Appetizers and side dishes play a key role in Korean cuisine, and this recipe has everything you need to make a particular tasty side -- seasoned spinach “salad.” Spinach was the vegetable that Popeye relied on to stay strong, and for good reason, the food is chock full of iron. With more of the nutrient than some animal proteins, spinach is one of the heartiest plant-based foods you can eat. So take assurance in the fact that this dish isn't another empty salad with nutrient deficient foods like iceberg lettuce.
The other great thing about this spinach salad, known as sigumchi namul in Korean, is that if you don't want to serve it as a side, you can use it as part of other well-known main dishes in Korea. Seasoned spinach salad may be used to go along with chapchae (stir fried noodles), kimbap (rice and seaweed rolls), and bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables). In short, sigumchi namul is a truly versatile food.
Like many other Korean dishes, this side is also easily customizable. So, if you want to use more or less of any of the ingredients, depending on your unique tastes, feel free to do so. Those with health concerns, for example, may want to use less soy sauce (or a low-sodium version) or less sugar. The choice is yours.
- 1 lb. of spinach
- 2 tbsp. of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. of sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. of sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp. of sesame salt*
- 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 2 tsp. of sugar
- To begin making the salad, blanch the spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds.
- Then, you'll need to remove the spinach quickly and rinse it in cold water. The easiest way to do this might be putting the spinach in a colander, turning on your kitchen faucet and then letting the water run over it.
- After you rinse the spinach, gently squeeze the vegetable to remove excess water. You can also try to shake the excess water from the spinach in the colander, if you don't have the time or inclination to do so by hand.
- Once you've squeezed the spinach from the water, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, seeds, salt, garlic and sugar, and mix all of these ingredients into the spinach. Use more or fewer of these ingredients depending on your preference or the preference of those dinner guests to which you plan to serve the salad. You can also tweak the ingredients depending on if you plan to serve the dish alone or as part of another dish, such as bibimbap. You can also double or triple the recipe and serve some salad alone, and then reserve the remainder to serve as part of an entree in the next day or so.
* If you don't have sesame salt, you can add 1 teaspoon of salt and an additional 2 teaspoons of soy sauce)