A 10-minute recipe, this Korean spinach side dish (sigeumchi namul) is vegan and plant-based and ever so delicious. A must have Korean side dish to add to the long list of traditional banchan.
- Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
- What Is Sigeumchi Namul?
- Difference Between Korean Spinach and Regular Spinach?
- How Long Can You Store Sigeumchi Namul?
- Recipe Overview
- Variations and Substitutions
- Great Mains for This Side Dish
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Korean Side Dishes Recipes (Banchan 반찬)
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
Vegetable based dishes in Korean cuisine is an essential part of their diet. What I love most about most of these side dishes (Korean banchan) is that they explore such a wide array of vegetables, herbs, roots, tubers, sprouts and mushrooms.
They are then prepared in their own unique way with some staple flavours throughout many of them, such as minced garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds, gochugaru and gochujang.
Vegetables form an imperative part of their meal, and it would be incomplete without some signature Korean side dishes such as this Korean spinach side dish. In fact, Koreans are one of the highest consumers of vegetables in the world.
It’s no fuss, small in portion and gives you just that little something extra you may have needed to accompany your meal. It doesn’t have to be a Korean meal either. I have made this many times for non-Korean dinners, especially when I’m in a rush during the week.
What Is Sigeumchi Namul?
“Sigeumchi” is the Korean word for spinach, while “namul” is the generic term to describe a seasoned vegetable dish.
Apart from sigeumchi namul being a staple in the repertoire of Korean banchan for Korean BBQ or bibimbap, it is one of the traditional Korean side dishes made during Korean holidays such as the Lunar New Year or mid-autumn festival.
During these traditional feasts, samsaek namul is often prepared. Samsaek namul is the term used to describe 3 namul dishes of 3 different colours. “Sam” in Korean denotes 3, while “saek” means colour. I was fascinated to learn this as it’s exactly how you say it in Cantonese too!
The 3 varieties of samsaek namul include gosari namul, fiddlehead ferns for dark brown/black, doraji namul for bellflower roots for white and of course, sigeumchi namul represents green.
Difference Between Korean Spinach and Regular Spinach?
There are 2 different types of Korean spinach. There is winter spinach which is smaller with thicker leaves and pink roots. They can withstand the harsh Korean winters. The summer spinach is much the same as Western spinach, with tender leaves and a longer stem.
Koreans also love to eat “seomcho” or island green spinach or also known as “pohangcho” spinach, which is named after its place of origin, the coastal city of Pohang.
This spinach is small but has been touted to be very sweet. So if you’re able to get your hands on these, they would be great for making this Korean spinach side dish or our Marinated Japanese Mushroom Salad with Sesame Spinach.
How Long Can You Store Sigeumchi Namul?
You can store sigeumchi namul in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Please bring this Korean spinach side dish to room temperature before serving.
Flavour/Texture: Where you’re using Korean spinach or Western spinach, spinach blanched takes on a whole different texture. Spinach blanched completely softens the stems and leaves, and the best part is that it only takes 30 seconds! After that, it is tender and soft.
The overwhelming flavour of this spinach banchan is from sesame oil. This aromatic oil makes everything taste better! Add some scallions and minced garlic for the perfect finish.
Ease: A very simple vegan side dish to make. A quick blanch of the spinach, squeeze the water out and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
Time: This seasoned Korean spinach side dish only takes 10 minutes! The blanching part only takes 30 seconds, so it’s nice and easy!
Ingredients you will need to make Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul.
Spinach: You can use Korean spinach or regular Western spinach for this spinach recipe. Just be sure to thoroughly remove all the dirt from it before blanching.
Scallion or green onion: You can use either scallions or green onions. Use the green onion if you want a really good punch!
Garlic: Mince the garlic properly or get the premade minced garlic in a jar. Helpful if you’re going to be making a ton of Korean banchan!
Sesame oil: It is preferable to use Korean sesame oil. It is lighter in colour and has a slightly softer flavour compared to the Chinese sesame oil.
Sesame seeds: Toasted sesame seeds are required for this spinach banchan. You can purchase pre-toasted sesame seeds from the Korean store to save on time.
Salt: Some people like this quite salty. Start with ½ tsp and go from there and adjust to taste.
Pepper: To taste
Step by step instructions for how to make Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul.
Cut the roots off and discard. Wash the spinach thoroughly.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the spinach for around 30 seconds.
