Spinach Goma-ae

Spinach Goma-ae Recipe
Hourensou no goma-ae (菠薐草の胡麻和え) literally translates to “spinach dressed with sesame seeds”. If that sounds simple, that’s because it is. With only a handful of other ingredients, it’s a quick Japanese salad that’s served as a side for breakfast, lunch or dinner. While the nutty sesame and verdant spinach are the dominant flavors, goma-ae is also smoky, subtly sweet and full of umami, thanks to the dashi-based dressing.

Hourensou no Goma-ae

We all know that spinach is loaded with vitamins A and C, but by pairing it with sesame seeds, this dish is a more complete source of nutrients, replete with protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Best of all, it will keep refrigerated for a few days, so you can make a big batch during the weekend and enjoy your goma-ae during the week.

Although I use toasted sesame seeds, I prefer toasting them again just before using them. Like spices, the flavor of sesame seeds degrades as they sit on a grocery store shelf, by giving them a quick toast, it resurrects some of that lost nutty goodness.

Hourensou no Goma-ae

For the dashi, it may be tempting to simply rehydrate the granulated variety, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s like the difference between using bouillon and homemade chicken stock, and since dashi is the main flavor of the dressing, it will make a noticeable difference. Check out my tips for making dashi from scratch and use the leftovers for making miso soup.

While spinach is the most common vegetable for making goma-ae, it’s also made with green bean, carrots, or almost any leafy green.

Equipment you'll need:

Spinach Goma-ae
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Spinach dressed with a traditional Japanese ground sesame and dashi dressing.
Spinach Goma-ae
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 5
Rating: 4.2
You:
Rate this recipe!
Spinach dressed with a traditional Japanese ground sesame and dashi dressing.
Servings Prep Time
sides 10minutes
Cook Time
4minutes
Servings Prep Time
sides 10minutes
Cook Time
4minutes
Ingredients
  • 30 grams sesame seeds - whole, toasted (~1/3 cup)
  • 450 grams spinach
  • 1 tablespoon dashi
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar - granulated
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Units:
Instructions
  1. Bring a very large pot full of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water.
  2. Cook the spinach in the boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and spinach, rinse briefly with cool water, and then dump the spinach into the ice water.
  3. Retrieve the spinach by the pink roots, and squeeze out as much water as you can.
  4. Chop the roots off and then cut the spinach into 2-inch (5 cm) long pieces.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the dashi, soy sauce and sugar together. Add the spinach to the bowl and toss well to distribute the sauce evenly.
  6. In a small food processor or blender, add the cooled toasted sesame seeds and salt and process until the sesame seeds are ground and start to look like wet sand.
  7. Dump the ground sesame seeds in with the spinach and mix to evenly distribute.

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  • Ashley

    Have you ever tried this with raw spinach? I’m not a huge fan of cooked spinach, but love it raw. And the dressing looks so yummy, I want to try it.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Ashley I don’t think it will work because this dressing has no oil. Oil in dressing increases the viscosity and helps the dressing stick to raw veggies. Just adding oil won’t work either because there’s nothing to emulsify the oil and liquid. When vegetables are cooked and squeezed they turn into a sponge that soaks up liquids you pour over them, which is why this dressing is really geared towards cooked veggies. Hope that helps!

      • Ashley

        Oh, that makes sense, thanks! I shall try the recipe as-is then!

  • tata

    I use tahini sometimes as a substitute and it’s very quick. just make sure you get tahini with no added salt.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi tata, tahini makes a decent substitute for nerigoma (sesame paste), but it’s not really a suitable substitute for surigoma (ground sesame) as it needs to have some texture remaining (should be more of a rough powder than a paste). Also, tahini is made by grinding hulled sesame seeds. Japanese nerigoma and surigoma are made from while sesame seeds (including the hull), this effects the flavor, texture and nutrient content.

  • Ovi

    This was definitely a favorite of mine when it showed up in kyushoku. Thanks!

  • Rami

    Tried it today. Was great! Thanks a lot.

  • Saurav

    How could this be made equally good without the Dashi, and don’t want to use MSG??

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Saurav, dashi does not have MSG if you make it from scratch: http://norecipes.com/recipe/recipes/dashi-recipe/

      If you can’t find the ingredients for making dashi, then you could use a different soup stock, but making this without dashi is kind of like making a pomodoro sauce without garlic or onions.

  • Dew

    Some crushed lightly toasted peanuts will add a whole other dimension to this already excellent dish!

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!