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Bibimbap Recipe 5 - Spicy Nakji (Small Octopus) Bibimbap

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Average: 3 (1 vote)
prep time: 
40 min
inactive time: 
0 min
cooking time: 
20 min
total time: 
60 min

Nakji bbokeum (spicy small octopus stir-fry) is amazing in itself. But, when it’s combined with fresh greens and rice, it’s celestial.

You can use the same recipe with squid, octopus (larger), baby octopus (jookoomi in Korean) and shrimp and add your favorite sprouts and greens. See tips below for ingredient variations.

Buy Korean ingredients online here.

Nakji bbokeum (spicy small octopus stir-fry) is amazing in itself. But, when it’s combined with fresh greens and rice, it’s celestial.

You can use the same recipe with squid, octopus (larger), baby octopus (jookoomi in Korean) and shrimp and add your favorite sprouts and greens. See tips below for ingredient variations.

Buy Korean ingredients online here.

Change serving size to: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Change to: Metric US

for nakji bokkeum

Nakji, Small Octopus 낙지
Onion (Medium) 양파
5 ozCarrot (large Korean carrot) 당근 (optional)
Green Chili Pepper 풋고추 (or red chili pepper or regular green peppers)
2 tbsGarlic (minced) 다진 마늘
2 tbsGochugaru, Korean Hot Pepper Flakes 고춧가루
1 tbsSesame Oil 참기름
1 tbsSugar 설탕
1 tbsSoy Sauce for Soup (Gukganjang) 국간장 (or use salt to season)
½ tspBlack Pepper 후추
1 tspSesame Seeds 깨 (optional)
1 tbsShrimp Fish Sauce (Sae Woo Jeot) 새우젓 (or anchovy fish sauce)
1 tbsMul Yeot / Malt (Maltose) Syrup 물엿 (optional, add more sugar)

for other toppings

½ ozRadish Sprout 무순 (or other green sprouts)
½ ozPerilla Leaf, Kaet-nip 깻잎 (about 4 leaves, optional)
½ ozBuchu, Garlic Chive 부추 (optional)
3 leavesRed Leaf Lettuce 상추 (or other salad greens)
½ sheetSeaweed (Gim, Laver) 김 (optional)

Optional Ingredients & Susbstitutions
Mul Yeot: If you don't have it, add 1/2 tbs of ADDITIONAL sugar instead.
Shrimp fish sauce (sae woo jeot): it's a really nice touch but you can get away without it. But, if you don't use it, make sure you season it with salt. You can also substitute shrimp fish sauce with anchovy fish sauce or kanari fish sauce, OR use a combination of these.
Soy sauce for soup (gook-gan-jang): If you don't have it, season with salt.
Sesame seeds: you can omit this if you have sesame oil.
Carrot: you can omit it.
Green chili pepper: It gives a very nice spicy kick however, you can use red chili pepper which is usually less spicy. If you really want to tone it down, use regular red pepper or green pepper.
Sprouts and greens: Although greens such as perilla leaves and garlic chives do add very unique taste and aroma, you don’t have to use all the greens in the ingredient list. You can simply use leaf lettuce and other sprouts.

Good to know
To make the nakji not too chewy, the key is to stir-fry them quickly and add them back later.
This dish is best with these simple vegetables. While adding other vegetables is fine, it may overpower the flavor of the nakji.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any other seafoods?
Yes, you can use the recipe for squid, octopus, baby octopus, shrimp, etc. Although it will still be good, remember that it will taste different than when using just nakji.

Can I use gochujang (korean red chili paste) instead of gochugaru (korean red chili flakes?
Some recipes call for gochujang (red chili paste) but in my opinion it's much better to make it with just gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes). It will give a cleaner taste and bring out the flavor of nakji much better.

My nakgi bokkeum (octopus stir-fry) turned out too watery and bland. What's wrong?
-If you use frozen nakji without thawing or if you don't drain water completely after washing nakji, the water will come out as you cook and it will ruin your dish. Also, if you cook on low heat OR stop in the middle of cooking and resume, this can happen to. So, cook on high heat just before eating.
-If you are cooking a large amount of nakji in one pan, it can get watery. For best results, don't cook more than 3 nakji in one pan especially if you don't have a gas stove.
-If you have too many vegetables, it may become watery and bland.

More questions? Please leave your questions below in the comment 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 radish sprouts

Cut of roots of the radish sprouts. Wash thoroughly and drain completely in a strainer.

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Cut off roots of

10g radish sprouts

Wash thoroughly


2. Prepare greens

Thoroughly wash 3 leaves of red leaf lettuce, 4 leaves of perilla leaves and 10 g of garlic chives under running water. Drain completely in a strainer or pat-dry with clean towel.

