Nakji Bokkeum 낙지볶음 (Spicy Octopus Stir Fry)

We finally got to enjoy a spicy seafood dish when we found some frozen octopus at the local Asian market. Instead of making a visit to the local Korean store–which is handicapped with bad produce, limited ingredients, and overpricing–we have been lucky enough to find more and more Korean ingredients being stocked at the Asian market (if they started carrying kimchi then we would be happy campers). As for this particular dish, nakji bokkeum (spicy stir-fried octopus), this is a popular dish for those who love seafood and spicy food, a combination that can make this dish quite addicting. For our version, it’s pretty basic except for the fact that we added somyeon (thin noodles) and extra, extra sauce. Most Koreans will attest and acknowledge that the combination of spicy sauce and plain, soft rice go perfect together. Many restaurants in Korea save this leftover sauce and make an entirely new “post-meal” dish in the form of bokkeumbap (fried rice), consisting of rice, gim (seaweed), sesame oil and said sauce. If you are one of those people who can’t handle or dislike the chewiness of octopus, substituting with squid is a nice alternative. Lastly, this dish can get pretty spicy even for Koreans. For a milder version, go ahead and slash the spicy ingredients (gochujang and gochugaru) in half and it should be bearable. For those who like to sweat it out while eating, go ahead and add some chungyang gochu (Korea’s spiciest chili pepper) to the mix! 🙂


Servings: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Marinade time: 30~60 minutes (optional)


  • 1 lb octopus, de-gutted and cleaned
  • 1 small onion, sliced into strips
  • 2 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 red or green chili peppers, sliced diagonally
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3, 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • somyeon (thin noodles; optional)
  • shiitake mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (garnish)
  • green onion (garnish)


  1. If using frozen octopus, allow to defrost at room temperature until ready for use. Wash and rinse octopus under cold water. Cut the legs/tentacles into 2-3 inch lengths. Cut open head and shave off insides with a knife. Rinse off ink and other remains, cut into strips.
  2. Cut all vegetables into 2 or 3 inch strips and set aside until marinade/sauce is made. Save the green onions separately and add near the end of cooking.
  3. Prepare and mix all ingredients for sauce in a mixing bowl. For extra spiciness, add extragochujang (red pepper paste) or chili peppers of your liking.
  4. Combine spicy sauce with octopus and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is an optional step that can be skipped if time is limited.
  5. Heat a non-stick pan on high heat, cook for about 5~7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the octopus pieces about halfway through as they cook quickly. Note: overcooking octopus or squid will make them taste chewy and slightly rubbery!
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or green onion. Serve with somyeon or warm rice and enjoy!

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