Japanese Spinach Salad Dressed in White Sesame is a hybrid of my two recipes – Chrysanthemum Leaves Goma-ae and Spinach Kuro Goma-ae. I realise that spinach is more readily available than chrysanthemum leaves, and white sesame seeds are probably more widely used in the household than black sesame seeds. So, I am posting a recipe that is made of spinach and white sesame seeds.
This is also a good time to repost Goma-ae with better photos and instructions. I can also show you a proper Japanese way of preparing spinach for Goma-ae.
What’s in my Japanese Spinach Salad Dressed in White Sesame
- A bunch of spinach
- A pinch of salt (not in the photo)
- Roasted white sesame seeds
- Soy sauce
Roasted white sesame seeds are not very white, unlike raw sesame seeds that you can buy at the spice section of supermarkets. They are light brown, and you can buy them in a plastic jar or a packet at Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
If you only have raw sesame seeds, dry roast in a saucepan or a frying pan (heat without oil) until the aroma of the sesame comes up. I included detailed instructions in my recipe card. But if you can, I would strongly recommend buying roasted white sesame seeds. The dressing made with store-bought roasted white sesame seeds tastes better.
In this recipe, I omitted mirin from the list of ingredients for Sesame Dressing because I felt that the original dressing in the other recipes was a bit too sweet. I also provided a quantity range for the sugar in my recipe card for the similar reason. You can adjust the sweetness of your dressing.
How to Make Japanese Spinach Salad Dressed in White Sesame
Although I added video today, it is quite simple to make Spinach Goma-ae. You just boil spinach, cut it into short pieces, then mix with the dressing. The process is already described in my other recipes, Chrysanthemum Leaves Goma-ae and Spinach Kuro Goma-ae.
But today, I included how to prepare spinach in the Japanese way. See the video.
Making Sesame Dressing
- Grate roasted white sesame seeds using a mortar and pestle.
- Add sugar and soy sauce to the mortar and mix well ensuring that sugar is dissolved.
I grated about 50% of the seeds so that the dressing will have a crunchy texture. It also looks visually attractive.
- Trim the long root at the bottom of the root crown (the pink part), then make several incisions on the root crown.
- Bunch the spinach clusters together and put a large rubber band on it to secure the bunch.
- Boil spinach, submerging only the stem portion first, then the leaves.
- Drain and quickly cool them down under running water. Rinse well.
- Squeeze the entire bunch to drain water, then remove the rubber band.
- Cut the spinach into 5cm/2″ pieces, then squeeze the water out of them as much as possible.
The sweetest part of spinach is the root crown, which is the pink section at the bottom of the bunch of stems. You should not be discarding this sweetest portion by cutting the bunch of spinach above the pink area, unless you don’t want to show the pink colour in your dish.
The rubber band will prevent the spinach stems from getting tangled up. But if you think you can manage to boil your spinach without tangled up, you don’t need to use a rubber band.
Making Spinach Goma-ae
- Place the spinach pieces in a mixing bowl and transfer the sesame dressing from the mortar to the bowl.
- Mix chopped spinach pieces and the Sesame Dressing well.
Before adding the sesame dressing, loosen the bunch of spinach pieces that are stuck together as a result of squeezing the water out of them. I find that it is easier to mix the sesame dressing evenly than loosening them while mixing the sesame dressing at the same time.
Spinach Goma-ae keeps 2-3 days in the fridge, but it is recommended to eat it by next day because it becomes slightly watery, and the colour of the spinach degrades.
Watch How To Make It
This is a hybrid of my two recipes – Chrysanthemum Leaves Goma-ae and Spinach Kuro Goma-ae. I made Goma-ae with commonly used ingredients. I also changed the Sesame dressing slightly and provided more details on how to prepare the spinach. See the video.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 1 bunch spinach (250-300g/8.8-10.6oz)
- A pinch of salt
- 3 tbsp roasted white sesame seeds (note 1)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ⅔-1 tbsp sugar (note 2)
Put the sesame seeds in mortar and pestle and ground them so that about 50% of the seeds are grounded.
Add soy sauce and sugar to the sesame and mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
Trim the root of each spinach cluster, leaving the root crown (small amount of pink portion at the end of the stems) intact.
Make shallow incisions on the root crown, criss-crossing the cuts (note 3).
Bunch the spinach clusters in the same direction and put a large elastic band (or tie loosely with a string) around to secure the bunch.
Add a pinch of salt to a large pot of boiling water, then put the root end of the spinach bunch (stems) into the pot. Cook for about 20 seconds.
Push the rest of the spinach into the pot to submerge the leaves in the boiling water. Cook for 30 seconds. Turn the bunch over so that the bottom part of the spinach comes to the surface. Let it cook for 5-10 seconds, then turn the heat off.
Drain the hot water immediately and add cold running water to the pot with the spinach to cool them down quickly (note 4). Rinse the spinach well.
Hold the root end of the spinach and squeeze the spinach to remove water so that the water is not draining from the spinach (note 5). Then remove the rubber band.
Place the spinach on a cutting board horizontally, aligning the root end.
Starting from the root end, cut the spinach into 5cm/2” long pieces.
If the root crown is very large and many stems are clustered, the 5cm/2" piece with the root crown can be very thick. Split it into 2-4 thin pieces using the incisions that were made earlier.
Taking a 5cm/2” bunch of spinach at a time, squeeze the water out of the spinach as much as possible, then put it in a bowl.
When all spinach pieces are placed in the bowl, untangle the spinach pieces into thin strands, since they will be tightly clustered after squeezing the water out.
Transfer the sesame dressing to the bowl with the spinach.
Mix well ensuring that sesame coats the spinach pieces evenly.
Transfer the Spinach Goma-ae into serving bowls.
1. Roasted white sesame seeds are slightly brownish compared to the unroasted sesame seeds that you get from supermarkets. You can buy roasted sesame seeds at Japanese/Asian grocery stores. They come in a plastic jar or a packet.
If you only have unroasted sesame seeds, you will need to dry roast them.
i) Put the sesame seeds in a saucepan or a deep frying pan (without oil) and heat over medium low heat.
ii) Stir using a spatula, turning the seeds over.
iii) When sesame seeds are sufficiently heated up, reduce the heat to low and constantly toss the seeds (to prevent the seeds from staying on the heat for a long period of time and burning).
iv) When the seeds become light brown and the aroma of sesame comes up, remove from the heat and immediately transfer the roasted sesame seeds to a bowl/plate to let them cool. Roasting takes about 10-15 minutes in total.
2. I gave a quantity range of the sugar so that you can adjust the sweetness of the dressing to suit to your palate. I tried about 2/3-¾ tablespoon of sugar, and it was just right to me.
3. This is to cook the root crown faster as it is the hardest part of the spinach cluster.
4. Alternatively, you can transfer the spinach to a large bowl under running cold water. I did not do this to save having to wash an extra bowl.
5. You don’t need to squeeze very tightly as you will be squeezing more water out later.
6. Spinach Goma-ae keeps 2-3 days in the fridge, but it is recommended to eat it by next day because it becomes slightly watery, and the colour of the spinach degrades.
7. Nutrition per serving.
serving: 75g calories: 50kcal fat: 3.1g (4%) saturated fat: 0.5g (2%) trans fat: 0.0g polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g monounsaturated fat: 1.1g cholesterol: 0mg (0%) sodium: 303mg (13%) carbohydrates: 6.1g (2%) dietary fibre: 2.2g (8%) sugar: 2.4g protein: 3.1g vitamin D: 0mcg (0%) calcium: mg (9%) iron: 2.6mg (14%) potassium: 395mg (8%)