Remove the spinach and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process.
Grab a handful of spinach, place them between the palm of your hands and squeeze as much water out as possible. Continue until it is all done. You’ll be amazed at how much water you can extract!
Put all the spinach together and cut into thirds.
Chop the whole sprig of scallion or green onion.
Mince enough garlic to yield 1 tsp.
In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Variations and Substitutions
Which spinach? You can use either Korean spinach or regular Western spinach for this recipe. Baby spinach leaves would work, too, if you prefer not to worry about cleaning them properly.
Scallion or green onion? You can use either scallions or green onion for this spinach side dish. Green onions are used widely in Korean cuisine and are perfect if you love the strong taste of the onion.
Using pre-packed garlic: You can either choose to mince your own garlic or use the Korean minced garlic that comes in a jar. It is really quite good!
Spicy version: If you want to make a spicy version of this Korean spinach side dish, add a tbsp or 2 of gochujang (Korean red chili paste).
Great Mains for This Side Dish
How to serve Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul.
Bibimbap: Bibimbap means “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables”. Served on rice, it is one of the best ways to use up leftover Korean banchan and meat after a big night of Korean BBQ.
Samgyeopsal gui (grilled pork strips): A truly famous dish, synonymous with Korea cuisine, samgyeopsal is usually served up with an array of Korean banchan. Samgyeopsal is unmarinated, grilled strips of pork belly. Once grilled, they are then dipped into a seasoning of salt and pepper with sesame oil and then wrapped in lettuce with garlic and green onion.
Beef bulgogi: Bulgogi is the most popular Korean Grilled BBQ Beef dish that is made from marinated thin slices of beef that’s traditionally grilled over an open flame. It is sweet and salty with garlicky soy sauce. Best served with a few Korean side dishes and steaming hot rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spinach reduces significantly once it has been blanched, and it is always so challenging to work out how much uncooked spinach you would need for a dish.
As a guide, to yield 1 cup of cooked spinach, you will need approximately 1 pound or 450g of uncooked spinach.
If you want to make a spicy version of this Korean spinach side dish, add 1 or 2 tbsp of gochujang (red chili paste). It is extremely flavoursome, but I suggest that you add the salt after you add the gochujang. Gochujang paste already contains salt, so you don’t want to overdo it.
Yes, you can steam the spinach instead of blanching to make Sigeumchi namul. In fact, steaming is a much healthier way to eat spinach as its nutrients are better retained.
However, you will still need to remove the excess water from the spinach even though it wasn’t dipped in water. This is because the condensation process still makes the vegetable wet. Once cooled, place the spinach between the palm of your hands and squeeze until all the water is removed.
This plant-based and dairy free spinach side dish is incredibly easy to make, and it’s a Korean side dish that can be enjoyed at any time. A quick blanch and a mix of some quintessential Korean flavours, and you’ll have a side dish ready to go in 10-minutes. Couldn’t ask for more!
More Korean Side Dishes Recipes (Banchan 반찬)
Here are more Korean side dishes you can make at in the comfort of your own kitchen:
- Korean Zucchini Side Dish – Hobak Bokkeum (호박 볶음)
- Korean Pickles in Soy Sauce – Jangajji (장아찌)
- Korean Braised Potatoes – Gamja Jorim (감자조림)
- Korean Cucumber Salad – Oi Muchim (오이무침)
- Korean Radish Salad – Musaengchae (무생채)
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Korean Spinach Side Dish – Sigeumchi Namul (시금치나물)
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- Cut the roots off and discard. Wash the spinach thoroughly.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the spinach for around 30 seconds.
- Remove the spinach and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Grab a handful of spinach, place them between the palm of your hands and squeeze as much water out as possible. Continue until it is all done.
- Put all the spinach together and cut into thirds.
- Chop the whole sprig of scallion or green onion.
- Mince enough garlic to yield 1 tsp.
- In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- You can use either Korean spinach or regular Western spinach for this recipe. Baby spinach leaves would work, too, if you prefer not to worry about cleaning them properly.
- You can use either scallions or green onion for this spinach side dish. Green onions are used widely in Korean cuisine and perfect if you love the strong taste of the onion.
- You can either mince your own garlic or use the Korean minced garlic that comes in a jar. It is really quite good!
- If you want to make a spicy version of this Korean spinach side dish, add a tbsp or 2 of gochujang (Korean red chili paste).
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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