This Korean zucchini side dish is called hobak bokkeum. Although the name translates as “zucchini stir-fry,” it is made by a quick simmering rather than stir-frying. This easy and quick side dish makes a homestyle banchan that any Korean food lover will enjoy.
Korean cuisine is great for using seasonal vegetables to create scrumptious side dishes. This Korean zucchini side dish (hobak bokkeum, 호박볶음) is one dish that I adore in the late summer. It is my personal favorite when it comes to the side dishes made with zucchini.
What is Korean Zucchini?
Korean summer zucchini has round and vibrant green color on the surface with a pale yellow inside. It’s firm to the touch and has distinctive seeds in the center. The seeds are soft and mellow, so there’s no need to remove them. Korean zucchini is widely used for quick soups and stir-fried dishes, and it is great for making zucchini pancakes.
If you are able to get Korean round zucchinis, I urge you to try my Korean spicy pork and zucchini stew recipe. It is a famous stew dish in the Korean southwest region (Jolla province) and very satisfying (if you don’t mind the heat!).
BTW, the Korean word for zucchini is “hobak” and it can indicate zucchini (ae-hobak), squash, or even pumpkin, depending on the dish. This particular Korean zucchini side dish is for the round zucchini that is common in Korea during the summer. You can certainly use western zucchini or squash for this recipe if you don’t have access to the Korean zucchinis.
What Does This Korean Zucchini Side Dish Taste Like?
The round Korean zucchini is quickly simmered with onion, dried anchovies, salted shrimps, and fresh chilies. The Korean name for this dish, hobak bokkeum, implies that it is stir-fried (bokkeum), but the reality is that there is no stir-frying in the preparation at all. (Some Korean cooks do stir-fry this dish, but I find it unnecessary.)
The quick simmering with dried anchovies and salted shrimp infuses a depth of pungent savoriness to the dish along with the natural subtle sweetness from the zucchini. I particularly love the sauce that comes from the cooking and enjoy drizzling it over my rice. Delicious!
My mother always made her zucchini this way and honestly, I think it is the best. It’s rustic, homey, and so easy and quick to make. If you are accustomed to rustic taste of Korean dishes, you will love this dish.
Ingredients you will need:
- Korean round zucchini or western zucchini/squash
- dried anchovies
- salted shrimp
- Korean soup soy sauce (guk-ganjang)
- Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
- perilla oil or sesame oil
- fresh chili
How to Make Korean zucchini side dish (hobak bokkeum)
Step 1. Prep the vegetables and anchovies
Dice zucchini into bite-size pieces. Remove the head and de-vein the anchovies. Split the anchovies in half.
Step 2. Lay vegetables and anchovies in a pot
Put onion and the anchovies in a pot. Add the zucchini and fresh chilies on top of onion.
Step 3. Make sauce and sprinkle over the zucchini
In a small mixing bowl, combine Korean chili flakes, salted shrimp, garlic, Korean soup soy sauce, and perilla oil (or sesame oil); mix well. Drizzle the sauce over zucchini.
Step 4. Add water and simmer
Pour 1/2 cup of water in the mixing bowl, swirl around to collect all the remaining sauce and pour it over the zucchini. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add chopped green onion at the end and stir well.
Serving and Storage Suggestion
Serve warm or at room temperature with rice. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds or until slightly warm.
Check out other Korean side dishes. Some of my favorites are:
Korean Zucchini Side Dish
- 1 round Korean zucchini or 2 small zucchini diced
- 1/2 medium onion sliced
- 6-7 medium dried anchovies head removed and de-veined
- 1 fresh red chili optional
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 green onion finely chopped
- Put onion and the anchovies in a pot. Add the zucchini and fresh chilies on top of onion.
- To make the seasoning sauce, combine Korean chili flakes, salted shrimps, garlic, Korean soup soy sauce (or tuna sauce), and perilla oil (or sesame oil) in a small mixing bowl; mix well. Drizzle the sauce over zucchini.
- Pour 1/2 cup of water in the sauce mixing bowl, swirl around to collect all the remaining sauce and pour it over the zucchini. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add chopped green onion at the end and stir well.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with rice. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds or until slightly warm.