Sigumchi Namul / Korean Spinach

Well, this post started out as a simple recipe but has become something else so that’s how I’m going to write it. I don’t know if it’s a story, an adventure or just a learning experience but it’s definitely more than recipe now. Sigumchi namul is a Korean spinach banchan, or side dish. It is also used as an ingredient in kimbop (e.g. California rolls) and bibimbap (a Korean rice dish).

I know I told a few of you I was going to write a cookbook but I decided at least not at this time. Right now, I’m really into food photography and I thought what better way to learn food photography then to post recipes on my blog? Besides, what I really wanted to do was share these recipes with my friends and family and I don’t need a cookbook to do that so that’s what I’m going to do.

Total time: 15-20 minutes

1lb container pre-washed spinach
sesame oil
garlic powder
sesame seeds (optional)

At first I tried to use my iPhone to take the photos that show how to cook sigumchi but that didn’t work, they were terrible! I wanted to do the photos right, mostly because if I say I’m a photographer, I better have some damn good photos and besides it’s great practice!

Preparation and Cooking

1) Take a 5 quart dutch oven and fill it with about a 1/2 an inch to an inch of water.
2) Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt and set the burner on high to boil.
3) When the water boils, add the spinach. The spinach will cook very quickly, you will need to use a spoon or chopsticks to make sure both sides of the spinach are cooked. You want the spinach to look like this:

Sigumchi 1

Look at the nice deep color of organic spinach!

4) Turn off the burner. Dump spinach in a colander to drain the water.
5) After the water is drained, place in a mixing bowl.

Sigumchi 2

6) A little bit of sesame oil goes a long way, so you should only use about 2-3 tablespoons for one pound of spinach, just enough to fully coat it.

Sigumchi 3

At this point I started to doubt myself. I peeked on the internet for other sigumchi recipes and I wondered if my recipe was correct. I talked to a girl with a Korean mom. I called my mom. I realized my mom was making sigumchi differently now with this briny fish soy sauce that I didn’t like at all so I wasn’t going to use her new way. Time to do some experimenting on my own and this is what I discovered…

7) Adding a pinch of sugar, takes some of the bitterness out of the spinach so I added that.

8) I used about a half a teaspoon of dried garlic powder and I liked it, so I added that.

9) For photography purposes, I added the sesame seeds. I think it makes sigumchi look more appetizing but taste wise, I think it’s too much sesame flavor, which is why I wrote “optional” in the ingredients section.

Sigumchi Namul

Sigumchi namul can be served hot or cold. I prefer cold. You don’t have to eat it right away either. It will keep for about three days.

Have a great week everyone!



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