Korean Spinach & Anchovy Pasta!
Let me start off by telling you – we’ve had this pasta over 7 times this month.
We love this pasta recipe! It’s soo easy to make, absolutely delicious & light on the stomach. No heavy creams… no butter!
For this pasta, we’ll borrow elements from Korean & Italian cuisine and unapologetically… stir-fry them together!
The Korean Part…
We’ll use soy sauce to flavor the oil! A little bit of soy sauce goes a long way… especially when mixed with infused olive oil and anchovy filets (more on this later).
It will form a salty, umami-packed base.
Next, we’ll being using Korean spinach as the main ingredient… a special type called Seomcho!
What is Seomcho (섬초)?
Seomcho is a type of Korean Spinach that is primarily grown in South Jeolla Province (전라남도).
It has a much thicker stem than Common Korean Spinach or Western Spinach.
When stir-fried, Seomcho does not wilt down as much – making the dish look very appetizing!
(Note: Seomcho will be hard to find if you don’t have access to a large Korean supermarket. This recipe works just fine with Regular Korean Spinach or Western spinach… but both will shrivel up more… the taste will still be great!)
It’s actually recent since Seomcho started to be farmed at commercial scale – started in 1996.
So many Koreans are not too familiar with this regional Spinach.
It’s also referred to as Namhae-cho (남해초) or Pohang-cho (포항초).
But the taste of Seomcho is wonderful! A foodie’s dream.
The leaves are packed with nutrition and it even has a slight, natural sweetness to them.
If you ever see them at the Korean market, grab a bundle!
The Italian Ingredients…
This is an oil-based pasta. And we’ll infuse our olive oil with a (generous) amount of garlic & pepperoncino.
Then, we’ll also add a key ingredient – anchovy filets!
Don’t be scared!
Anchovy filets have a salty funkiness – which add complexity to our oil sauce, another layer of umami!
Note: I want to let you know the anchovies filets get completely dissolved once it gets stir-fried into the heat. You won’t see it!
Some Cooking Tips:
We don’t want to stir-fry the spinach for too long – as they will continue to wilt down in the heat.
I highly recommend getting all of the ingredients pre-measured and ready to go on the side – before you start stir-frying…
Don’t forget to add those 3 pinches of salt at the end – it will get the oil sauce tasting just right!
Finally – this may be the one time you hear this – but do NOT add cheese to this pasta!
It tends to overpower the nuanced salty, umami flavor of the simple ingredients.
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- 200 grams Korean Spinach (Or Seomcho)
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 5-6 small-sized Small-Sized Peperoncino
- 2 Anchovy Filets
- 2 teaspoons (!) Soy Sauce
- 3 pinches Salt (to season stir-fried spinach)
- 4-5 cracks Black Pepper (to season stir-fried spinach)
- 200 grams Penne Pasta (~2 Cups)
- 2 Soup Ladles Pasta Water (~100ml)
Prep Spinach & Ingredients
- Thoroughly wash the Korean Spinach (200g). Trim off the stem and separate the leaves.
- Slice 8 garlic cloves into thin slices.
- Set aside 5 small-sized peperocino. (If yours are large-sized, use 3)
- Take out 2 anchovy filets from the jar. Use two forks to tear them into small pieces.
- Finally, measure and set aside 2 teaspoons(!) (NOT TABLESPOON) of Soy Sauce.
- Add hot water to a pot. Add-in a large spoonful of salt. Bring it to boil.
- After it comes to a boil, add in 200g of penne (~2 standard cups worth)
- Set a timer for 9 mins.
- After 9 mins (before you drain the water), scoop out ~2 soup ladles worth of the pasta water and set it aside for later.
- Drain the pasta. Set the al-dente pasta aside for just a few minutes.
Make Pasta & Stir-Fry
- Add 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil into a wok or large frying pan.
- Add in garlic slices and peperoncino. Then place the wok on medium-heat and wait until the ingredients sizzle in the oil.
- Once the edges of the garlic start to brown, add in soy sauce. Then immediately add in the spinach... to prevent oil from splattering out!
- Now lower the heat to a LOW. Stir-fry the spinach around for 10 seconds... or until the spinach starts to sweat.
- Now, quickly add in the anchovy filets. Followed by Salt (3 big pinches) and Black pepper (4-5 cracks). Give everything a good stir for 10 seconds.
- Now add the penne (200g). Along with some* of the residual pasta water (*note: don't have to add everything in)
- Raise to a HIGH heat and stir-fry everything together for 30-40 seconds.
- Turn off heat. Give it a quick taste - add pinch of salt if slightly bland..
- Plate and enjoy!! You're going to love it.