Namul Banchan 나물 반찬 (Seasoned Vegetable Side Dish)

As much as I love healthy namul banchan, the essentials for any Korean meal, I must admit that it’s a pain in the butt to make for our daily meals. Also, I have been super busy experimenting with local Jeju ingredients (e.g. Jeju black pig, fresh seafood, and seaweed varieties to name a few) that I have all but forgotten to post more recipes on these simple yet healthy banchan dishes. Luckily for me, my partner’s family joined us for Chuseok this past month and we were treated to a full-blown Chuseok buffet. As much as I wanted to cook for our special guests, my partner’s mother wouldn’t have any of it, so I was left with no other choice but to watch and take pictures of the process.

The following recipes are some healthy namul banchan that my partner’s mother prepared for our Chuseok feast.  Not only was it healthy and delicious, it perfectly balanced all the meat and fried dishes that were also served. They are simple, basic recipes that can be easily prepared at home and saved for future meals. And if you’re like us, they’re terrific for semi-instant bibimbab (rice mixed with vegetables in hot sauce) or a quick, no-fuss meal with plain white rice. For your information, most of the namul banchan are prepared in a similar fashion—very lightly cooked to save valuable nutrients, seasoned to a minimum to allow the ingredients to shine, and at times selected specifically to pair with the main dish and accompanying soup/stew. The next time you prepare a meal, make sure to throw in some healthy banchan dishes while your’re at it.

“Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.”

~ Fran Lebowitz

 

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This was only half of our Chuseok meal consisting of numerous namul banchan, tangguk (seafood and meat soup), saewu twigim (fried shrimp, kimchi, and of course rice. The other meat and fried dishes didn’t make it on our small table for two.
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Shigeumchi Namul (Seasoned Spinach)

Name: Shigeumchi Namul (Seasoned Spinach) 

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bunch shigeumchi, spinach (yields 1 cup boiled spinach)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1, 2 garlic, finely minced
  • sesame seeds (garnish)
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Wash spinach thoroughly running cold water.
  2. Bring a pot of water and salt to a boil, then add spinach and blanch for about 30 seconds.
  3. After 30 seconds, remove spinach and rinse under cold water for a few minutes until fully cooled.
  4. Squeeze out the water by hand pressing until water is removed.
  5. Mix spinach with the remaining seasoning ingredients.
  6. Garnish and serve as a banchan (side dish).

 

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Gosari Namul (Seasoned Fernbrake)

Name: Gosari Namul (Seasoned Fernbrake) 

Soak time: minimum one hour

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 3 oz. gosari, fernbrake
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (or 2 tbsp salt)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sesame seeds (garnish)
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt (for boiling)

Directions:

  1. Soak the dried fernbrake in water at least one hour minimum, overnight being ideal.
  2. Drain the fernbrake and rinse under cold water a few minutes.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil with the coarse salt. Add the fernbrake and cook about 10 minutes. Sample a piece of the fernbrake. When soft and tender, drain and rinse under cold water. Hand press until water is completely removed.
  4. In a frying pan with olive oil, add the fernbrake and remaining seasoning ingredients. Saute for a 3, 4 minutes and remove from heat.
  5. Garnish and serve as a banchan (side dish)

 

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Kongnamul Muchim (Seasoned Soybean Sprout)

Name: Kongnamul Muchim (Seasoned Soybean Sprouts) 

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag kongnamul, soybean sprouts (approx. 10 oz.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, diced (optional)
  • 1 tsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes; optional)
  • sesame seeds

Directions: 

  1. Remove any bad parts (i.e. dirty tails, husks) of the soybean sprouts and wash them several times under cold water.
  2. In a frying pan, add the soybean sprouts and add water until the soybean sprouts are submerged.
  3. Boil them covered for about 10 minutes on high.
  4. Drain water completely and let sit for a few minutes to cool.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand.
  6. Garnish and serve as a banchan (side dish)

 

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Mu Namul (Seasoned Radish)

Name: Mu Namul (Seasoned Radish, pictured right)  

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 mu, Korean radish (approx. one pound)
  • 1 tbsp salt (or 1 tbsp soy sauce)
  • 2 garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green onion, diced (optional)
  • sesame seeds (garnish)

Directions: 

  1. After washing the radish, cut into manageable pieces. Peel the radish and then cut into match stick pieces. Using a mandolin is recommended.
  2. In a large frying pan, add the julienned radish along with remaining ingredients. Cook on medium heat stirring continuously until radish pieces becomes soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Excess water from the radish will speed up cooking so there’s no need to add extra water.
  3. Remove from heat and drain excess water. Serve hot as a banchan (side dish).
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