem banchan (side dish) recipes in Korea; one that uses fresh stems and the other uses dehydrated stems, each has its distinctive taste.

Goguma Julgi Bokkeum, stir fried sweet potato stems, is a special banchan because fresh sweet potato stems are not readily available everywhere. The dish has a refreshing “green” taste and blends well with garlic and spice of the red chili pepper. If you spy fresh sweet potato stems at a local farmers’ market or know someone who’s growing sweet potatoes, snatch them up! Once you taste Goguma Julgi Bokkeum, you’ll want to grow your own sweet potatoes just for the stems.

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Change to: Metric US
8 ozSweet Potato Stems 고구마줄기
¼ Onion (Medium) 양파
½ Red Chili Pepper 붉은 고추
1 tbsSoy Sauce for Soup (Gukganjang) 국간장
2 tbsPerilla Oil 들깨기름 (can use sesame oil instead)
1½ tspGarlic (minced) 다진 마늘
1 cup  Water 물
3 tbsPerilla Seed Powder 들깨가루 (can use sesame seeds instead)
2 tspSalt 소금

Optional Ingredients and Substitutions
Perilla oil: Perilla oil can be replaced with sesame oil.
Perilla seeds: Perilla seeds can be replaced with sesame seeds.

More questions? Please leave your questions below in the comments section. We will do our best to answer as soon as we can.

Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.

1. Prepare sweet potato stems

Wash 0.5lb (227g) sweet potato stems under running water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to boiling water and blanch the sweet potato stems for 5 seconds. Put them in cold water immediately. Tip: If you blanch the sweet potato stems too long, the inner part becomes too soft and it will be difficult to peel off the skin.

image: NMGJAA01.JPG

Wash thoroughly


  • boil water
  • 1tsp salt
  • blanch 5 seconds
  • in cold water immediately

2. Peel

Snap the part where the leaves are connected to the stem and peel off the skin downwards. (Then, the green inner part of the stem will appear.)

image: NMGJAA02.JPG

Snap stem

  • just below the leaves

Peel off

  • downwards

3. Cut

Cut the sweet potato stems into 2” (or 5cm) pieces. Slice ¼ onion thinly. Slice ½ red chili pepper diagonally. Set aside.

image: NMGJAA03.JPG


  • sweet potato stems
  • 2” (5cm)


  • ¼ onion
  • ½ red chili pepper diagonally

4. Pre-season

Pre-season the sweet potato stems with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (for soup) and mix thoroughly.

image: NMGJAA04.JPG


  • 1 tbs soy sauce (soup)

Mix well

5. Stir-fry

Pre-heat a pan for 1 minute on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of perilla oil (or sesame oil) and ½ tablespoon of minced garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the sweet potato stems and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then, add the sliced onion and stir-fry 2 more minutes.

image: NMGJAA05.JPG


  • image: clock.png 1 min
  • Med Heat image: medheat.png


  • 2 tbs perilla oil
  • ½ tbs minced garlic
  • stir-fry image: clock.png 1 min


  • sweet potato stems
  • stir-fry image: clock.png 3 min


  • onion

6. Braise

Add 1 cup of water and braise on medium heat until the stems become soft and the water is almost gone.

image: NMGJAA06.JPG


  • 1 cup water


  • Med Heat image: medheat.png
  • until soften and little water

7. Finish

Add 3 tablespoons of perilla seed powder (or sesame seeds) and red chili pepper. Stir-fry on medium heat for 2 minutes. Salt to taste and mix well. Turn off the heat.

image: NMGJAA07.JPG


  • 3 tbs perilla seed power
  • red chili pepper


  • Med Heat image: medheat.png
  • image: clock.png 2 min


  • salt to taste
  • mix

8. Serve

Place the stir-fried sweet potato stems on a side dish plate and serve with a bowl of rice. Enjoy!

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  • sweet potato stems
  • on a plate

Serve with rice