How about a super simple spinach salad? Boil, cut, plate, top with bonito flakes, and serve with soy sauce. It cannot get simpler than that and spinach is good for you. You can serve it in a large bowl/plate as a shared salad or serve individually in a small bowl/plate as a side. If you are a vegetarian, replace bonito flakes with sesame.
Serves: 2 as salad
bunch of English spinach
(no need to wash unless you notice soil)
Dried bonito flakes 1-2 tbsp
Boil a good amount of water in a large pot. Add a pinch of salt and put in the bunch of spinach, root end down, then slowly push the rest into the boiling water.
When the water starts boiling again, cook for another 15-30 seconds (Note 2). Remove the pot from the heat. Drain the water, leaving the spinach in the pot. Use the lid or tongs to hold the spinach in the pot as you drain the water.
Run cold clean water into the pot with the spinach in it. Continue to run water and rinse the spinach well with your hands while at the same time cooling it down quickly.
Take few stems of spinach at a time, squeezing the water out as much as you can and place them on a cutting board. Repeat with the rest of the spinach stems.
Align all the stems with root side on the right (if you are a right hander). If roots are long, cut off to the beginning of the root and discard. Starting from the root end, cut the spinach into about 4cm length (Note 3).
Take each 4cm / 1.5 inch bunch, again squeeze residual water out and arrange it on a plate in the ways I described in the introduction. Just before serving, sprinkle dried bonito flakes over the spinach. Serve with soy sauce (Note 4).
1. If dried bonito flakes are not your preferred topping, you could substitute roasted white sesame. The flavour is quite different of course but it looks as good.
2. Boiling time varies depending on the type of spinach you can get and also depending on your preference for doneness. Some people prefer al-dente, some like well-cooked.
3. The root end of spinach is pink and it is edible. It's actually very sweet and I must say it is the best part of the spinach. Unfortunately, this time round, the root end of the spinach I bought was quite ugly and not nice at all. Hence you cannot see the pink part of the spinach in the photos. If your spinach root is clean and soft, include it when cutting the spinach.
4. Instead of soy sauce, you could serve with ponzu which is a citrus-based soy dressing. Please refer to Japanese Dressings for the recipes.