Spinach is one of those greens I am a bit finicky about. The ubiquitous baby spinach has no flavor to me and yet the spinach I love – the crinkly Bloomsdale – is only in season for a short time, and generally is only found at farmers’ market. So I was delighted to find not only Bloomsdale spinach at the co-op but on sale for a $1.50 a bunch. Snatching up several bunches I brought them home to squirrel away in several ways.
First, I cooked up a bunch and froze it, always planning for a rainy day. I considered an omlet or a quiche but realized the eggy taste of either hides the spinach flavor too much at times. Instead I settled on gomae, a standard side dish at sushi restaurants that involves steaming the spinach and then tossing it with a highly flavorful dressing of roasted sesame seeds pounded with sugar and moistened with rice vinegar and soy sauce. This is the kind of dish where you have to remind yourself not to polish off the whole bowl once you make it!
While some versions suggest using sake, I stuck with the vinegar since I like the bit of sour it brings to the salt and toasted flavors of the dressing. This dish is great hot or cold but I generally prefer it cold after the flavors have soaked into the spinach.
Gomae – Japanese Spinach with Sesame and Soy
1 lb fresh spinach, washed and stems cut off
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
In a large pot steam the spinach with the water that clings to it after being washed. Drain and press out any extra water; chop and place in a bowl. Dry roast the sesame seeds on the stovetop in a nonstick pan until they begin to brown and release their oil. Place in a mortar and pestle along with the sugar and mash well. Add soy sauce and rice vinegar to mixture and blend. Add dressing to spinach and toss to coat. Eat immediately or allow to chill for several hours.
Recipes currently inspiring me: