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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.