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 (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.

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.

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.

Spinach Goma-aeHourensou 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.

Summary

  • CourseAppetizer
  • CuisineJapanese
  • Yield4 side
  • Cooking Time4 minutes
  • Preperation Time10 minutes
  • Total Time14 minutes

Ingredients

30 grams
toasted sesame seeds (~1/3 cup)
450 grams
spinach
1 tablespoon
dashi
1 teaspoon
soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon
granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon
salt

Steps

  1. Bring a very large pot full of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water.
  2. Japanese spinach with sesame seeds.
    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. Japanese spinach with sesame seeds.
    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. Japanese spinach with sesame seeds.
    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. Japanese spinach with sesame seeds.
    Dump the ground sesame seeds in with the spinach and mix to evenly distribute.