Recipe: Toasted Sesame Spinach Salad

A refreshing cold side salad with a satisfying umami taste. 
I served this with a teriyaki salmon and tamagoyaki (sweet and savoury rolled Japanese omelet).

I honestly wanted to do something else with all the spinach I had left. I got sick of creamed spinach or sautéed spinach. For some reason, when I buy just 1 bunch of this, it's always never enough because it's shrinks to a little baby side dish (especially the bagged spinach leaves, don't get me started on those - if you cook them, they'll just disappear 😳). But when I buy 2 or 3 bunches, I end up thinking "now this is too much". Decisions, decisions. I honestly don't like fresh spinach in my salad because of the grainy after-feel it leaves on my teeth (I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences this. Almost a grainy/squeaky feel, like chalkboard. I SHUDDER.)

I've served this at home as a cold side dish every time we have a Japanese or a Korean dinner spread going on. It's easy to make and you can store it in the chiller for up to 4 days. It's also a quick snack in case you get hungry but don't really want to get all the pans and pots out and eat another carb-loaded dish before sleeping. 

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Toasted Sesame Spinach Salad
This recipe can yield 1 cup of this side dish, sometimes 1.5 cups depending on how much spinach you have in a bunch.

You'll need a skillet, a mortar and pestle, a big mixing bowl, a smaller bowl, a strainer/colander, a stock pot, and a spoon or chopsticks.

Ingredients
2 tbsp sesame seeds (I only had the regular and black sesame seeds. You can definitely just use the regular seeds.)

2 tsp sugar
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp sake
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce (Best to use Tamari - this is the Japanese soy sauce. It's thicker, less salty, and I find it more flavourful than Chinese soy sauce.)
1 tbsp sesame oil

1 bunch of spinach
4 cups water, for boiling

4 cups cold water, for ice bath
1 cup ice cubes, for ice bath

Procedure
1. Heat your skillet to medium and toast the sesame seeds. This should take about 2-3 minutes, toss it around the pan. When you see the seeds brown, smell the sesame seed oil, and hear the soft crackle, they're good to go.
2. Crush the toasted seeds using a mortar and pestle. (Okay fine, I recently discovered I don't have a mortar and pestle. So..... don't judge me. I used a bowl and the bottom of a ceramic sauce dish.)
 
3. In a small bowl, combine the toasted sesame seeds, sake, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.
4. Wash and strain your spinach. I like to snip the stem edges so they're mostly the same length and there are no dried tips. Prepare the ice bath in a big bowl and set aside. Bring the water to a boil in a stock pot and cook the spinach for about 2-3 minutes. Blanch it in the ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
 
5. Strain the cooked spinach and arrange by the stem. Squeeze out the remaining water in the spinach and slice into thirds.
 
6. Place some cooked spinach in a container and spoon the sesame mixture over the spinach and spread around. Do this in batches so you don't tear up the leaves. Chill for 30 mins.
 
7. Enjoy!!! You can store this or eat this all up right away!

#donyaluzee #food #recipe #spinach #blanch #blanching #sesameseeds #sesameoil #sake #mirin #tamari #soysauce #sugar #appetizer #sidedish 

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