Monday, September 3, 2012

The Co-op's Korean Spinach

I'm pretty sure that the reason I would happily down this entire bowl of spinach has more to do with it being tasty than about it tasting like good memories, but it can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.

This is a great spinach dish for people who think they don't like spinach: it has a mild, savory flavor that enchants all kinds of palates. It's also, starting with frozen spinach and adding very little, highly nutritious and cheap as chaff.

Growing up in Putney, our idea of excitement was running amok (so we called it) in the booming metropolis of Brattleboro (or, for real excitement, Northampton). You could subsist throughout the day without spending a dime on free popcorn from Sam's, one little brown bag at a time, and water at the Co-op. If there were still a few bucks left (if there were any to begin with) after digging through the stacks of used books, music and clothes, and the popcorn wasn't quite cutting it, the Co-op deli was the next stop. The deli has an incredible selection of prepared foods (still do) and one of the best cheese selections in the state of Vermont (this is back when Henry Tewksbury was still king of the cheese counter), but really, it always came down to the following: Korean spinach with either sesame noodles or spicy Thai tofu. The three dishes shared a common ginger/garlic/sesame/soy sauce flavor profile and melded together beautifully, pinched fingerful by fingerful out of the little, plastic deli containers.

Later on, I worked in a kitchen with a woman who had worked for years in the Co-op's deli and had prepared untold barrels of Korean spinach in her time there. She let me in on how simple the Korean spinach was to make, which I should have guessed, but hearing it from the source gave it more weight.

    Korean Spinach

    vegan, gluten-free (depending on soy sauce)
  • 1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tblsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tblsp. mirin (optional)
  • 1-2 Tblsp. toasted sesame seeds
Squeeze thawed spinach thoroughly to remove excess liquid. In a bowl, massage together ingredients until well mixed. Serve room temperature or cooler. Pairs well with sesame or peanut noodles and roasted tofu in spicy peanut sauce.

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