Korean spinach my way, Popeye! where are you?

Korean Spinach

 As a young kid, I did not care for spinach until I saw a show “Popeye” on TV.

Oh, Yes! we were able to see “Popeye” show in Korea in the 70th. In my innocent young slender eyes Popeye was a hero, and I truly believed his strength came from eating the spinach from a can. He defeated the naughty Brutus, and saved Olive every time. I loved his steroid injected looking arm…, a symbol of power and strength of a macho man!

 Nobody eats canned spinach in Korea, not even frozen ones. We use fresh spinach every time. It is all year round side dish “Banchan(반찬)” on Korean table. You will see the spinach Banchan pretty much in every Korean restaurant. All seasoned with salt, some garlic, and sesame oil… Sometimes it gets bland and boring.

 I do make this spinach quite often, but I season differently, and everyone is asking what’s in it that makes taste so good. I will reveal my secret for you.

This is my magic powder. It is “dried shrimps” but in a grounded form. I know some might think adding these shrimp to spinach must be stinky or fishy but I tell you, it is NOT.  It adds very nice flavor but no one can tell it is shrimp. Try it! your spinach won’t be that boring anymore.

Besides you can use this in other vegetable Banchan (반찬) and soups to enhance their flavor.

You can buy these dried shrimps in any Asian market these days.

I store them in the freezer.

Just toast these guys until very dry. Make sure to cool them completely afterward.

Put them in a food processor or spice grinder, and process until finely grounded.
 I wouldn’t use coffee grinder unless you want your coffee shrimp flavored.

Hmmmm, shrimp flavored coffee…. Who knows? Anything is possible these days.

You will see some chunks of shrimp but it’s O.K la!

Transfer into a pretty jar if you have.
Store them in the cupboard if you live in cool climate.

Store them in a freezer if you live in tropical paradise.

 Now, let’s learn how to make the Korean spinach.

 You will need;

spinach, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce (I always use low-sodium), garlic (fresh or dried), and the shrimp powder.

 First trim and clean the spinach. Blanch in the boiling water for 5 seconds.

Don’t forget to add salt!

 Drain and rinse with cold water.

 Squeeze out to remove excess water from the spinach.

But not too strong. It needs to retain its moisture.

 If your spinach is long, slice them.

I don’t want you to choke by a foot long spinach.

 Add rest of the ingredients and toss with your HAND, not spoon or fork.
 Give a massage to these green goddess.

Massaging motion as you toss the vegetable is an important skill to master in Korean dishes.

Taste, always.., to see if you need adjust seasoning.
Don’t make it too salty, though.
You get to eat more spinach this way than eating spinach salad.
Serve as a side dish to any Asian themed meal.

It is healthy, tasty, and easy.

Feed it to your man, and check his arms afterward…
You may discover his hidden macho-ness.
Who knows?
He could be the next Mr. Popeye.

Korean Spinach

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Korean Spinach


  • 1 bunch Spinach, trimmed and cleaned
  • 2 Tb soy sauce (low-sodium)
  • 1 small clove garlic minced or 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 Tb sesame oil
  • 1 Tb roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp shrimp powder *
  • *For the Shrimp powder
  • Heat a pan over low heat and toast handful of dried shrimps, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
  • Let them cool completely. Put them in a food processor or spice grinder, and process until finely grounded. Store in a airtight container avoiding direct sunlight or keep them in the freezer.


  1. Blanch spinach in the boiling water for 5 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the spinach with your hands to remove excess water with some force but not too strong. It has to be still moist. Slice them if they are too long.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well with a hand with massaging motion so the seasoning can soak into the spinach. Serve as a side dish.


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  1. 6

    buki says

    the pictures are wonderful. just discovered your blog – love the recipes and am excited to try them. read your "about me" page. i think this is a wonderful way to impart your legacy to your children. you're very inspiring!

  2. 7

    Joy says

    cool… i love korean food! my college korean friends really taught me how to enjoy this stuff.  Now that i have a family and living in the Philippines, i would like them to learn to appreciate too.  Thanks so much… will be back.

  3. 8

    Vnhuong says

    im really in love with your blog and the recipes….all are just awesome.your husbanb and kids would be very proud and lucky of having you as a humurous lovely wife and talented mom. thanks for sharing with us and wish u a sweet vacation this fall.xoxo

  4. 9


    Another wonderful easy dish for a working mum trying to ensure her children get loads of proper nutrition…So far Korean cooking and your blog are helping us!
    This spinach dish was just divine and now I am adapting it with beans and other green leafy vegetables…

    You are very good at what you do…best wishes
    Michel – Sydney – Australia

    • 10

      Holly says

      Thank you Michel. I am so happy to hear that you love my recipes. This is the spinach recipe my kids like to eat as well. Have a great weekend! :)

  5. 11

    ann says

    I’ve just discovered your blog a few days ago. Love it! Ran to the market to get the dried shrimps. Alas, they still have their heads attached. Do we need to remove them before toasting them? Thank you!


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