08 March 2011

A different sort of namul

Okay, I give you fair warning: this is absolutely addictive.  But then, “kale namul” is so good for you that it won’t matter if you end up eating a whole batch in one sitting.  Can you ever get an overdose on green vegetables?

One of my all-time favorite banchan (“side dishes” in Korean) is sigeumchi namul (pronounced sheegumchee nahmool): blanched spinach seasoned with a little garlic, soy sauce, and sesame.  When I walked into my local produce store (I love you Tri-County!!) and saw a load of organic kale on sale, I knew I wanted to go and try dressing it up as namul.  And honestly, I think this kale namul is edging out sigeumchi namul in my affections.

Though I love spinach, it often leaves a slight chalky feeling in my mouth (regardless of whether it’s raw or cooked).  Does anyone else ever experience that?  I’m not sure why that is, but it isn’t the nicest way to come away from eating such initially tasty morsels.  With kale, however, I never get that chalky feeling.  Gold star for kale!

The fragrance of this dish is amazing.  There’s a heavenly aroma of sesame oil and soy sauce, followed by hints of the earthy kale and savory onion.  And the texture of the wilted kale (that in raw form is so crinkly) is really fun in the mouth.

As kale is a heartier green than spinach, you’ll want to cook the greens a few minutes longer than indicated in most sigeumchi namul recipes to get to the luscious wilted state.  And you’ll be amazed at how the greens cook down.  Next time, I think I’ll probably double the recipe and keep the leftovers on hand for a second occasion (or not…it might just get finished on the first go-around here!).

Kale namul 케일나물 (Korean Seasoned Kale)
Makes 2 cups
1 pound kale
1 green onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. roasted sesame oil
½ tsp. roasted sesame seeds
Salt, to taste

Wash kale and remove stems.  (This is easily done by holding the stem firmly with one hand and tearing the crinkly lobes of the leaves off the stem.)  Cut any large pieces so that the kale is in 1 to 2-inch size pieces.  Since the kale is so crinkly, you will probably end up with a volume of about 16 cups.

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil, then add the kale.  Stir to submerge the kale, and return water to a boil, then cook about 4 minutes more until kale is tender and has lost its “raw” flavor but is still bright green.

Drain kale in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Gently squeeze the kale to remove as much water as possible, then fluff up the kale with your fingers to loosen the pieces from each other.

Place the kale in a bowl and sprinkle all of the remaining ingredients, except for the sesame seeds, over the kale.  Toss with your hands to thoroughly mix the ingredients, and season with salt to taste.  Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish, serving the kale namul cool or at room temperature.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to give this a try... I never thought to use kale. I've been trying to incorporate more unfamiliar greens into my diet so thanks for the idea!

Lori Lynn said...

Hi Erica - kale namul - what a terrific side dish! Looks so fresh and delicious in your photos.
Congrats on Top 9! Happy to have discovered your blog through foodbuzz!
P.S. I posted namul too :)

erica said...

Thanks Lori! :) Your kongnamul looks beautiful!

Kimberli said...

Yum! I love this dish. I make kale for Thanksgiving each year (it's become a tradition) with olive oil, garlic, kale, toasted pine nuts and salt. Totally addictive as well. I almost didn't make it last year until my friend walked in confirming in a panic that it would be on the table...she had been craving it since last year! :-) Yeah for KALE!

Anonymous said...

Looks gorgeous. So delicious and healthy. I love kale and your recipe makes this simple ingredient more yummy. congrats on top 9.

Unknown said...

Erica - Great idea! I should definitely add this to my list of Korean side dishes.

Susan said...

Yum! I'm always for something a bit different when it comes to wilting kale down for a side ... and it is really good for you a... and cheap where we live!

alyce said...

Love the flavors/textures in this dish. Sounds amazing.

the Junkie book said...

i'm finding it so difficult to believe you coz lemme bite the bitter truth...i hate greens :(

your first photograph is beautiful...i think i've unknowingly copied it for my next post ;P

i've passed an award to you...i know you don do these but i like your blog and felt pressed to do it! feel free to ignore it...what a persistent shameless jury i am!!

erica said...

aw, thanks thoma! :) hope you are doing well!

beyondkimchee said...

Man, you know what you are doing with Korean cooking. I often make Swiss chard or Chinese kale (Kai lan) into Namool. Adding some salt when blanching in the boiling water can help to get rid of the bitter taste from these greens.
Lovely pictures!

erica said...

Thank you Holly! And thanks for that great tip about salting the water!

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