Korean Sweet Soy-Glazed Potatoes (Gamja Bokkeum) Recipe

A simple glazed potato banchan you won't be able to stop making, or eating.

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Video: Serious Eats and Sunny Lee; Photographs: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Gently shallow-frying the potatoes gives them delicately crisp exteriors; then simmering them after in a covered saucepan makes their interiors tender and creamy.
  • The savory-sweet soy sauce mixture first acts as a braising liquid for the potatoes and then turns into a glossy, sticky glaze when reduced at the end of the cooking process.

If your side dish recipe rotation is feeling a little tired, then this take on gamja bokkeum, a Korean stir-fried potato banchan, is just what you need to get out of that rut.

We start by quickly shallow-frying small Yukon Gold potatoes until they're lightly golden brown. Once they've crisped up, the spuds simmer in a mixture of soy sauce, water, fish sauce, finely grated garlic, and sugar until they're tender and creamy. Then we simply reduce the sauce into a sticky, caramel-like, salty-sweet glaze that coats the potatoes. A final drizzle of toasted sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds provides a hint of nutty bitterness and contrasting texture to balance the sweetness and stickiness of the glaze.

It's a good thing that this recipe only takes 20 minutes to make because it will be in your side dish lineup from now on.

5:39

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 2 to 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) soy sauce (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) fish sauce
  • 1 medium clove garlic (5g), finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 10 ounces (285g) small Yukon Gold potatoes, rinsed and halved (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, water, sugar, fish sauce, and garlic until sugar is dissolved, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

  2. Pour oil into a 3-quart saucier or saucepan. Add potatoes, arranging them cut-side down in a single layer. Set saucier over medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are light golden-brown on cut-side, 5 to 6 minutes.

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  3. Lower heat to medium-low, add soy sauce mixture and stir to combine with potatoes. Cover saucier with a lid, and cook until potatoes are completely tender and offer no resistance when pierced with a cake tester or paring knife, about 10 minutes.

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  4. Remove lid and increase heat to high. Cook, uncovered, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until liquid has reduced and thickened to a sticky caramel consistency that fully glazes the potatoes, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Remove from heat, and transfer potatoes to serving bowl. Drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Special equipment

3-quart stainless steel saucier with lid, heat-resistant spatula

Notes

You can use joseon ganjang (Korean soy sauce made from soy alone), yangjo ganjang (Korean soy sauce made from soy plus wheat), or even Japanese soy sauce here, if that's what you have. See our guide to the Korean pantry for more on the most common varieties of Korean soy sauce.

Look for potatoes that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. If you can't find small potatoes, cut larger Yukon Golds into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This dish is best enjoyed immediately.

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