Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing (Horenso Gomaae) ほうれん草の胡麻和え

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  • Blanched spinach dressed in a savory nutty sesame sauce, this Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing (Spinach Gomaae) is a healthy veggie side dish that goes well with everything.

    Spinach Gomaae, Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing in a small dish.

    Spinach or green beans are often dressed in sesame sauce in Japanese cuisine.  We call this dish “Goma-ae (胡麻和え)”.  Sweet and savory sesame sauce made with freshly ground sesame seeds adds rich and nutty flavors to refreshing blanched green vegetables.


    Watch How To Make Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing (Spinach Gomaae) ほうれん草の胡麻和えの作り方

    Japanese spinach salad (Spinach Gomaae) is a delicious and refreshing side dish prepared with blanched spinach dressed in savory nutty sesame sauce.

    What does Gomaae mean?

    Goma (胡麻) in Japanese means sesame seed and goma-ae (胡麻和え) is a dish that’s dressed with the sesame sauce. The word ae (pronounced as [ah EH]. 和え) comes from the verb aeru ([ah EH loo]. 和える) which is to dress (the food with sauce).

    Spinach Gomaae as Easy Side Dish

    Spinach gomaae is one of the most popular side dishes, or as we call Osozai (お惣菜), in Japan.

    It’s extremely easy and quick to make, and it compliments well with any Japanese foods. Not to mention, it is often added to a bento lunch giving a nice appetizing green color to the meal.

    Spinach Gomaae, Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing in a small dish.

    Freshly Toasted & Ground Sesame Seeds for Japanese Spinach Salad

    Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate crunch to the dish.  If you have time, I highly recommend toasting the sesame seeds (even for roasted sesame seeds) in a frying pan just for a few minutes (no oil needed).   This simple step brings out the wonderful aroma of sesame seeds and toasty flavors.

    Once the sesame seeds are nicely toasted, grind them in a Japanese mortar and pestle. You will be immediately surrounded by the fragrant roasted sesame smell!

    Japanese grocery stores sell convenient crushed/ground sesame seeds in packaged, but the fragrance and flavors won’t be the same.

    Japanese Mortar and Pestle.

    Japanese Mortar & Pestle for Gomaae

    For Japanese cooking we make gomaae frequently enough that each household usually owns Japanese mortar and pestle to crush sesame seeds as well as for various pastes.

    The Mortar (Suribachi): It’s an earthenware bowl and the inside has a ridged pattern to facilitate grinding.

    The Pestle (Surikogi): It’s usually made of wood so that it prevents from wearing down the ridges in the mortar.

    I’ve been using a small suribachi since my college days, but I think it’s time to upgrade to a bigger one so that I can add the blanched spinach directly into the suribachi, instead of transferring the sesame sauce to a bigger bowl.  If you cook for family, I recommend at least medium size suribachi.  You can purchase Japanese mortar and pestle on Amazon.

    Spinach Gomaae in a small dish.

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    4.4 from 41 votes
    Spinach Gomaae (Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
    Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing (Horenso Gomaae)
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    5 mins
    Total Time
    15 mins
    Blanched spinach dressed in a savory nutty sesame sauce, this Japanese Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing (Spinach Gomaae) is a healthy veggie side dish that goes well with everything.
    Course: Salad, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: aemono, gomaae, spinach salad
    Servings: 4
    • 1 bunch spinach (1 bunch = 1/2 lb = 220 g)
    • pinch salt (kosher or sea salt; use half if using table salt)
    Sesame Sauce
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Spinach Gomaae Ingredients
    2. [Optional] 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.
      Spinach Gomaae 2
    3. Grind the toasted sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle. Leave some sesame seeds unground for some texture.
      Spinach Gomaae 1
    4. Add 1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. sake, ½ tsp. mirin to the ground sesame seeds and mix all together.
      Spinach Gomaae 2
    5. Put lightly salted water in a large pot and bring to boil. Once boiling, add the spinach from stem side (takes longer to cook) and cook for 30-45 seconds.
      Spinach Gomaae 3
    6. Remove the spinach from the water and soak in iced water to stop cooking with remaining heat. Alternatively, drain and run the spinach under cold running water until cool. Collect the spinach and squeeze water out.
      Spinach Gomaae 4
    7. Cut the spinach into 1-2” (2.5-5 cm) lengths and put in a medium bowl.
      Spinach Gomaae 5
    8. Add the sesame sauce and toss all together. Serve at room temperature or chilled. You can keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or freezer for 2-4 weeks.
      Spinach Gomaae 6
    Recipe Notes

    Spinach: American spinach is very soft and we can eat it raw unlike Japanese spinach; therefore, cooking for 30-45 seconds is 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: The post was originally published on March 30, 2011.  The video and new pictures were added in June 2016.

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