Sigeumchi Namul Spinach Banchan
Sigeumchi Namul Spinach Banchan

This spiced spinach is a Korean banchan classic. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients: blanched spinach, garlic, scallions, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and just a little bit of sugar.

In this recipe

  • The best spinach for this banchan
  • Tips and tricks for making spiced spinach
  • Exchange and substitution of ingredients
  • variations
  • serving suggestions
  • Storage Instructions
  • More recipes for using spinach

Siguemchi Namul is a Korean Spiced Spinach. It’s garlicky, slightly salty and sweet, hints of onion and nutty from the sesame seeds and sesame oil. The spinach is blanched, seasoned and served chilled as a refreshing side dish. It is considered a banchan.

Banchan means side dishes in Korean. It is a constant and essential part of Koreans’ daily diet. In Korean restaurants, banchan are often served for free (with free refills, no less). They arrive in small plates and clatter onto the table while being laid out by the waiter.

While the most well-known banchan is probably kimchi, there are so many varieties. They range from simple dishes like this spinach banchan to more hearty fare like kimchi, savory jeon pancakes, Korean-style macaroni salad, sweet and sticky fried anchovies, and spicy marinated raw crab.

Spinach is a family favorite for a number of reasons. It’s quick and easy to do. From a health perspective, spinach shrinks significantly when cooked, making it easy to overeat without even realizing it. It’s a welcome contrast to the often spicy and bold dishes like kimchi jjigae (Korean kimchi stew). Most importantly, my son will eat it.

The best spinach for this banchan

I prefer to use ripe spinach over baby spinach. The thick stems and sturdy leaves provide different textures and can be blanched. I find baby spinach too tender for this dish.

Ripe spinach traps a lot of dirt, so be sure to wash it several times. Fill a very large bowl with cold water. Cut off the root ends of the spinach – although your spinach will have pink ends attached at the bottom, you can leave these intact and just cut off a small piece.

Add the spinach to the water and swish it around with your hand so the dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl. If there isn’t enough room in the bowl to toss the spinach well, wash it in batches or use your sink.

Place the spinach in a colander to drain. As you scoop the spinach out of the water, try to be careful not to stir up the water and dirt at the bottom of the bowl. Pour out the dirty water and repeat the process. Rinse the spinach again until no sediment remains in the bowl.

Tips and tricks for making spiced spinach

This dish is meant to be cool and refreshing. It’s quick and easy to make if you prepare well.

  • Make an ice bath and set it by the side of the pot of boiling water. Spinach cooks quickly and the blanching time is short, around 10 seconds. You want to keep these greens as fresh and bright as possible by submerging them in the ice bath right after cooking.
  • Blanch the spinach in batches. Using tongs, take a bundle, dip it in the boiling water, and then in the ice bath. If you don’t make a small batch, they will overcook if you add them to the pot all at once.
  • Asian markets already sell toasted sesame seeds in plastic canisters, which are much cheaper than the small jars you can find at your local supermarket. Keeping them in your freezer will keep them fresher for longer.

Exchange and substitution of ingredients

While many recipes call for both soy sauce and salt, I prefer to use only salt. Feel free to experiment with a little soy sauce. You could also substitute honey for sugar, but since it’s stickier, mix all the spices together before tossing with the spinach to distribute it evenly.


For a spicy version, add gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) to taste. You can also experiment with other vegetables and prepare them the same way:

  • watercress
  • bean sprouts
  • Steamed Eggplant

serving suggestions

Spinach is served simply with rice and roasted seaweed or together with many other banchan for a large meal. It can also be used as a vegetable topping for the classic Korean rice bowl, bibimbap, as one of the vegetables in the Korean glass noodle dish, japchae, or as one of the fillings in seaweed-wrapped rice rolls, kimbap.

Storage Instructions

Although this spinach recipe is best eaten the day it is made, it will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for a day or two.

More recipes for using spinach

  • Pressure Cooker Saag Tofu (Indian Spinach and Tofu)
  • Green Goddess Mac and Cheese
  • Simply sautéed spinach
  • Cheese Hash Brown Egg Bites
  • Creamed spinach with bacon

Sigeumchi Namul (Spinach Banchan)

preparation time
15 minutes

cooking time
1 min

total time
16 minutes

up to 6 servings


  • 2 large grapes (14 ounces) spinachflushed

  • 3 spring onionsthinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlicfinely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame

  • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Boil water and prepare ice bath:

    Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Prepare a large ice bath. Place it on the counter next to the pot.

  2. Blanch the spinach:

    Using tongs, dip the spinach in batches into the pot of boiling water. Swirl it around until the spinach is light green and the stalks are slightly softened, about 10 seconds.

    Immediately transfer the blanched spinach to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Toss the spinach in the ice bath to fluff it up. Repeat until all of the spinach is cooked and cooled.

  3. Dry spinach:

    Drain the spinach in a colander in the sink. Working in batches, grab a handful of spinach with your hands and wring out as much water as possible. Place the dried spinach on a cutting board.

  4. Chop Spinach:

    Roughly chop the spinach into bite-sized pieces. Transfer the spinach to a medium-sized bowl and loosen it with your fingers if it’s clumped together.

  5. Season spinach:

    Add spring onions, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sugar and salt. Throw to combine. Taste and decide if you want to add more salt or leave it as is.

  6. Surcharge:

    Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

nutritional information (per serving)
88 calories
6g Fat
8g carbohydrates
4g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!