Mature spinach with its sweet purple roots has a heartier, meatier texture than its baby variety. My grandmother used to feed me small bites of this nutritious side dish with her fingers straight into my mouth while she was making it. She always mixed the spinach leaves with her hands to ensure the dressing was evenly coated.
Serves 4 (as a side dish)
- 450g (1lb) mature spinach with stem and roots
- sea salt
- 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds, crushed
- 1 tsp sagwa-shikcho (Korean apple vinegar)
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
- black pepper, freshly ground
Fill a large saucepan with water, salt well and bring to the boil. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath. Rinse the spinach with cold water to remove any dirt, especially around the roots. Remove any hairs from the roots. Cut the spinach into 7cm (2.in) long pieces, keeping the purple roots intact. Split the roots in half horizontally and keep separately.
In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Blanch the spinach in two separate batches. In the boiling salt water, blanch the spinach stem and leaves until just wilted, about 1 minute, remove the spinach from the water and shock in the ice bath. Repeat with the spinach stem with roots, but cook for 1–2 minutes. Remove from the ice bath, drain well and gently squeeze out any excess water.
Gently loosen the clumps of spinach with your fingers and transfer to a bowl. Toss well with the dressing. Cover and chill for about an hour to allow the flavours to mellow before serving.
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