What is there not to love about a 10-minute cooked side recipe? This stir-fried Korean zucchini side dish (hobak bokkeum) is sweet and tender with quintessential Korean ingredients such as garlic, sesame seeds and scallions.
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
A hot side dish ready in 10 minutes is definitely a recipe worth keeping around! Especially on those days when you want something super light and easy to whip up. This is absolutely delicious with a hot bowl of rice.
This fried zucchini side dish is incredibly easy to prepare, too—nothing fancy at all. Just slice up the zucchini and scallions and mince the garlic. Then fry and add the sauces, and you’re done before you know it!
What is Hobak Bokkeum?
“Bokkeum” means to stir fry or to cook food.
“Hobak” in Korean is somewhat controversial because it can mean either pumpkin or zucchini. It is used interchangeably, although it would seem the correct terminology is pumpkin rather than zucchini. But if you ever look up hobak bokkeum, you will come to a stir-fried zucchini side dish, not pumpkin.
Traditional hobak bokkeum is made with saewoojeot (fermented mini shrimps). But as most people find this ingredient too overpowering, it is often substituted by Korean fish sauce made with anchovies. You still get the much-needed fish taste without the fermented flavours.
I also figured that the chances of using fish sauce again instead of fermented shrimp were much higher!
What is Aehobak?
Perhaps the word hobak is used also to represent zucchini because “aehobak” is Korean zucchini.
Let me confuse this scenario even further. Aehobak actually means young squash, but it is referred to as a zucchini. It is a lighter green, has thinner skin, and the flesh inside has a yellow tinge.
It is said that aehobak is sweeter than regular zucchinis. I have never had the pleasure of trying one as they are just not available in Australia. But I’ll take their word for it!
Is Zucchini a Squash?
While we’re on the subject of zucchinis and squashes, did you know that all zucchinis are squashes, but not all squashes are zucchinis?
I’m not sure about you by now, my head is spinning!
Zucchini is a type of squash; hence the 2 terms are sometimes used to describe one another. Squashes, on the other hand, come in so many different shapes and sizes that you can’t actually call all of them zucchinis.
Flavour/Texture: Pan fried zucchini is just delicious. Soft, tender and sweet, they are quite moreish. Add signature Korean ingredients such as minced garlic, sesame oil and Korean fish sauce, and you have yourself a really umami, salty and flavoursome Korean side dish.
Ease: This Korean style zucchini recipe is truly easy to make. Essentially, you’re just cutting up a few ingredients and throwing them in a frypan with some sauces, and you’re done!
Time: 10 minutes, and you have yourself a hot side dish! How good is that?
Ingredients you will need to make Korean Zucchini Side Dish – Hobak Bokkeum.
Zucchini: For this recipe, I just used a regular zucchini from the supermarket. Using the traditional Korean aehobak zucchini is almost impossible to find in Australia. Not even the Korean supermarket had it. Apart from that, they are a summer vegetable, so even harder to procure!
Avocado oil: As always, I like using avocado oil for cooking. It doesn’t break down in the heat and doesn’t have overpowering flavours.
Scallion or green onion: You can use either scallions or green onions. Korean cuisine does use green onions more often than not, but it was my preference to use scallions.
Minced garlic: I love mincing garlic using a garlic press. So, satisfying watching the garlic come through. LOL!
Fish sauce: Use aekjeot, Korean fish sauce. It is salty, a little sweet and oh so umami!
Water: To create a small amount of sauce.
Sesame oil: Drizzled at the end for flavouring.
Sesame seeds: Added at the end of the cooking process and for garnishing when serving.
Step by step instructions for how to make Korean Zucchini Side Dish – Hobak Bokkeum.
Slice the zucchini and then cut them into semi circles.
Chop the whole sprig of scallion or green onion.
Mince enough garlic to yield 1 tsp.
Heat a frypan with avocado oil.
Add zucchini, fish sauce and minced garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
Add 2 tbsp of water.
Add scallions or green onion, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Stir fry for another minute.
Place on a serving bowl, garnish with more toasted sesame seeds and serve.
Variations and Substitutions
Korean zucchini substitute: The preferred zucchini for this Korean side dish is the Korean aehobak. As they are not easy to come by, a regular zucchini will be fine.
