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Korean spinach my way, Popeye! where are you?

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October 21, 2010

Korean spinach my way, Popeye! where are you?


 As a young kid, I did not care for spinach until I saw a show "Popeye" on TV.  
Oh, Yes! we were able to see "Popeye" show in Korea in the 70th. In my innocent young slender eyes Popeye was a hero, and I truly believed his strength came from eating the spinach from a can. He defeated the naughty Brutus, and saved Olive every time. I loved his steroid injected looking arm..., a symbol of power and strength of a macho man!

 Nobody eats canned spinach in Korea, not even frozen ones. We use fresh spinach every time. It is all year round side dish "Banchan(반찬)" on Korean table.
You will see the spinach Banchan pretty much in every Korean restaurant. All seasoned with salt, some garlic, and sesame oil... Sometimes it gets bland and boring.

 I do make this spinach quite often, but I season differently, and everyone is asking what's in it that makes taste so good. I will reveal my secret for you.

This is my magic powder.
It is "dried shrimps" but in a grounded form. I know some might think adding these shrimp to spinach must be stinky or fishy but I tell you, it is NOT.  It adds very nice flavor but no one can tell it is shrimp. Try it! your spinach won't be that boring anymore.
Besides you can use this in other vegetable Banchan (반찬) and soups to enhance their flavor.

You can buy these dried shrimps in any Asian market these days.
I store them in the freezer.

Just toast these guys until very dry.
Make sure to cool them completely afterward.

Put them in a food processor or spice grinder, and process until finely grounded.
 I wouldn't use coffee grinder unless you want your coffee shrimp flavored.
Hmmmm, shrimp flavored coffee....
Who knows? Anything is possible these days.

You will see some chunks of shrimp but it's O.K la!

Transfer into a pretty jar if you have.
Store them in the cupboard if you live in cool climate.
Store them in a freezer if you live in tropical paradise.

 Now, let's learn how to make the Korean spinach.

 You will need;
spinach, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce (I always use low-sodium),
garlic (fresh or dried), and the shrimp powder.

 First trim and clean the spinach. 
Blanch in the boiling water for 5 seconds.
Don't forget to add salt!

 Drain and rinse with cold water.

 Squeeze out to remove excess water from the spinach.
But not too strong.  You are not Mr. Popeye..., Yet.
It needs to retain its moisture.

 If your spinach is long, slice them.
I don't want you to get choked on by a foot long spinach.

 Add rest of the ingredients and toss with your HAND, not spoon or fork.
 Give a massage to these green goddess.
Massaging motion as you tossing the vegetable is an important skill to master 
in Korean side dishes.

Taste, always...
to see if you need adjust seasoning.
Don't make it too salty, though.

You get to eat more spinach this way than eating spinach salad.
Serve as a side dish to any Asian themed meal.
It is healthy, tasty, and easy.

Feed it to your man,
and check his arms afterward...
You may discover his hidden macho-ness.
Who knows?
He could be the next Mr. Popeye.
He says,
"Hey, leave some comments for me, would ya?"

Korean Spinach
(시금치나물, Sigumchi Namool)
serves 4 as a side dish

1 bunch Spinach, trimmed and cleaned
2 Tb soy sauce (low-sodium)
1 small clove garlic minced or 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1 Tb sesame oil
1 Tb roasted sesame seeds
1 tsp shrimp powder *

Blanch spinach in the boiling water for 5 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the spinach with your hands to remove excess water with some force but not too strong. It has to be still moist. Slice them if they are too long.

Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well with a hand with massaging motion so the seasoning can soak into the spinach. Serve as a side dish.

* Shrimp powder
Heat a pan over low heat and toast handful of dried shrimps, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
Let them cool completely. Put them in a food processor or spice grinder, and process until finely grounded. Store in a airtight container avoiding direct sunlight or keep them in the freezer.

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At October 21, 2010 at 12:01 PM , Blogger Yue Jiang said...

wow, i love dried shrimps. but never ground them before. Your spanich looks ssoooooo good! i am gonna give it a try!

At October 21, 2010 at 8:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love the concept of this dish and i love spinach! But i'm vegetarian, so would it really alter the taste if i negated the dried shrimps??

At October 21, 2010 at 8:46 PM , Blogger beyondkimchee said...

I suggest you add dried mushroom in a grounded form instead of dried shrimps. Adding an extra flavor will bring up the dish to another level. And that will make a total vegetarian!

At October 23, 2010 at 4:37 AM , Blogger pigpigscorner said...

This is my favourite banchan! It's so tasty to eat on its own and with rice!

At October 23, 2010 at 5:17 AM , Blogger beyondkimchee said...

and it is so good for you, too.

At October 24, 2010 at 7:37 PM , Anonymous buki said...

the pictures are wonderful. just discovered your blog - love the recipes and am excited to try them. read your "about me" page. i think this is a wonderful way to impart your legacy to your children. you're very inspiring!

At June 6, 2011 at 2:08 AM , Anonymous Joy said...

cool... i love korean food! my college korean friends really taught me how to enjoy this stuff.  Now that i have a family and living in the Philippines, i would like them to learn to appreciate too.  Thanks so much... will be back.

At October 15, 2011 at 10:46 AM , Anonymous Vnhuong said...

im really in love with your blog and the recipes....all are just awesome.your husbanb and kids would be very proud and lucky of having you as a humurous lovely wife and talented mom. thanks for sharing with us and wish u a sweet vacation this fall.xoxo

At May 22, 2012 at 1:32 PM , Anonymous Judy said...

I rarely every sign up for a website, but I've read 2 of your recipes and they sound just like my mom's (except it has measurements, lol). Plus the fact that you are Christian; double bonus ^_^


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