Kongjaban (콩자반) (Sweet and Savory Braised Black Beans)

© Sungsook Park

Kongjaban is a sweet and savory braised black bean dish served as a side dish in Korea. Side dishes in Korea are often prepared in large quantities to last several days and are referred to as “mit-banchan” (밑반찬), meaning basic side dishes. This dish was particularly popular in school lunchboxes (Doshirak, 도시락) during my school days.


  • 2 cups of black beans (Seoritae 서리태)* (Soybeans can be used instead of black beans.)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 3 cups of black bean boiling water
  • Optional: 3 cups of kelp water
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of peanuts and 1/2 cup of almonds

Sauce ingredients

  • 2 cups of black bean boiling water
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine (Cheungju)
  • 1 tablespoon of rice syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds


  1. Soak the black beans in 4 cups of water for 4-5 hours. The soaking time depends on the temperature. Gently wash the soaked beans to prevent them from peeling off and allow them to dry.
  2. Place the black beans in a pot, add 3 cups of water (or 3 cups of kelp water), and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, and cover it. The oil prevents the skins from peeling off and gives them a shiny appearance. Cover the pot and boil it to prevent any fishy odour. If it boils over high heat, reduce it to medium heat and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add sugar, rice wine, rice syrup, and soy sauce to the beans. Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Stir to combine for an additional 2-3 minutes over high heat to achieve a thick consistency. Sprinkle sesame seeds at the end. Adjust the sugar according to your preference.
  4. For enhanced flavour, you can add peanuts and almonds to Kongjaban.

Further indication for your recipe

To cook the beans softly, when boiling them, add cold water, boil them, slowly ripen the beans, and add sugar first, and soy sauce later. Using kelp instead of water enhances the flavour. If adding peanuts and almonds, slightly poach them in boiling water and rinse to remove bitterness before adding them to Kongjaban.

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