Spike your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with Korean flavors

by Lucas Garcia
Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes

Enhance your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with Korean flavors

Every November in South Korea, the air is filled with the inviting scent of roasted sweet potatoes, cooked outdoors over barrel drums filled with glowing coals. Simultaneously, home cooks take advantage of the season to showcase these tubers in a variety of delightful dishes.

One such dish, known as goguma-bap, presents an intriguing option for a Thanksgiving side dish that requires minimal effort. This recipe combines sweet potatoes with short-grain rice and a sweet-spicy soy-based dressing, creating a hearty and vegetarian offering. After peeling and cubing the sweet potatoes, they are steamed alongside the rice and seasoned at the table with soy sauce and chives. The outcome is a dish that exudes the pure flavor of sweet potatoes, complemented by the fresh accents of allium and nutty sesame seeds.

Moreover, it serves as an ideal choice for a weeknight dinner. In the version featured in our book “Cook What You Have,” which relies on pantry staples to assemble straightforward meals, we suggest seasoning the sweet potatoes with a small amount of the sauce before cooking to infuse them with exceptional flavor. While we prefer the nuttiness of short-grain brown rice for added complexity, the dish demands only 10 minutes of active preparation.

The pungent, garlicky Chinese chives, resembling thick blades of grass, can be used in place of scallions if obtained from your local Asian supermarket. Additionally, the Korean red pepper typically employed in this dish is called gochugaru, but regular red pepper flakes work just as well.

It’s essential to cut the sweet potatoes into appropriately sized pieces to ensure they cook in harmony with the rice. Additionally, while steaming the dish, be vigilant; if you observe excessive steam escaping from the lid, promptly uncover the pot to release the built-up steam, then recover it, reduce the heat slightly, and continue cooking.

Sweet Potato Brown Rice with Soy and Scallions Recipe

Preparation Time: 50 minutes (Active Time: 10 minutes)
Servings: 4


  • 1 cup of rinsed and drained short-grain brown rice
  • ½ cup of thinly sliced scallions or Chinese chives
  • ⅓ cup of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons of Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) or red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or white sugar
  • 1 pound of peeled and ½-inch cubed orange-flesh sweet potatoes (approximately 3 cups)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted white or black sesame seeds or a combination


  1. In a large saucepan, combine the rinsed rice and 1¾ cups of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to low, cover, and cook without stirring for 15 minutes.

  2. In a small bowl, mix together the sliced scallions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, grated garlic, pepper flakes, and honey.

  3. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce mixture and ½ teaspoon of black pepper.

  4. After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, uncover the pot, evenly distribute the sweet potato mixture over the rice’s surface (without disturbing the grains), and re-cover. Continue to cook over low heat until both the sweet potatoes and rice are tender, which should take around 20 to 25 minutes.

  5. Remove from the heat and let it stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Gently fluff the mixture with a fork, being careful not to break up the potatoes.

  6. Transfer the dish to a serving bowl, sprinkle it with the toasted sesame seeds, and serve with the remaining soy sauce mixture for drizzling.

For more recipes, you can visit Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes

Q: What is goguma-bap?

A: Goguma-bap is a Korean dish that combines sweet potatoes with short-grain rice and a sweet-spicy soy-based dressing, creating a hearty and flavorful side dish.

Q: Can I use regular red pepper flakes instead of Korean gochugaru?

A: Yes, you can use regular red pepper flakes as a substitute for Korean gochugaru in this recipe without compromising the flavor significantly.

Q: How long does it take to prepare Sweet Potato Brown Rice with Soy and Scallions?

A: The total preparation time for this dish is 50 minutes, with only 10 minutes of active cooking time.

Q: What are the key ingredients for this recipe?

A: The main ingredients include brown rice, scallions or Chinese chives, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, Korean red pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes), honey (or white sugar), sweet potatoes, and sesame seeds.

Q: Can I customize this dish to my taste?

A: Certainly, you can adjust the spice level by varying the amount of red pepper flakes and adapt the sweetness to your preference by adjusting the honey or sugar quantity. Additionally, you can experiment with different types of rice for subtle flavor variations.

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CookingFan123 November 23, 2023 - 7:43 am

sounds yummy! where i find korean peper flakes?

SesameLover November 23, 2023 - 6:06 pm

Dont forget the sesame seeds, they make it awesome!

HealthyEater November 23, 2023 - 9:46 pm

Brown rice choice is gud for health. Nutty flavor rocks!

FoodieExpert November 24, 2023 - 3:45 am

Love how they mix sweet potatoes with rice, super delish.

SpiceMaster November 24, 2023 - 4:09 am

Korean gochugaru adds da best heat, try it if u can!


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