[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

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.

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.
  • Yield:Serves 2 to 4 as a large side dish, or 4 to 6 as a banchan
  • Active time:10 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes
  • 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


    1. 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. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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. 5.

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

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