Here’s another dish from my childhood and one of my favorite ways to eat spinach in warm weather. A light blanch, chill, then soak (ohitashi お浸し means to soak) in a flavorful broth. It’s easy to make in advance and keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
One dashi packet or a 3 inch-piece of kombu (if you’d like to make a vegan dish)
2-3 tsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp mirin (optional if you prefer a little sweetness)
2 bunches fresh spinach (preferably with roots still attached)
Yagenbori and/or sesame
• Heat 1 cup of water and the dashi packet or kombu in a small saucepan. Stop right before the water boils, allow to steep off of the heat for a few minutes, then strain. You can reserve the solids and re-use them (I like to slice the kombu thin and add it to salads or pickles, dashi packets can go in with veggies and scraps next time you make stock).
• Add soy sauce and mirin (optional) until you have a lightly salty and rich tasting broth. If you’re using Yagenbori as a garnish add a bit less soy sauce as the Yagenbori has some salt.
• Prepare a bowl of ice water and heat a large pot of lightly salted water. Rinse your spinach thoroughly to remove any sand or dirt.
• Blanch the spinach, lower the bunches in stem-end first, allow to cook for about twenty seconds, then use a wooden spoon to push the leaves under. The spinach is fully blanched when bright green and tender-crisp (about another 45 seconds of cooking).
• Remove to the ice water and mix well to cool the spinach rapidly. Then squeeze any excess water out with your hands. Chop the spinach into 2-3 inch long pieces, and add them to a container with a cover.
• Pour the broth over the spinach and put it in the refrigerator. The flavor peaks after a few hours, and it will keep, covered, for 3 days, so this is a great way to use up spinach and give it a bit more life.
• To serve, remove however much spinach you’d like to eat to a bowl, top with a bit of the broth, then garnish with toasted sesame seeds and/or Yagenbori
Fun to try
• It won’t be as deeply flavorful, but you can always skip the dashi and just add a good soy sauce to blanched spinach. I do this occasionally when I forget to make the dish ahead of time. A little bit of shaved katsuobushi on top adds great flavor if you go this route.
• You can use the same prep for plenty of other vegetables as well, try thin slices of eggplant, okra pods, escarole, or Swiss chard.
• If you have leftovers they are great chopped a bit more finely and added into an omelette or frittata.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue
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