June 19, 2012
Banchan - Korean Spinach Salad (Sigeumchi Namul)
Banchan isn't actually the real name of this dish. A banchan is actually several different types of foods served in small bowls alongside a larger rice dish. There is a wide variety of dishes that can be served alongside the rice, each with their own unique way of being cooked or served. I guess it can be compared to eating a fajita in a restaurant. You simply add ingredients to your tortilla and away you go!
This particular dish is actually referred to as Sigeumchi Namul, which translates into a blanched spinach dish with a garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. And just like people prepare their fajita toppings differently, there are several different versions of how to make a Sigeumchi Namul Banchan.
For the sake of my uneducated and unexplored self, I will simply refer to this dish in my house as Spinach Banchan. Make sense? I hope so, because I don't want to have to try to pronounce Sigeumchi Namil everytime my fiance wants me to remake this dish.
And ask me to remake it she will. For such a simple dish (cooked in under 5 minutes), I was not expecting the burst of flavour that went alongside it! The spinach soaks up all the sauce and your first bite is actually juicy and flavour-packed. It is completely different than any salad you will have had before!
I unfortunately don't have any sesame oil or sesame seeds, so I had to adapt this recipe a bit to suit what I had in my larder. However, it worked out so well I may just keep this recipe and not bother with any other adaptations! Also, as a word of warning, spinach shrinks a lot, so adjust accordingly. This meal was just enough to feed the two of us. I should also mention that I wanted to add this wonderful garlic chili paste I have (called gochujang), but I am currently out of stock and had to adjust for that as well.
I hope you like it!
Spinach - 4-6 massive handfuls
Soy Sauce - 2 Tbsps
Fish Sauce - 1 tbsp
Chili Sauce - 1 tbsp (omit and replace if you have gochujang)
Garlic - 1 tbsp, minced
Start with bringing a large pot to boil on the stove. Add the spinach and stir in for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until blanched and the spinach is starting to wilt. Remove from the stove and drain, then place the spinach in cold water. Drain again after a few minutes, then squeeze out all of the water. Place in a bowl and separate the spinach leaves.
In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce and garlic. Once well stirred, add to the spinach. Massage the mixture into the leaves but don't squeeze the liquid out. You want the leaves to be well coated with the sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.