Ban chan is the proper term for the many little side dishes in Korean cuisine. Namul describes seasoned vegetables. You can make namul out of any vegetable, though eggplant is technically a fruit. In any case, this quick dish will add some diversity to your everyday dinner table with little effort. For eggplant lovers, this is a must try dish!
To make Gaji Namul, you’ll need Japanese eggplant, which are long and thin in shape, whereas the Italian kind tends to be more round. The calyx (stem) of the Japanese eggplant is purple, just like its skin, where as the calyx of the Italian variety is green. The Japanese kind is best for this dish, since the skin is a bit thinner and therefore, easier to eat when steamed.
Note: I needed green onions to include but by the time I realized I didn’t have any, there was no turning back. It seemed like a great idea to substitute with parsley – since they are both green. At first, the citrus flavor was interesting. Yet as time went on, the flavor became too strong for the simple soy sauce/sesame oil flavors. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Recipe: Gaji Namul (eggplant sidedish)
Makes 3-4 servings
3 Japanese eggplant, halved into 3″ pieces
2 teaspoons of gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
2 teaspoon of sesame seeds
1 green onion, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 cloves of minced garlic
1. Boil 2.5 cups of water in a large pot. Place steamer on the bottom and steam eggplant for 10-12 minutes, or until skin becomes dark and eggplant is tender. (I didn’t have steamer so I made one up and it didn’t cook evenly. Instead, boil eggplant in water until tender and remove from heat as soon as possible.)
2. Drain water from the pot and transfer eggplant to a bowl. Let it cool for 15 minutes.
3. Once cooled, squeeze the water out. Then, using your hands, rip into strips. It should happen easily.
4. In the same bowl, add gochugaru, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, green onion and mix together. This can be served at room temperature or cold.
5. Store in covered bowl for up to 2 weeks.