Japanese Spinach salad with sesame dressing (gomae)

Have you heard of gomae, the Japanese spinach salad with sesame dressing? If you haven’t, today is your lucky day because this is a delicious and nourishing side dish. And the easiest way to make your kids eat spinach even if they don’t like it. Give it a go!

Japanese spinach salad gomae, served in a white bowl with chopsticks

Gomae or goma-ae, is a well-loved Japanese side dish that you will find on all menus of Japanese restaurants. The blanched English spinach is coated in a delicious dressing that is made with toasted sesame seeds. It is usually served as a side dish in small bowls.

Reasons to love Gomae recipe

  1. First of all, it is delicious: Gomae is packed with rich, nutty, and slightly sweet flavors from the goma, the sesame sauce. The combination of toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, and a touch of sweetness creates a delicious taste that appeals to many palates.
  2. Quick and Easy to Make: Gomae is a simple dish that requires minimal preparation and cooking time. Blanching the spinach and preparing the sesame sauce are the main steps, making it a convenient side dish to whip up in a short amount of time.
  3. Versatility: While gomae traditionally features spinach, this Japanese sesame dressing can also be used with other vegetables like kale, broccoli, or green beans. 
  4. Gluten-free. Last but not least, this recipe is gluten-free and is safe for you if you are following a gluten-free diet. 
spinach salad with Japanese goma dressing

Ingredients to make Japanese spinach with sesame dressing

To make goma-ae we will need four simple ingredients:

  • Whole sesame seeds, which we will quickly roast in a frying pan to enhance the nutty flavor.
  • Light soy sauce. I use tamari because it is gluten-free, but you can use a regular Japanese soy sauce too.
  • Sugar. I recommend using organic raw sugar because it is the least processed variety and actually still has some nutrients. You can also use maple syrup if you like.
  • English spinach. If you can find organic spinach is great, if not go ahead with what you can find in your local supermarket. Just make sure the spinach is fresh and crisp.
ingredients needed to make gomae, Japanese spinach salad

See the full list of ingredients in the recipe card below.

How to make a Japanese spinach salad with sesame dressing?

Start by making the delicious Japanese dressing:

  • Grind toasted sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder until you get a smooth paste. You can also use a small food processor or coffee grinder if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.
  • In a small bowl, mix the ground sesame seeds with soy sauce and a little sugar (adjust sweetness to your preference) until you have a creamy dressing.
  • Set aside

Blan​ch the Spinach:

  • Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  • Add the spinach to the boiling water, starting from the stem side (it takes longer to cook).
  • Cook the spinach for about 30-45 seconds until it wilts.
  • Immediately remove the spinach from the boiling water and transfer it to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
  • Drain the cooled spinach thoroughly.

Combine and Toss:

  • Place the drained spinach on a chopping board and cut it into 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm) lengths.
  • Transfer the cut spinach to a medium bowl.
  • Pour the sesame dressing over the spinach.
  • Toss everything together until the spinach is evenly coated with the sauce.

Serve:

  • Gomae can be served at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference.
  • It makes a delicious side dish, perfect to complement any Japanese meal.

This simple recipe can be easily scaled up to accommodate a larger crowd by doubling or tripling the recipe. Making a large batch is a practical and efficient way to serve this delicious side dish at gatherings, parties, or family gatherings. 

How to store gomae:

If you have any leftover gomae simply transfer them to an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. Refrigerate promptly after it has cooled down. 

Properly stored, gomae can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days. However, it is best to consume it within the first day or two to enjoy it at its freshest and tastiest.

Gomae is typically enjoyed cold or at room temperature. 

Japanese spinach salad gomae, served in a white bowl, sprinkled with sesame seeds

What to serve with Japanese spinach salad?

Gomae is a versatile side dish that pairs well with various Japanese and Asian-inspired dishes. Here are some popular options to serve alongside gomae:

  1. Sushi and Sashimi: Gomae complements sushi and sashimi dishes beautifully. The fresh and light flavors of gomae provide a nice contrast to the rich and savory taste of sushi and sashimi. See how to make sushi nigiri at home in no time.
  2. Tempura: The crispy and flavorful tempura is an excellent accompaniment to gomae. The contrast between the fried tempura and the refreshing spinach salad is delicious.
  3. Teriyaki salmon or chicken: The nutty sesame sauce of gomae goes well with the sweet and savory flavors of teriyaki salmon or chicken, creating a balanced combination of tastes.
  4. It makes a great addition to the rice bowls, such as poke bowls.
  5. Sushi rice. My youngest son, like gomae with freshly cooked sushi rice and sliced avocado. It makes a great lunch or dinner for kids. It also can be a great idea for a school lunch box.

If you made this recipe and liked it, leave a comment and a star rating below. It will help others and make me soo happy! Thank you and happy cooking!

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Japanese spinach salad gomae, served in a white bowl, sprinkled with sesame seeds

Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing – Goma-ae

Elena Elliott
Japanese spinach salad, known as gomae, is a delicious and nutritious side dish made with blanched spinach coated in a slightly sweet and nutty sesame sauce. It's a flavorful and refreshing addition to any meal.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Bunch of English spinach Not the babay spinach. Aproximatelly 220g
  • 3 tablespoons Roasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Soy Use Tamari, if following gluten-free diet
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar Use organic raw sugar or other sweetner of your choice,

Instructions
 

Sesame sauce

  • For the sesame sauce, put sesame seeds in a frying pan and toast them over low heat. When the sesame seeds turn light golden and start to pop, remove the pan from the heat and transfer them to a bowl or a plate to cool.
  • Place the toasted sesame seeds into a mortar and pestle, grinding them to form a smooth paste while intentionally leaving some seeds unground to create some texture.
  • Next, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the ground sesame seeds. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Set aside.

Prepare spinach

  • Trim the English spinach by removing roots and damaged leaves. Then, thoroughly wash the spinach under running water to remove any sand or dirt that may be present. Ensure that the spinach is clean and free from any debris before using it in your recipe.
  • Fill a large pot with lightly salted water. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the spinach to the pot, starting from the stem side, as it takes longer to cook. Cook the spinach for 30 to 45 seconds in boiling water.
  • Once the spinach has wilted, remove it from the boiling water using kitchen tongs and immediately transfer it to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
  • Once the spinach has cooled down in the ice water bath, drain it thoroughly. You can squeeze it with your hands.
  • Place the drained spinach on a chopping board and cut it into 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm) lengths. Then, transfer the cut spinach into a medium bowl.
  • Add the sesame sauce to the bowl with the cut spinach and toss everything together until the sauce is evenly distributed. You can now serve the dish either at room temperature or chilled, depending on your preference. Enjoy your delicious sesame spinach!

Notes

This recipe was adapted from Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wow, what is there not to love about this yummy recipe?! The dressing was amazing and really put this salad over the top. SO GOOD!

  2. 5 stars
    How cool is this – I haven’t ever seen a recipe like this involving spinach and I cannot wait to try it – thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I hadn’t heard of this recipe before I came across your post but I’m so glad I tried it! It was super simple but still really flavorful and worked great as a side dish for the stir fry I made tonight!

  4. 5 stars
    Danke für die Beschreibung wie man Spinat richtig zubereitett.Ich werde dieses Gericht nächste Woche kochen.

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