Japanese Spinach Goma-ae

blanched spinach dressed in sesame sauce

This healthy spinach side dish has a sweet, nutty flavour and goes with pretty much any meal. It is particularly well-suited as a sushi side dish if you’re planning on having a sushi night with family or friends.

Mirin is a sweetened rice wine and can be found in most grocery stores in the Asian or the vinegar isle. 

Goma-ae is basically anything dressed in a sesame sauce; feel free to apply the same method to any greens, including foraged ones!

Note that you do need a mortar and pestle for this recipe. 

  • Prep Time10 min
  • Cook Time5 min
  • Total Time15 min
  • Ready in15 min


  • 1 large bag of mature spinach* (usually 227 grams or 1/2 lb)
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds*
  • 1.5 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar



Bring a large pot of water to the boil. 

Wash your spinach leaves so they’re free of any grit.

Prepare a bowl of ice cold water.


Add the spinach and a big pinch of salt to the boiling water and blanch for just under 1 minute.

Immediately transfer to the ice water and let cool.


Add the sesame seeds to the mortar. Gently grind down the seeds until you’ve reached a point where half of the seeds have been obliterated into a paste, and half of the seeds are relatively still whole. 

Now add the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to the mortar and stir well to combine. 


Remove the spinach from the ice water with your hands and gently squeeze out all of the water. You want it to be as dry as possible. 

Transfer to a cutting board and chop through the spinach a couple times, just to break it up a bit. 

Use your fingers to pull apart and fluff up the leaves, as they will all be scrunched together from squeezing. 


Transfer the spinach to a bowl and toss well with the sesame sauce. Serve chilled, or at room temperature. Enjoy!


*This is the time to use those older, mature spinach leaves, not the tender baby ones. That big bag of spinach will reduce down to a shockingly small amount of cooked spinach!

*If you can’t find roasted sesame seeds, put 3 tablespoons of raw seeds into a frying pan and heat over medium low, shaking or stirring very regularly until they begin to change colour from white to golden. Once golden, remove from heat immediately as they will burn on you very quickly!

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