Vegan version: For a vegan recipe, substitute with a vegan fish sauce such as Ocean’s Halo, 24 Vegan Fish Sauce or Au Lac Vegan Fish Sauce.
Replacing fish sauce: If you don’t like the taste of fish sauce in general, you can substitute it with soy sauce, tamari or oyster sauce for some umami flavours.
Scallions or green onions? You can use either scallion or green onion for this stir-fried zucchini recipe. Green onions with larger bulbs tend to be more pungent if that is your preference.
Spicy recipe: You can add Korean gochugaru or red pepper flakes for a spicy version of this zucchini recipe. I would add ½ tbsp at a time, depending on how hot you would like it to be.
Great Mains for This Side Dish
How to serve Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul.
Bibimbap: Bibimbap means “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables”. Served on rice, it is one of the best ways to use up leftover Korean banchan and meat after a big night of Korean BBQ.
Samgyeopsal gui (grilled pork strips): A truly famous dish, synonymous with Korea cuisine, samgyeopsal is usually served up with an array of Korean banchan. Samgyeopsal is unmarinated, grilled strips of pork belly. Once grilled, they are then dipped into a seasoning of salt and pepper with sesame oil and then wrapped in lettuce with garlic and green onion.
Beef bulgogi: Bulgogi is the most popular Korean Grilled BBQ Beef dish that is made from marinated thin slices of beef that’s traditionally grilled over an open flame. It is sweet and salty with garlicky soy sauce. Best served with a few Korean side dishes and steaming hot rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make this hobak bokkeum (Korean zucchini side dish) spicy, just add some gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). While stir frying the zucchini with fish sauce and garlic, add some gochugaru to really spice things up!
Bokkeum refers to almost an entire category of Korean side dishes. Within the bokkeum category, there are dry and wet recipes.
Some examples of dry bokkeum side dishes include gamja-chae-bokkeum (stir-fried julienne potatoes), myeolchi-bokkeum (stir-fried anchovies) and ojingeo-chae-bokkeum (stir-fried dried shredded squid).
Some of the saucier bokkeum recipes include jeyuk-bokkeum (stir-fried pork), nakji-bokkeum (stir-fried long arm octopus), and soseji yachae bokkeum (stir fried sausage vegetable).
While hobak bokkeum will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days from a food safety perspective, it really only has a shelf life of a day or 2 from a freshness point of view.
The zucchini will water and go limp when you try to reconstitute it in the microwave. Best to make enough just for the one meal.
How easy is this recipe? Trust me when I say that it’s absolutely delicious, and I love nothing more than nice, simple flavours. This Korean zucchini side dish is a great example of how something could taste so good without unnecessarily complicating it.
More Korean Side Dishes Recipes (Banchan 반찬)
Here are more Korean side dishes you can make at in the comfort of your own kitchen:
- Korean Braised Potatoes – Gamja Jorim (감자조림)
- Korean Steamed Eggplant Side Dish – Gaji Namul (가지 나물)
- Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul (시금치나물)
- Korean Soybean Sprout Side Dish – Kongnamul Muchim (콩나물 무침)
- Korean Pickles in Soy Sauce – Jangajji (장아찌)
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Korean Zucchini Side Dish – Hobak Bokkeum
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- Slice the zucchini and then cut them into semi circles.
- Chop the whole sprig of scallion or green onion.
- Mince enough garlic to yield 1 tsp.
- Heat a fry pan with avocado oil
- Add zucchini, fish sauce and minced garlic. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Add 2 tbsp of water.
- Add scallions or green onion, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Stir fry for another minute.
- Place on a serving bowl, garnish with more toasted sesame seeds and serve.
- The preferred zucchini for this Korean side dish is the Korean aehobak. As they are not easy to come by, a regular zucchini will be fine.
- For a vegan recipe, substitute with a vegan fish sauce such as Ocean’s Halo, 24 Vegan Fish Sauce or Au Lac Vegan Fish Sauce.
- If you don’t like the taste of fish sauce in general, you can substitute it with soy sauce, tamari or oyster sauce for some umami flavours.
- You can use either scallion or green onion for this stir-fried zucchini recipe. Green onions with larger bulbs tend to be more pungent if that is your preference.
- For a spicy version of this zucchini recipe, you can add Korean gochugaru or red pepper flakes. I would add ½ tbsp at a time, depending on how hot you would like it to be.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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