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  • 3 leaves red leaf lettuce
  • 4 leaves perilla leaves
  • 10g garlic chives

Drain or pat-dry

3. Cut greens

Fold red leaf lettuce and perilla leaves lengthwise and cut into strips. Cut off the white part white part of garlic chives and cut into bite sized pieces.

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Cut into strips

  • red leaf lettuce
  • perilla leaves into strips

Cut garlic chives

  • into bite sizes

4. Cut seaweed

Cut roasted seaweed (“gim” in Korean) into thin 2 inch long strips. You can use either salted or unsalted roasted seaweed.

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Cut seaweed

  • thin 2 inch long strips

5. Make kong-namul (OPTIONAL)

You can add kong-namul (soybean sprouts namul) as a topping if you like. See the kong-namul recipe here. You can also add other namul’s you love. See all namul recipes here.

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Make kong-namul

6. Prepare nakji

Soak nakji in cold salted water if it’s frozen until it’s thawed. It may take a few hours if it’s really frozen. If you are really in a hurry you can use warm water or defrost in microwave, but be careful that it doesn’t start getting cooked.

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Thaw in cold salted water

7. Clean

In a bowl, place nakji without water and 1 tablespoon of salt (coarse salt is better) and 2 tablespoons of flour (optional). Clean the nakji by massaging it for a few minutes.

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Clean nakji with

  • 1 tbs salt
  • 2 tbs flour

8. Wash

Wash thoroughly in cold water twice.

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  • cold water
  • twice

9. Gut

Using a knife or scissors, cut open the head starting from the bottom opening of the head.

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Cut open head

10. Remove organs

Remove all inner organs.

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Remove organs

11. Remove eyes

Remove eyes using scissors.

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Remove eyes

12. Remove

Remove the round black ball under the arms using scissors.

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13. Rinse

Rinse in cold running water twice and drain the water completely.

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  • cold water
  • twice

Drain completely

14. Cut

Cut nakji into bite sizes.

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Cut into bite size

15. Prepare vegetables

Peel, wash and slice vegetables. Mince garlic.

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Peel, wash, slice vegetables

Mince garlic

16. Make seasoning

Make seasoning with 2 tablespoons of gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes. *Use 3 tablespoons if you like really spicy food.), 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of mulyut (Korean malt syrup - OPTIONAL), 1 tablespoon of shrimp fish sauce (OPTIONAL), 1 tablespoon of soy sauce for soup (OPTIONAL), 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, a pinch of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of minced garlic.

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Make seasoning

  • 2 tbs of gochugaru
  • 1 tbs of sugar
  • 1 tbs mulyeot
  • 1 tbs of shrimp fish sauce
  • 1 tbs of soy sauce for soup
  • 1 tbs of sesame oil,
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tbs minced garlic

17. Sauté Nakji

Coat a pan with vegetable oil and preheat on high heat for 30 seconds. Sauté Nakji on high heat for 1 min or until its color starts to turn purply brown. Transfer into a big bowl. Remember to save the juice too!

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Preheat a pan

  • oil
  • High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 1 min

Sauté naji

High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 1 min

Transfer nakji & juice

18. Sauté vegetables

Sauté carrots for 1 min on high heat. Add onions and cook for another minute. Add green onions and green chili peppers and cook for another 3-5 min.

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Sauté carrots

  • High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 1 min

Add onions

  • High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 1 min

Add green onions & green chili peppers

  • High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 3 min

19. Add nakji and seasoning

Add Nakji and its juice back into the pan. Add seasoning and cook for another 3 min on high heat. If you used fish sauce and soy sauce, most likely you won’t need additional salt. But, it may vary depending on the amount of vegetables and the size of nakji. So taste it and add some salt if necessary. Sea salt always tastes better than table salt as long as it can be evenly dissolved into the dish.

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  • nakji & juice
  • seasoning

High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 3 min

20. Heat stone bowls (optional)

Coat 4 stone bowls with vegetable oil or sesame oil and place a bed of rice (short grain rice/sticky rice) at the bottom of stone bowls and leave them on LOW heat for 15-20 min (or until golden brown crust is formed at the bottom). This is optional. You can just place rice without heating it up. You can use a brass bowl or any other large bowl if you like.

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Coat stone bowl with oil

Place a bed of rice

Low Heat image: lowheat.png image: clock.png 15 min

(golden brown crust)

21. Top with ingredients

Top with all ingredients. If you prefer all ingredients to be hot, add everything when you preheat the stone bowl and rice (in the previous step). You don’t have to completely fill up the bowl. Bibimbap bowls are big so people can mix the content without making a mess. If you are a small eater, use a smaller amount of rice.

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Top with ingredients

22. Serve and enjoy

Serve and enjoy!

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