Serves 4 | start to finish: 25 minutes
Korean side dishes, called banchan, bring endless variety to even the simplest meal. Served in small bowls, set in the center of the table, banchan are meant to be shared and replenished when empty. These two quick preparation techniques — blanching and quick pickling — yield four or more authentic banchan in less than half an hour. Served along with a bowl of good-quality kimchi, these small dishes complete a Korean feast. Kimchi, which can be made at home but takes time to ferment, is available at Asian markets and many grocery stores around town.
Blanching: Bean Sprouts and Spinach (Sukju Namul and Sigeumchi Namul)
12 ounces mung bean sprouts
10 ounces baby spinach, nettles, or chard (with stems removed)
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Rinse the sprouts and the spinach separately.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of sea salt to the water.
Pour the bean sprouts into the water and blanch for 60 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice-cold water to cool, then drain. Place the sprouts into a bowl and stir in 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon each of sesame oil and sesame seeds.
Make sure the boiling water is clear of sprouts, then repeat the process with the spinach.
Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Quick Pickles: Radish and Cucumber
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 pound daikon radish or Korean radish
1/2 pound thin-skinned cucumbers (usually labeled English, Kirby, Persian, or Korean cucumbers)
1 teaspoon Korean chili flakes (gochugaru) or red pepper flakes (optional)
Stir together the salt, sugar, vinegar, and water until dissolved. Pour the liquid into two small bowls.
Cut the radish into matchsticks or 1/2-inch cubes, and slice the cucumber into 1/8-inch (or thinner) slices with a knife or mandolin.
Place the radish into one of the bowls of pickling liquid and the cucumber into the other. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, if desired, and stir to combine.
Allow to sit 20 minutes before serving. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week.
gluten-free ● vegetarian ● vegan ● dairy-free