Korean Spinach Side Dish, also known as "Sigeumchi Namul" in Korean. A very easy and quick Korean spinach salad seasoned with a delicious garlicky sesame soy sauce. Ready in 10 minutes!
What is Siguemchi Namul?
In translation, the Korean word 'Sigeumchi' means 'spinach' and 'namul' refers to a dish of 'seasoned vegetables or leaves'. Siguemchi Namul is made of fresh spinach blanched in large pot of boiling water. Then the cooked spinach is cooled with cold running water or ice water. The handful of spinach is squeezed of most of its water content. Then seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic and sugar.
How is it eaten?
It's usually enjoyed cold or at room temperature. It's a tasty side dish in Korean cooking with much flavor and is enjoyed with a hot bowl of rice with other banchans. A great way in Korean cuisine to get more fiber into your diet! I share other banchans linked below.
In addition, this Korean food is a popular Korean banchan (in English, 'banchan' means 'side dish') served at many Korean restaurants in South Korea. You'll also find this Korean spinach dish served in traditional bibimbap, kimbap or in a Korean meal on its own. It became very popular on social media with content creators (like me) sharing how to make it.
Easy Korean Spinach Recipe
This seasoned vegetable dish can be made in at least 10-15 minutes! A quick and easy way to get in your greens for dinner, lunch, Also, this delicious recipe works well for meal prep too as you can store it in the fridge for 3-4 days and take small portions of it for your meal.
I love making this Korean spinach recipe as it’s so simple and easy to make at home with minimal ingredients. You’re simply blanching the chopped spinach in hot boiling water for 30 seconds, straining it and rinsing with cold water (or transferring to an ice bath). Then squeezing excess liquids out and seasoning with a very simple 5 ingredient sauce – that it’s!
This is one of those Korean dishes that is vegan! If you're plant-based, then you may enjoy this vegan side dish as it is flavorful and doesn't contain any animal products.
You’ll need the below ingredients for this Korean spinach side dish recipe. Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Most Asian grocery stores will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Regular spinach: Western spinach or Chinese spinach is the type of spinach I would recommend for this recipe as it has a longer stem. We want mature spinach with thick stems and large thicker leaves.
- Baby spinach is a kind of spinach that could work but because it's missing longer stems and has thinner leaves, it could lead a mushy side dish, so you'll have to reduce the blanching time.
- Salt: to season our cooking water spinach as it blanches in the water.
- Regular soy sauce: or sub with Korean soup soy sauce if you have it. If you're gluten-free, substitute with coconut aminos, tamari sauce or any gluten-free soy sauce. Regular soy sauce aka all-purpose soy sauce. The label will simply say "soy sauce". This is different from dark soy sauce, which is darker in color and thicker in viscosity. You may also substitute with light soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce. The Asian market will carry this ingredient.
- Toasted sesame oil: make sure it's the toasted kind as this offers more flavor! If you're allergic to sesame, you may substitute with olive oil and omit the sesame seeds. The Asian grocery store will carry this ingredient.
- Toasted sesame seeds: these add a wonderful nutty flavor to our greens.
- Garlic: to add that iconic garlicky flavor found in many namul dishes.
- Sugar: to balance out the salty flavors from the soy sauce. You may substitute with honey or maple syrup.
- Korean chili flakes or Korean chili paste: add about 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (aka gochugaru) or red pepper paste (gochujang) to make a spicy version.
- Chopped green onion or spring onions: as an additional and flavorful garnish.
How to make Korean Spinach side dish
Below are brief steps with visuals to show you how to make Korean spinach. Please scroll down to the recipe card below to find full instructions and details.
Chop your spinach into 2-inch-long pieces.
In a large bowl, wash your spinach at least 4-5 times in cold running water to remove a lot of dirt. The water should run green but clear at the bottom of the bowl. Strain the water.
In a medium size pot filled with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Blanch spinach for no more than 30 seconds.
Quickly strain the spinach and rinse with cold water until the spinach is cold to touch.
Drain the cold water. With clean hands, gather the spinach into a ball and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer spinach to a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine sauce ingredients.
Last step: pour sauce over spinach and mix with clean hands. Serve and enjoy!
This Korean spinach side dish will last up to 3-4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. There's no need to reheat it as it can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
Below are tips on making Korean seasoned spinach:
Blanch only for 30 seconds
Since spinach is a very thin leaf, this will only take 30 seconds for it to cooked and retain its nutrients. Don’t overcook it or the spinach leaves will disintegrate easily.
Stop cooking process with cold water.
Use very cold water to rinse your spinach after straining it. This helps to stop the cooking process.
Squeeze spinach with hands to remove excess water.
Using clean hands are the easiest way to squeeze out any excess water.
Mix sauce before adding to spinach.
Before adding your sauce ingredients to the spinach, you can mix them in a bowl to evenly distribute the ingredients.
Mix with hands.
Mixing the sauce into the spinach with clean hands is also the easiest way to ensure even taste. Our hands are really our best tool!
Below are frequently asked questions about this Korean blanched spinach:
How long can this Korean spinach side dish be stored in the fridge?
This is one of those Korean side dishes that can be stored up to 3-4 days in an airtight container.
Do I need to add sugar?
No, you don’t need to, but it helps to balance out the saltiness. You may substitute with honey or maple syrup for a healthier alternative to white sugar.
Can I use baby spinach?
Yes, but I would reduce the blanching time to 10-20 seconds as they are much smaller and wilt more quickly.
Can I make this gluten-free?
Yes, substitute the soy sauce with coconut aminos, tamari sauce or any gluten-free soy sauce of your choice.
Can I use the same sauce with other vegetables?
Yes, the sauce will work with any leafy greens, like bok choy, yu choy/choy sum, or napa cabbage.
Is Korean spinach good for you?
Yes! This Korean spinach side dish is packed with fiber and delicious nutrients.
Other Korean side dish recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this Korean spinach banchan, you may like these other Korean banchan recipes:
- Gamja Jorim (Korean Braised Potatoes)
- Sukjul Namul (Korean Bean Sprouts Salad)
- Hobak Jeon (Korean Zucchini Fritters)
- Korean Fishcake Stir Fry
- Gyeran Mari Korean Rolled Omelette
- Korean Potato Salad
- Korean Cucumber Salad
Easy 10-min. Korean Spinach Side Dish (Sigeumchi Namul)
- 17 oz spinach (about 2 large bunches)
- 1 teaspoon salt for blanching
- Chop your spinach into 2-inch-long pieces. Removing the roots but keeping the stems.
- In a large bowl, wash your spinach at least 4-5 times in cold running water to remove a lot of dirt. The water should run green but clear at the bottom of the bowl. Strain the water.
- In a medium to large pot filled with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Blanch spinach for no more than 30 seconds.
- Quickly strain the spinach and rinse with cold running water until the spinach is cold to touch. Alternatively, you may transfer spinach to an ice bath.
- Drain the cold water. With clean hands, gather the spinach into a ball and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer spinach to a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine sauce ingredients.
- Pour sauce over spinach and mix with clean hands or tongs. Serve and enjoy!