Spinach Gomaae Recipe (Sesame Sauce) ほうれん草の胡麻和え

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Spinach Gomaae (Spinach with Sesame Sauce) Recipe | JustOneCookbook.com

Spinach or green beans are often dressed in sesame sauce in Japanese cuisine.  Goma means sesame seed in Japanese and Goma-ae are dishes prepared with sesame sauce.  The delicate texture of freshly ground sesame seeds pairs very well with flavorful vegetables.

Spinach Gomaae | Spinach with Sesame Sauce @ JustOneCookbook.com

This is one of the most common Japanese side dishes, or we call it Osouzai (お惣菜) in Japanese, and you often find them included in the bento box or teishoku (lunch set).  Enjoy!

Spinach Gomaae | Spinach with Sesame Sauce @ JustOneCookbook.com

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Spinach Gomaae (Spinach with Sesame Sauce)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 bunch (1/2 lb, 220 g) spinach
  • A pinch of salt
Sesame Sauce
  1. For the sesame sauce, put sesame seeds in a frying pan and toast them on low heat. When 2-3 sesame seeds start to pop from the pan, remove from the heat.
  2. Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a motor and pestle until smooth.
  3. In a bowl, combine the ground sesame seeds with soy sauce, sugar, sake and mirin, and mix all together.
  4. Rinse the spinach thoroughly and bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  5. Add the spinach to boiling water from stem side and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Drain and soak the spinach in cold water until cool.
  7. Collect the spinach and squeeze water out.
  8. Cut the spinach into 2” (5 cm) lengths.
  9. Toss spinach and sesame sauce together and serve at room temperature or chilled.
American spinach is very soft and we can eat it raw unlike Japanese spinach; therefore, cooking for 1 minute is more than enough.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: Pictures updated in August 2012.

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  1. Joe Chang

    Hi Nami,

    I went to Norikonoko in Berkeley and their Gomae is black color and sweet. Is there a different way they make it compare to yours?

    Please help!


    • Hi Joe! I’m really happy you found my site. :-) It’s been a while since I met you last time! So, I am thinking… Norikonoko probably uses black sesame seeds instead of white sesame seeds. Taste should be same/similar (at least I don’t notice the difference) and my sauce is also sweet, not salty. Thanks again!

  2. That looks so yummy and I love sesame seeds :) This would be my perfect side dish! I need to try your sauce, I make something similar with sesame seeds and soy sauce, and I’ve used it on green beans and on broccoli it was so yummy :) but I need to try the extra ingredients you put in!

    • Hi Suzana! I actually have another recipes waiting… Green Bean Goma-ae, yes same as what you made! I also have ones with tofu in it too… I kind of hesitant to post just side dishes since it sounds so boring…but maybe I should post once in a while. Hope you find Mirin and sake… these make the sauce more mild. Mirin is an important condiment for Japanese cooking.

      • I need to visit a Japanese store near me and stock up on yummy things I see in your recipes :) Side dishes are fun, I mostly struggle with them LOL It takes me time to think what to make as a side, and what all of us will eat so I don’t have to make 2 or 3 different things :)

        • Not sure where you live, but I hope the Japanese store has lots of good stuff! Same here, side dishes are sometimes difficult to plan after you spend so much time for main dish, you know. I just saw your blogroll. Thank you for adding mine. I need to start building a blogroll page… Hm another work to do!

    • Hi Ellena! I debated for a long time if step-by-step pictures are necessary (afraid of being heavy to load), but I hear good feedback about it, so I am adding step-by-step pictures. I just need extra time to cook since I have to document each step with camera…but I guess my kids will appreciate it too one day! Your new post made me super hungry. Better go to bed (1:30am now) and look at your pictures tomorrow. =P

  3. Nami, this looks wonderful, so fresh and perfect for spring! I’ve just spend the morning browsing through your lovely blog. My japanese cooking usually does not go beyond making sushi, so looking forward to trying your recipes! Spinach is for tonight and have my mind set on trying Menchi Katsu soon! :)

    • Hello Gourmantine! Well, I can’t make sushi (besides Chirashi, California roll, and maybe handrolls), so you are awesome! Menchi Katsu… I haven’t cooked that for a while. I should replace my old picture too. :-) Thanks for your visit!

    • Thanks Sandra! I love your energy from the morning – first thing to do is to check your post. Always something delicious there. 😉

    • Hi Kim! No problem. Thanks for the request! I thought I didn’t have spinach goma-ae like you requested (I knew I have “green bean” goma-ae in my draft). I’m glad I found it. 😉

  4. Sandy

    I am going to make this today. The only problem is that I don’t have cooking sake, and don’t know where to purchase sake in my state. I will replace it with white wine. Hope it will work well.

    • Hi Sandy! Thank you for making this! It’s only 1/2 tsp, so without it is okay. We don’t cook and evaporate alcohol (sake/wine) so it’s better to leave it out than having “alcohol taste.” Depending on kind of wine, it could be little too much. You can maybe add after you mix up without wine, then taste it first before you add wine? It will taste just fine without it. :-)

    • Hi Kath! Well, the texture is very different. You will grind the sesame so it’s more of paste than seeds. The sweet miso and sesame sauce goes well with spinach. :-) Hope you will like it!

  5. Goma-ae is my FAVOURITE go to dish at any Japanese restaurant I visit. Your tutorial makes it totally possible to make it at home! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just saw your previous post was Agedashi Tofu…I’m headed there next!

    • Hello Jenn! Thank you so much for visiting my site and leaving a comment. I’m very happy to know that my recipe will be helpful. :-)

  6. Adeline

    Hi! Just wanted to check if I wanted to make this dish for a bento box (and a quick fix in the morning), is it okay to make the sesame paste/sauce the night before, leave it in the fridge and just add it to the blanched vegetables in the morning? Probably would steam/heat up the sauce after its out from the fridge, or is that unnecessary? Many thanks in advance!

