Seasoned Soybean Sprouts and Spinach (Banchan) - Recipe

Seasoned Soybean Sprouts and Spinach

Korean food wouldn't be Korean food without banchan. For those of you that are not familiar, banchan refers to the little side dishes that accompany every Korean meal, everything from kimchi to seaweed.
Today I made two banchan, seasoned soybean sprouts and seasoned spinach. You can eat this on its own, with a bowl of rice, but I made them for bibimbap I was going to make for dinner (I will be sharing this on another post).

First, seasoned soybean sprouts:
You can buy soybean sprouts at any Asian market, but I recommend a Korean market if there is one around you. Since Korean people eat soybean sprouts in many different ways, it is a very popular item and Korean markets will carry different brands. You can even buy this already stemmed for convenience, but if you don't, then you want to stem and wash them. Stemming soybean sprouts can be very painstaking, but I find it strangely soothing (a little odd, I know).laugh

After washing, place the soybean sprouts in a pot with about 2 cups of water and 1/2 T of salt.  Cover the pot and let it boil and cook for about 4-5 minutes. 

After removing from heat and draining the water, season the soybean sprouts (my bag of soybean sprouts was a 12 ounce bag):

  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 3/4 tablespoon red chili pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (adjust to your taste)

Use your hand!  Mix in the seasoning so that the flavors are uniform.  You can eat this right away or refrigerate and eat whenever.  It will stay fresh for a few days.

Next, seasoned spinach:
Very similar to the soybean sprouts.  I used one whole bundle.
First, wash well, making sure you don't have dirt on any of the leaves.  I prefer to cut off the roots so it looks prettier.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add 1/2 T salt into the boiling water and then drop the spinach in. 

It literally takes about 15 seconds for the spinach to cook, so swirl it in the boiling water until it wilts, and then quickly remove from heat and drain the water.

Squeeze excess water (be careful, let it cool first), and season:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sesame seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust to your taste)
  • some chopped green onion

You want to use your hand and mix in the flavors. 

You are ready to eat this right away or it can be refrigerated as well.  Spinach tends to spoil quickly, so try to eat within 1-2 days.

The beauty of Korean food is that the measurements do not need to be exact.  I've found that I use different amounts of seasoning every time, but I can quickly adjust the flavors if necessary. 
Seasoned soybean sprouts and seasoned spinach are very basic banchan that most Korean people eat several times a week.  A great way to become familiar with Korean cuisine, and healthy too.  Hopefully I will be adding more to my banchan repertoire!

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