This is the second installment out of an eBooklet series of four, which separates the recipes by country. The complete series, titled Asian Pickles, will come together in a hardcover book, which will be on sale in March 2014.
Korean pickles are known for their spicy, bold flavors, and this recipe for Spinach with Sesame is perfectly pungent, but also has hints of sweetness. This pickle is a perfect way to introduce those who normally aren’t big on greens to a whole new flavor profile. For this recipe, make sure you don’t use baby spinach, because it will turn out too watery.
Spinach with Sesame (Sigeumchi Namul)
From Asian Pickles: Korea by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed Press, 2013)
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 52
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. Kept covered and refrigerated, this banchan will keep up to 4 days.