By Susan Pagani, Communications Director
Whenever my husband and I go out for sushi, we ask for two orders of goma-ae. The curls of sesame laden spinach are so tasty and go down so easily that if we were to order just one dish, we would likely cross chopsticks in a battle for the last bite. In this recipe, New York Times food writer Martha Rose Shulman has created a healthier version with less sugar.
Soon we will all be buried in June lettuce, but if you happen to be reading this in the future, the recipe also works with frozen spinach, which in the golden age of flash freezing, is not such a bad option if you buy the good stuff.
Goma-ae: Japanese Spinach Salad
(Makes 4 small servings)
2 6-oz. bags baby spinach (or 1 1/2 pounds, stemmed and washed)
3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. sake
1 tbsp. water (more to taste)
1/2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the spinach for 10 to 20 seconds in the boiling water and transfer to the ice water using a deep-fry skimmer. Drain and gently squeeze out water. Chop coarsely.
2. Make the dressing. If your sesame seeds have not been toasted, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and add the sesame seeds. Stir and shake the pan constantly, and as soon as the seeds turn golden and smell nutty, transfer to a suribachi mortar and pestle or to a spice mill. Allow to cool. Grind the seeds just until crushed.
3. Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sake and water, then stir in the ground sesame seeds. Thin out with water. Toss with the spinach and stir together until the dressing infuses the spinach. Be careful not to bruise the spinach leaves. Divide into four small bunches and place in the middle of four small plates or bowls. Drizzle on a few drops of sesame oil. Serve at room temperature.
Advance preparation: You can blanch the spinach up to a day in advance. The dish can be assembled and refrigerated several hours before serving.