Green Bean Gomaae is a classic Japanese salad where we blanch fresh green beans and toss them in a sweet, sesame-soy dressing. You‘ll need only 4 ingredients and 20 minutes to make this delicious, vegan-friendly side dish.
Green Bean Gomaae (胡麻和え) is one of the vegetable side dishes that my mom taught me to make from scratch when I was little. The aromatic and nutty sesame sauce adds just the right touch to the vegetables. As it pairs well with almost every Japanese meal, we would serve green beans regularly at the family dinner. It’s fresh-tasting, delicious, and super simple.
Whenever you need a quick veggie, the salad will always be a perfect match. It’s the one you’ll make again and again, so memorize the recipe!
Table of Contents
What is Gomaae?
Gomaae (sometimes written as Goma-ae or Goma Ae) is a Japanese side dish with vegetables in sesame sauce. Goma (胡麻) means ‘sesame seeds’ and -Ae (和え) means ‘being dressed with sauce/dressing’ in Japanese. Yes, it’s double ‘a’ in gomaae.
Toasted sesame seeds are crushed and then seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. You will wonder why it’s so simple yet incredibly delicious. The sesame sauce is versatile and you can dress it with all kinds of vegetables! The top 2 popular choices are green beans and spinach.
Why You’ll Love This Dish
- Just 4 ingredients: Green beans, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sugar. That’s it!
- Easy to make, under 15 minutes at max.
- It’s versatile. You can se other veggies if you don’t have green beans.
- Delicious! And addicting. Everyone loves it and wants more! A sure-win way to eat more vegetables.
- Perfect for making ahead. It stores well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to Make Green Bean Gomaae
The Ingredients You’ll Need
- Green beans – I use both regular green beans and skinny French green beans (Haricots Verts) for Gomaae.
- Toasted white sesame seeds – Typically we use white sesame seeds for the gomaae recipe, but you can use black sesame seeds or a combination. Just be aware that black sesame seeds have a stronger aroma and taste. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, and protein. That is why we love using sesame seeds in our cooking!
- Soy sauce – I recommend using Japanese soy sauce instead of other Asian varieties for the right flavor as they taste quite different. If you’re gluten-free, you can use gluten-free soy sauce.
- Sugar – You may wonder if you can skip or substitute sugar with a healthier alternative, such as honey and maple syrup. First of all, soy sauce is salty; therefore, you will need to add sweetness to balance out the flavor. Secondly, if you don’t mind the additional honey/maple syrup flavor in the sauce, you can use it. I personally don’t expect honey or maple syrup in a gomaae dish, so I wouldn’t use it.
The Cooking Steps
- Toast the sesame seeds and grind them. Then, combine all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Prepare the green beans and cook them in boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Toss the green beans and sauce together and serve.
Please read the recipe card below for the details.
Helpful Tools: Japanese Pestle and Mortar
For gomaae, we use a Japanese ceramic mortar and wooden pestle called suribachi (すり鉢) and Surikogi (すりこぎ). These mortars and pestles are helpful to grind sesame seeds and nuts, mash vegetables and tofu, or mix ingredients in Japanese cooking.
Most Japanese household has one of these, which explains why gomaae is quite a popular dish in Japan. I always recommend getting a bigger bowl if you can; that way, you can put the ingredients in there for tossing together. Two of my favorite suribachi bowls are roughly 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter.
- Japanese-style large ceramic mortar (suribachi) (Use “JOC10” to get 10% off)
- Japanese-style 9.5″ pestle (surikogi) (Use “JOC10” to get 10% off)
5 Cooking Tips
- Toast the sesame seeds. Even though some sesame seeds are already toasted, don’t skip this step. It makes a difference!
- Grind partially. It’s a preference, but you don’t have to grind all the sesame seeds to a paste form. It’s nice to leave some sesame seeds uncrushed for a texture.
- Don’t skip the sugar. I know you may be tempted to skip but don’t omit the sugar completely. You need to counterbalance the saltiness of soy sauce with sugar.
- Don’t overcook the green beans – Depending on the type of green beans you use, be careful not to overcook the beans. You will need to blanch until the beans are just tender, about 3 minutes for French green beans; about 4 to 5 minutes for regular green beans. I like the beans when they still have the slightest crunch of texture. As you cook, check the doneness at intervals.
- Shock the green vegetables. Quickly rinse them in cold water to stop them from cooking further (or you can transfer them to an ice-water bath). Whether you use green beans or spinach, shocking them with cold water will help the beans stay bright green.
Other Vegetable Variations
No green beans today? Try the following vegetables to make delicious gomaae!
- Bean sprouts
- Broccoli & Broccolini – Kids’ favorite!
- Burdock root (Gobo)
- Chrysanthemum greens (shungiku) – My mom’s favorite for Gomaae.
- Komatsuna – Mr. JOC’s favorite!
- Spinach – Here’s my recipe.
- By adding tofu to gomaae, you can make Shiraae, a variation of gomaae!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why don’t we make more sauce for the green beans?
Gomaae’s sauce is not supposed to be sauce-y. Green beans are gently coated with the sesame sauce. For a half-pound of green beans, you will need one tablespoon of soy sauce and a half to one tablespoon of sugar.
Can I use black sesame seeds?
You can, but please be aware that black sesame seeds have a stronger aroma and taste.
Can I use another vegetable other than green beans?
Sure! I listed some of the vegetables that work with sesame sauce right above this section, so check it out!
Green Bean Gomaae (Sesame Dressing)
For the Dressing
For the Green Beans
- 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ lb green beans
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Prepare the Sesame Dressing
- Bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the beans. Meanwhile, toast 3 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, gently shaking the pan. Be careful not to burn the seeds. Tip: Even if your sesame seeds are pre-toasted/roasted, it’s good to toast them again for a nice aroma.
- With a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder), grind the sesame seeds, leaving some uncrushed to add texture to the sauce.
- Add 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp sugar and mix it all together. The dressing will look more like a paste than dressing. Set aside.
To Prepare the Green Beans
- If your green beans are not trimmed, snap the tip of one end of the bean with your fingers and draw it down the length of one side to remove any existing string. Do the same thing with the other end, pulling it down the other side of the bean.
- To the boiling water, add 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt and ½ lb green beans.
- Cook the green beans for 4–5 minutes (or 3 minutes for French green beans/haricots verts) until they are bright green and tender but still crunchy.
- Remove from the heat, place in a strainer, and quickly rinse them in cold water to stop them from cooking further (or you can transfer them to an ice-water bath). You don’t need to chill them; the beans should still be warm. Drain or dry well with a clean towel. Then, cut them into pieces 2 inches (5 cm) long. Tip: Shocking the green beans with cold water will help them stay green.
To Dress and Serve
- Transfer the warm beans to the bowl and toss them in the sesame dressing. Serve the Green Bean Gomaae at room temperature or chilled.
- Keep the leftover in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.