Spinach with sesame dressing (horenso no goma-ae)

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I am totally going through a fashion slump right now and it’s bugging me.  I have clothes, and I could wear these in cool combinations but I seem to keep going back to the same 3 or 4 outfits to get me through, and I can tell you they are not so cool that you’d find me gracing the pages of The Sartorialist, nope, not happening.

I really like fashion and love following fashion blogs like The Sartorialist and Garance Doré amongst others.  I see cute outfits that I file away in the fashion quadrant of my brain and think ‘yeah I could totally recreate something like that with my wardrobe’…and then I try….and then I realise…’oh yeah, I’m not 5’11 with long willowy limbs; and curvy butt-where did you come from?? I am totally not rocking this look (sad face)’

The other thing is bravery…there is a uniform in Melbourne, which generally consists of black matched with black and then accessorised with black.  You wear a bright colour and it’s almost like you’re walking around with toilet paper hanging out of your pants.  I wish I was braver to rock that neon yellow dress and I’ll be the one that tries on the neon yellow dress in the store….and then buy the black version.

I’m sorry, I’m just doing a brain dump today of the first world problems that I am experiencing… buuuut I still have a ripper recipe for you.  This is the neon yellow of salads, punchy in flavour and if you’re going through a salad dressing slump, you gotta take this one on a test drive.

This is a Japanese recipe that my mum used to make a lot and you’ll often find it as an appetiser in a Japanese restaurant.  It is traditionally served with spinach but you could use this dressing with other veg quite easily.  The main ingredient of dressing is toasted sesame seeds (mmmm toasted), ground up into a paste.  The Japanese use a special bowl called a ‘surubachi’ (pictured above) which comes with a wooden pestle to grind sesame seeds.  The mortar is an earthenware bowl that has a ridged pattern to help with the grinding.  If you don’t have one that’s totally fine, you could use a standard mortar and pestle or even a food processor, but if you want to go authentic, you could pick up a surubachi bowl from a Japanese supermarket, they are pretty inexpensive and very effective.

Horenso no goma-ae/Spinach with sesame dressing

Serves 2 – 4 as a side

What you need:

  • 1 large bunch of english or baby spinach (approx 200 g)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce+ 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 50 g white sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp water

What to do:

Thoroughly wash your spinach to remove all the dirt and grit.  Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Add the spinach and cook for approximately one minute.  Drain and immediately plunge the spinach into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process and retain a vibrant green colour.  When the spinach has cooled in the iced water, drain and then squeeze out all the moisture from the spinach.  Cut the spinach into about 5 cm/2 in lengths and then place in a bowl and sprinkle with the 1 tsp of soy.

You can buy toasted sesame seeds from the japanese supermarket but if you just have regular sesame seeds, toast them in a dry frypan until they turn golden (about 2-3 mins).  Make sure you move them around so they don’t get burnt.

Put the sesame seeds into whatever ‘grinding’ utensil you are using (surubachi, mortar and pestle or food processor) and grind until finely crushed.  Add the sugar, sake, mirin, water and rest of the soy and mix until a paste forms.

Mix the sesame dressing with the spinach until the spinach is well coated and then transfer to a serving dish.  Feel free to garnish with a sprinkle of extra sesame seeds.


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  • My japanese mother makes a version of this but just uses honey and tempura sauce with the toasted sesame seeds. Just about my favorite thing and healthy too. She also does this with fresh string beans by just boiling them for a few minutes and then putting the soy sauce, honey and sesame seeds on it. They are both delicious.

    • That sounds like a lovely version Marion. I also do this with beans as well, it’s such a great dressing isn’t it.

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