Korean Marinated Spinach Banchan (Sigeumchi Namul) Recipe

If you have any spinach skeptics in your life, this simple Korean side dish (banchan) will turn them into believers.

A small earthenware bowl of Korean marinated spinach.
Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Quickly blanching and then shocking spinach in ice water wilts it lightly without turning it to mush and preserves its green color and fresh flavor.
  • Wringing out water from the spinach allows it to then soak up the flavorful sesame dressing that it's marinated in.
  • This banchan can be made days in advance, making it a perfect side dish for entertaining.

Sigeumchi namul is a classic Korean banchan of blanched spinach marinated in a garlic- and sesame-scented dressing. Served at cool room temperature, this side dish is light and refreshing, perfect alongside spicy Korean barbecue, hot and cheesy fire chicken, warming knife-cut noodle soup, a hearty bossam spread, or as part of any simple weeknight dinner.

This recipe not only comes together in minutes, but it also can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days. So whether you need some more greenery in your bringing-lunch-from-home routine or an easy, tasty side dish for your next dinner party, sigeumchi namul has got you covered.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serves: 2 to 3 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound (2 bunches; 450g) mature spinach, bottom 1/2 inch of stems trimmed, leaves washed well and drained (see note)

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) unseasoned rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon (15g; 15ml) doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) honey

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon (2g) freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 medium garlic clove (5g), finely grated

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) toasted sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons (20g) toasted sesame seeds

  • 2 scallions (40g), sliced 1/4 inch thick on a bias

Directions

  1. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. In a medium or large pot of salted boiling water, cook spinach until lightly wilted but still vibrantly green, about 30 seconds. Immediately transfer spinach to prepared ice bath to rapidly chill.

  2. Once spinach is fully chilled, drain it; empty the ice bath bowl, wipe it dry, and set aside. Using clean hands, wring out as much water from spinach as possible, doing your best not to mangle and tear the greens. Transfer to cutting board, and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

  3. In the now-empty large bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, doenjang, honey, fish sauce, black pepper, and garlic. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in sesame oil until emulsified.

  4. Using clean hands, fold spinach into dressing, separating any clumps and gently massaging dressing into greens until spinach is evenly coated all over, about 30 seconds. Add scallions and sesame seeds, and using hands, fold into spinach until well-combined, about 15 seconds. Taste, and adjust seasoning with additional salt if needed. Divide between small individual serving bowls, or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Notes

Mature spinach, whether curly or flat-leaf, is critical for this dish. Avoid baby spinach at all costs, which turns mushy when cooked.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The marinated spinach can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
189 Calories
12g Fat
16g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 189
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 689mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 18mg 91%
Calcium 279mg 21%
Iron 7mg 37%
Potassium 805mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)