Kkomak Bibimbap. This was a trending dish during this winter in Seoul! Many of the department stores featured it as a special menu in their food courts, but the lines are always too long. So this weekend, we decided to give a try in our studio kitchen. The dish is all about fresh cockles. Blood cockles to be precise - also known as Kkomak in Korean. They're small, saltwater clams that grow plump and sweet during winters in Korea. By themselves, they taste ok. But if you add gochugaru, soy sauce and maesil, it take the clams to Flavor Town! Better yet, add some rice to the marinade and you got yourself an incredible meal! Allow me to show you how...
This recipe is rated a medium difficulty. There are a few areas where you could make (irreversible) mistakes. I'll highlight them below so you pay extra close attention to them:
- The 1st error is not purging the cockles: Remember to take the time to purge your clams before you start cooking. Nobody want's to bite into sand-y clams 😖
- The 2nd error is overcooking the cockles: If they're boiled for too long, they shrivel-up and turn rubbery. To prevent this, bring a pot of water up to a boil first. Then add-in your cockles and set a timer for 3.5 minutes. After 3.5 minutes, most of the clams will have opened their shells - at least a small opening. Take one clam out and taste it to see if it's fully cooked through.
- The 3rd error is not saving any cockle broth: A few scoops of the broth adds deep flavor to the Soy Sauce Marinade. Make sure to scoop out a ladle of the broth and set it aside before emptying out the pot of boiled clams.
- The 4th error is adding too much Soy Sauce Marinade or Gochugaru when seasoning the cockles: I recommend only adding-in about ⅓ of the Soy Sauce Marinade and 1 Tablespoon of Gochugaru. Start there and mix everything together. Then add a little more if you need
I hope I haven't scared you off with those bolded letters... heh, take it as a challenge!
You'll be rewarded with an incredible dish... 화이팅!
- 1 Cup De-shelled Cockles (buy 800g of fresh cockles)
- 1.5 cups Cooked Rice
Soy Sauce Seasoning
- 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Mirim
- 1 Tablespoon Maesil
- ½ Tablespoon Minced Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Cockle Broth (from boiling)
- 4-5 Shakes of Sesame Seeds
Marinating the Cockles
- 5 stalks of Green Onion
- 2 Whole Cheongyang Chili Peppers (Or use 1 Jalapeno)
- 1 Tablespoon Gochugaru (Add 2 if you like it spicy)
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- A Drizzle of Sesame Oil (to finish marinating the rice)
- 1 Spoonful of Leftover Soy Sauce Seasoning (from above)
Purge the Cockles
- Fill a mixing bowl with cold water. Mix-in a handful of salt with the water. Add the cockles in. Then cover the bowl with some aluminum foil. Let the clams sit in darkness for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the water. Then, give the cockles a thorough rinse and scrub under running water.
Boil the Cockles
- Bring a large pot of water up to boil. When it comes to a roaring boil, add in your cockles. (Set a timer for 3.5 minutes.) Use a wooden spoon and stir the cockles in one direction (this helps the meat stick to one side of the shell). After 3.5 minutes, sample one of the clams and see if it is fully cooked through. If it's not, let it boil for just a bit longer. IMPORTANT: If they are fully cooked, don't drain the pot just yet. Use a soup ladle and take out one scoop of the broth. Set it aside for later - we'll use this broth when making the cockle marinade. Now drain the broth and move the cooked cockles to a large mixing bowl.
- Take the shells off each cockle. I would recommend doing this over a small mixing bowl - that way you can collect some more delicious broth. Note: For shells that don't open easily, use your spoon and pop the back of the shell (reference video). You want enough meat to fill 1 cup.
Make Soy Sauce Marinade
- Throughly mix-in Soy Sauce (3T), Mirim (1T), Maesil (1T), Minced Garlic (½T), Cockle Broth (2T). Give it a good stir. Then add in 4-5 shakes of Sesame Seeds. Stir everything together
Prep Fresh Greens for Cockle Marinade
- Dice your green onion (5 stalks) into small pieces. Then dice your 2 chili peppers into small pieces as well.
Season the Cockles
- Take out another mixing bowl. Add in 1 cup of cooked cockles. Then add in the chopped green onions and chili peppers. Next, add in the gochugaru (1T). Then add-in ⅓ of the Soy Sauce Marinade you made - don't add everything at once! Give it all a good mix - feel free to add more Soy Sauce Marinade or Gochugaru if you need. Finally, finish it off with 1T of Sesame Oil. Give it a final mix.
- Scoop out ⅔ of the seasoned cockles and place it to one-side of your plate. Leave the other ⅓ of the marinated cockles in the mixing bowl. Now, add freshly cooked rice (1.5 cups) into the mixing bowl. Mix until the rice is evenly coated in the marinade. Give the rice a taste. Next, we added 1 additional spoonfuls of the Soy Sauce Marinade into the rice. Feel free to do the same if you'd like. Finally, finish the rice with a drizzle of sesame oil. Give it a final mix!
- Add the mixed rice (bibimbap) to the other side of the plate. Garnish with a few shakes of sesames seeds and sliced green onions. Bon Appetit!