All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Kankoku mitsuba no shiraae / cham namul with tofu dressing

Inspired by a banchan side dish at our favorite Korean restaurant, this recipe transforms a bitter-tasting Korean leafy green into a different kind of shiraae. Among the numerous similarities in ingredients and dishes between Korea and Japan, it is always fascinating to find different approaches and techniques. Below, the tofu dressing is saltier than the one for typical Japanese shiraae. Use of sesame oil in this dish is very Korean. 

1/2 of recipe:
65 calories; 4.6 g protein; 4.2 g fat; 2.6 g carbohydrate; 1.6 g net carbs; 126 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1.0 g fiber 


Handful cham namul kankoku mitsuba (54 g in photo)
1/2 sesame oil (not in photo)

For tofu dressing
Small handful momen firm tofu (112 g in photo)
1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
1 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt
1/8 tsp usukuchi soy sauce

Boil plenty of water for blanching cham namul.


Meanwhile, prepare tofu dressing.
Grind sesame seeds in suribachi mortar.

Lightly squeeze out water from tofu, add it to sesame seeds, and mush and mix well.
Add shiokoji and usukuchi soy sauce, and mix well. Set aside. 


When water boils, blanch cham namul.
First put stem part, then put leaves.

Transfer cham namul to ice water to stop cooking.


When cool, squeeze out excess water, and cut into 3-4 cm.
Squeeze out water again, and place cham namul in a bowl.
Add sesame oil, and mix well. 


Add cham namul to tofu dressing, and mix well.
Ready to serve. 

  • Usukuchi soy sauce is used to keep the tofu dressing white. If color is not a concern, regular soy sauce is fine.
  • If shiokoji is not available, use salt.
  • In the recipe above, the vegetable is first coated with sesame oil to prevent sodium in the tofu dressing from penetrating the vegetable while softening its bitterness. However, it is probably more common to add sesame oil to the tofu mixture.
  • As I cannot find nutrition data for cham namul, the above nutrition figures are based on seri water dropwort (Oenanthe javanica).
  • Cham namul (Pimpinella buachycarpa Nakai) is a Koren vegetable, and is often rendered as mitsuba (Cryptotaenia canadensis subsp. japonica) in Japanese, probably because of their similar look. But its bitter taste reminds of seri water dropwort instead of mitsuba. To me, cham namul's taste and texture are similar to those of ashitaba (Angelica keiskei), a regional vegetable from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo. All these greens and seri water dropwort belong to the same Apiaceae family.
  • Cham namul is said to be beneficial for the liver as well as for controlling high blood pressure.

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