Spinach with Sesame (Sigeumchi Namul)
(from Asian Pickles Korea)
Is there someone in your house who won’t touch their greens? This pickle-ish, pungent side dish is a way to make them irresistible. The recipe is pretty straightforward, but I must implore you: don’t use the bags of prewashed baby spinach meant for salads. I mean, you can, but you will likely not be as happy with the results; the dish will end up too watery and bland, as it’s very difficult to squeeze those tiny baby leaves dry. Seek out dirty ol’ bunches of grown-up spinach with the roots attached for the best results. Makes 3 cups
TIME: 30 MINUTES
- 1 pound 6 ounces fresh bunched spinach
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 6 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons black sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Korean chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, wash the spinach by soaking it thoroughly in a basin or sink full of water, swirling it with vigor and making sure to leave the root ends attached. Wash thoroughly as needed to ensure that the spinach gets really clean (spinach with the roots attached often hides dirt in the darndest places). Allow the washed spinach to drain in a colander.
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the sesame seeds until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the seeds immediately into a medium-sized mixing bowl to cool. Add the garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, sugar, and vinegar, and stir to combine.
Once the water is boiling, add the spinach all at once, using a utensil to submerge it in the water and to stir it for even cooking. Cook for 1 minute, just enough so the spinach wilts but retains its bright green color.
Drain the spinach through a colander and immediately rinse with cold water, stirring it with your hands, to cool the spinach and stop its cooking. Working in 4 batches, gather the spinach into bundles. Holding each bundle by its root ends, squeeze the greens to remove the water, starting from the stems and working your way down to the leaves. Squeeze repeatedly and very firmly, until not a drop more liquid can be released. (Really—get in there and SQUEEZE!) Roll up the spinach tightly inside a clean kitchen towel (or two) and squeeze again to truly extract as much moisture from it as possible.
Lay the spinach flat on a cutting board and cut off and discard the root ends. Chop the spinach into 4 equal lengths. Add it to the marinade and toss well to coat. The spinach is now ready to eat.