Korean salad dish adapted for local tastebuds.


When I first came across Sigeumchi Namul (Korean spinach salad) some eight years ago at a Korean barbecue, I fell in love with the simple, clean taste of this banchan (side dish).

It’s not easy to come by as it doesn’t keep well, so not many Korean restaurants offer this.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and tried making my own version at home.

There’s a bit more work involved compared to the traditional Chinese-style stirfried spinach or spinach soup, but it’s yummy so it’s well worth the effort.

Separate the bunched-up leaves after squeezing out the water.Separate the bunched-up leaves after squeezing out the water.

The ones served in restaurants seem more flavourful, and I suspect it could be because they add MSG.

I used normal store-bought sesame oil, but if you can get your hands on Korean sesame oil, it will lift the dish as it’s so much more fragrant.

And if you want a bit of heat, add some gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes) to the mixture.

Serve together with other dishes to go with rice, or as a starter banchan. — Contributed by FIONA NG

Mix the spinach with the seasoning ingredients.Mix the spinach with the seasoning ingredients.

Ingredients

1 bunch (approx. 250g) spinach

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp Korean sesame oil

1 tsp ginger wine or freshly grated ginger juice, including pulp

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp toasted black and/or white sesame seeds

1 tsp gochugaru (optional)

Method

1. Wash the spinach thoroughly and ensure there’s no more sand or dirt trapped in between the leaves. Pick the spinach leaves, and leave the hard stems aside. You can save this for vegetable stock later.

2. Blanch the lot in slightly salted water for about two to three minutes, then dunk them in ice water to stop it from cooking further. This makes the vegetables “crunchier”.

3. Squeeze the water out of the cooled spinach and separate the leaves so that they’re not bunched up.

4. Place the spinach in a mixing bowl and toss in the remaining ingredients. Feel free to add additional seasoning to taste.

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