    • Hi Adeline! Thank you for asking the question. This was one of items that my mom often put in my lunch box. She put leftover from the dinner. She kept it in the fridge and put it in the box next day. In Japan we don’t heat up bento at school, so we ate it at room temperature. I love this food both in cold or at room temperature. This is one of the very common bento items in Japan too and you can make it ahead. Make sure to keep in the fridge overnight. Enjoy!

  7. d'shon

    just tried your goma ae recipe…it is WONDERFUL! it tastes exactly like the goma ae that japanese restaurants in chicago make. twelve years after moving away, we finally have this delicious dish back! thank you so much.

    • Hi d’shon! You are very welcome! I’m so happy to hear you liked this recipe! I’ve been cooking this for years, and I really like this flavor. :-) Thank you so much for your feedback!

  8. Reksi

    Hi, thanks for posting this! Yesterday I ate this in a Japanese all you can eat restaurant…It tasted heavenly! But by the way, can I remake this without sake and mirin (what does mirin tastes like)? I can’t remake this with sake because I completely avoid alcohol :)

  9. Megan H

    HI Nami, A friend passed on your blog. I am going to start making your recipes. I went to a Korean Japanese store to stock up my pantry. This is so delicious, I will definitely make this again. I started following you on Instagram, you will see a lot of my pics from your blog. meghui604

    • Hi Megan! Thank you so much for trying this recipe and I’m glad you stocked up your pantry with ingredients! :) Thanks for following my IG – I look forward to your updates!

  10. Evelyn Hsu

    Hi! I just found your website and everything looks delicious…. thank you for sharing. This one really good…. when I’m done and taste it, it just not of what I imagine in my mind, really surprise me. I tried couple of your recipie too… (I think my husband love me more…. hahahhaa ^_^)

    • Hi Evelyn! I’m so glad you found my site! Thank you so much for trying my recipes and I’m happy you and your husband enjoyed them. Isn’t it great feeling that someone you love enjoy what you cook and become happy? It’s powerful thing! :)

  11. Charles

    This is one of my favourite Japanese salads, Tasty and simple.
    Very easy to follow and understand Thank you Nami san

  12. E Sato

    Thank you for this recipe Nami. I made this using toasted black sesame seeds and it came out so delicious! My husband and I love your recipes.

    • Hi Allyson! I like to roast sesame seeds and grind to get more flavor, but yes, you can use suri-goma (ground sesame seeds). It’s great way to save time! You can use less amount as it’s already ground. Maybe about 2 Tbsp. should be enough. Hope this helps. :)

    • Hi Avis! I’ve been to Vancouver before but I’m not familiar with grocery stores. I’ve heard there are very good Japanese supermarkets in Vancouver. I think you may be able to find there? Sorry I wish I could help you…

  13. Elizabeth

    Hi, I just wanted to say that I tried this recipe out tonight. My boyfriend and I loved it! I was amazed at how complex the flavors seemed even though there were only 2 ingredients in the marinade (and the pepper). Delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Elizabeth

      Whoops, I meant to write this under “honey soy sauce chicken”! I tried this spinach goma ae recipe out too, and it was just as delicious. We had a great meal tonight thanks to your recipes :)

      • Hi Elizabeth! No worries, thank you so much for trying both Honey Soy Sauce Chicken and Goma ae recipes! I’m glad to hear you and your BF enjoyed these dishes. Thanks for your kind feedback too. :)

  14. Linda

    One of the best things my mom used to make. She also sprinkled in a little bit of shichimi pepper at the end, just for fun! Thanks again, Nami, you cook the way my mother did and now I can do the same!

  15. Minh

    I first tried Gomaae a year ago at a restaurant and my Japanese friend said it wasn’t very good. I liked it and it piqued my interest. Found your recipe and have been making it ever since! My friend even said it’s better than the ones we’ve tried in the restaurants.

  16. Marissa Onate

    I went to blue gingko in Blackhawk CA. And the goma ae had a sauce, guessing Was made of seamen oil.. I’m.trying to get that recipe but I can’t.. would you help?

      • christy

        Hi. I use your recipe all the time, but because I’m lazy I just use tahini (sesame paste) instead of toasting and grinding the sesames. My sauce is creamy. Thought this could be the reason.
        Thank you by the way. I love your site.

        • Thank you so much for trying my recipes, Christy! Yeah tahini sauce is creamy and a bit different from this sesame sauce as we keep the sesame seeds coarse instead of grinding finely. I love the texture of it, so when you have more time next time, give it a try! :) Thank you for using my site!

  17. I have loved gomaae ever since I was first introduced to it…around the time I first discovered sushi….None of the restaurants I visited wanted to share how to make the sauce, so I am SO happy to have found a recipe!!! Now I just need to find the sake and mirin!!! Fortunately I am going to visit Vancouver next month so hopefully I will be able to find it there! Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes!!!

    • Hi Jenny! I’m so happy to hear you like gomaae recipe! I have spinach gomaae and broccolini gomaae recipes on my site. I hope you enjoy! Sake and mirin helps to make it more authentic flavor than just soy sauce and sugar. :)

      I also want to suggest to check out Shiraae recipe. Have you heard of it? It’s basically gomaae + tofu.


      Hope you enjoy! :)

  18. Kirsten

    Can you use baby spinach? Because in your directions it says that there are stems so does that mean I need regular spinach?

    • Hi Kirsten! Usually in Japan, we use the regular spinach. Baby spinach is great for raw salad as the leaves are softer and tender. If you can get regular spinach, I would choose it. The mixture of stem and leafy part is actually nice in the salad instead of just leafy part. Hope this helps! :)