Japanese Spinach Salad (Gomae)
Larry has fond memories of cold spinach salad in Japan. We compared several recipes, and did a mix of several (from salu salo, fine cooking, iheartumami, and bon appetit - seriously, you used frozen spinach?). Serve with Larry's miso soup and TJ's yakisoba! Note that I originally tried 3 T sesame seeds, 3 T soy sauce, 1.5 T rice vinegar, and a little sesame oil, but the dressing was too strong. Then I reduced it 2/3 (2 T sesame, 2T soy, etc.) and it was still too strong for us. The following pares it back even more because we like it mild so the spinach taste comes across; increase if you like it stronger.
2 lbs fresh spinach (2 bunches or 1 Costco box)
Salt (for boiling water)
Dressing (mild version)
4 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp rice vinegar (or rice wine or sherry)
4 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
Prepare spinach 30 minutes to 3 hours ahead: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil add a pinch of salt. Add spinach to boiling water and cook for one minute. Drain and soak with cold water until cooled, removing as much water as possible. Chill the spinach for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry small skillet over medium low heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until slightly darkened in color and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool. Crush in a mortar and pestle or put in a resealable plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush seeds. Crush until mostly mashed but with some whole seeds remaining.
In a large bowl, whisk together the toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil (if using), vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix well.
Collect the spinach in a long row, and cut into 4 quarters/pieces. Squeeze out any excess water. Transfer to the large bowl with dressing and toss with your hands, taking care to break up any clumps so the spinach gets well coated. Serve!