Mustard Green Namul is a quick and simple side dish. All you need to do is cut and blanch mustard greens, then dress them in salt, garlic, and sesame oil. Instead of mustard greens, you can use spinach, chrysanthemum leaves, or other soft green vegetables.
Namul is a Korean side dish, not a traditional Japanese food, but namul is so popular in Japan that I decided to post it. It is easy and quick to make, and tasty. Who would not like it?
Namul is a generic name for Korean side dishes made with vegetables that are blanched and dressed with a few staple seasonings. It is one of the Korean home-cooking dishes. When you go to a Korean BBQ restaurant, you get served with numerous small vegetable dishes that are collectively called banchan (photo below). Quite a few namul dishes are included in banchan.
Namul is pronounced ‘namuru’ (ナムル) in Japanese. Since the Japanese language does not have the ‘L’ sound, they replace it with ‘ru’ (ル).
Many of the namul dishes I find on Japanese websites use chicken stock powder to boost the flavouring. My Sesame Bean Sprouts belongs to this kind of namul. But the traditional namul does not use stock powder. The idea is to enjoy the natural flavour of the vegetables.
The seasonings commonly used are soy sauce, salt, sesame oil, minced garlic, and vinegar, with/without spicy seasonings such as gochujang. Because namul is a home-cooking dish, the type of vegetables and the seasoning combinations can vary a lot. It’s just a matter of working out your favourite flavour combinations.
What’s in My Mustard Green Namul
- A bunch of Chinese mustard greens cut into 5cm/2″ long pieces
- Grated garlic
- Sesame oil
- Roasted white sesame seeds
- Finely chopped green onions
Mustard greens are also called gai choy. There are two types of mustard greens sold at Asian grocery stores where I shop. One of them has thin straight stalks and the leaves are narrow. The other type has wide curled stalks with much broader leaves.
The curly stalk species is called big mustard greens, and they appear to be more readily available at Asian grocery stores in my suburb than the thin stalk species.
I used a bunch of big mustard greens to make Mustard Green Namul today. It weighed 350g. A bunch of mustard greens with thin straight stems probably weighs much less and you will need more than a bunch to get 350g/0.8lb of mustard greens.
Since the stalks of my mustard greens were broad, I vertically cut the 5cm/2″ long pieces into 2-3 thin sticks.
How to Make Mustard Green Namul
It is fundamentally a simple two-step process – blanch and dress. However, you will need to carefully prepare your mustard greens before dressing.
- Bring a large pot of water with a couple of pinches of salt to a boil.
- Put the stem pieces in the pot and cook for a minute or so.
- Then add the leaf section of the mustard green pieces to the pot and cook for no more than 30 seconds.
- Drain and rinse under cold running water.
- Squeeze the water out of the mustard greens and place in a bowl.
- Put the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and mix well.
Because the stems of the mustard greens are thick, you need to cook them longer. It is critical to squeeze the water out of the greens as much as possible, otherwise the namul will become watery with a bland flavour.
Using the same dressing as the Mustard Green Namul, you can make namul with other vegetables. Depending on the vegetable you use, the name of the namul changes. For example, if you use julienned carrot, it becomes carrot namul. If bean sprouts are used, it is called bean sprouts namul. You can easily expand your culinary repertoire! Here is the spinach namul that I made.
You can keep Mustard Green Namul for 3 days in the fridge.
Mustard Green Namul is a quick and simple side dish. All you need to do is cut and blanch mustard greens, then dress them with salt, garlic, and sesame oil. Namul is a Korean dish, but it is so popular among Japanese people that I included it in my blog.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 1 bunch Chinese mustard green (about 350g/0.8lb, note 1)
- 1 tsp grated garlic
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
- 2 tsp green onions finely chopped
Remove about 1-1.5cm/⅜-⅝" of the stem end to detach each stalk.
Cut each stalk into 5cm/2" long pieces and segregate the stem section from the leaf section of the mustard green pieces. If the stem section of the stalks or the leaf pieces are very wide, cut them vertically into 2-3 narrower pieces.
Bring water in a large pot to a boil and add a couple of pinches of salt to the pot.
Put the stalk pieces into the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute (note 2) until the mustard green pieces are semi cooked.
Put the rest of the mustard greens into the pot and push them down to submerge them in the boiling water.
Cook for about 30 seconds (note 3).
Drain the mustard green pieces through a sieve and rinse them under cold running water until they cool down completely.
Taking a handful of the mustard green pieces at a time, squeeze them tightly and remove the water out of them (note 3), then place them in a mixing bowl.
When all mustard green pieces are placed in the mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.
Mix well, ensuring that seasonings, sesame seeds, and green onion pieces are evenly mixed with the greens.
Transfer to a large serving bowl to share or individual small bowls.
1. Mustard greens are also called gai choy. There are two types of mustard greens sold at Asian grocery stores in my area. One has thin stalks, and the leaves are smaller, the other type is larger with curled wide stalks. Accordingly, the leaves are much wider. The curly wide stem species are called big mustard greens. Please see the photo in the post that shows both types of mustard greens.
I used a bunch of big mustard greens for today’s dish. But you can of course use mustard greens with thin straight stems, which will take less time to blanch.
2. Depending on the thickness of your stalk pieces, the time to cook may be a little bit longer/shorter.
3. Do not overcook your mustard greens. If overcooked, they will disintegrate and become mushy when you try to squeeze the water out at the next step.
4. It is important to squeeze the water out of the greens as much as possible, otherwise the dish becomes watery with a bland flavour.
5. You can keep Mustard Green Namul for 3 days in the fridge.
6. Nutrition per serving as a side.
serving: 94g calories: 88kcal fat: 6.6g (8%) saturated fat: 0.7g (4%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 2.2g monounsaturated fat: 3.4g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 1112mg (48%) carbohydrates: 5.6g (2%) dietary fibre: 3.6g (13%) sugar: 0.8g protein: 3.4g vitamin D: 0mcg (0%) calcium: 64mg (5%) iron: 1.5mg (8%) potassium: 142mg (3%)