Friday, April 27, 2012

Beet Green Gomae

Recently my husband and I indulged in a rare adults only evening out. We enjoyed the neighborhood tavern feel of Izakaya Meiji, where we sampled an addictively delicious spinach gomae, a dish of steamed spinach with a salty and sweet sesame sauce. I wanted to try making this at home and attempted to puree toasted white sesame seeds in a mini food processor, but was thwarted when they stealthily slipped beneath the blade and remained defiantly intact. The resulting dish was light and refreshing, speckled with toasted sesame seeds, but it didn't capture the rich nuttiness I was trying to recreate.

For my next attempt, I procured some roasted black sesame seeds from Sunrise Asian Food Market. This time I took the seed grinding into my own hands and smashed them in a molcajete, which produced a satisfying paste. The only problem was that in my excitement about the black sesame seeds (an 8 ounce jar for under five dollars!), I had forgot to pick up any spinach.

Luckily, this gardening assistant was helping pull up overwintered beets, which provided an abundance of fresh beet greens for me. I blanched them, like spinach leaves, in boiling water and then quickly transferred them to an ice water bath to halt the cooking process. 

After squeezing out the water and chopping them, I tossed them in the inky, grainy paste that resembled the black dirt from which they had so recently been plucked. As if by magic, the flavors were just what I had been dreaming about. I may even prefer the beet greens to spinach with their extra bitterness as a foil for the sweet nuttiness of the sauce.

Beet Green Gomae
makes two appetizer-sized servings

I bunch beet greens or spinach leaves
2 Tbsp roasted black sesame seeds (or toast some sesame seeds yourself)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp rice wine
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1. Smash the sesame seeds into a paste using a coarse mortar and pestle (a Mexican molcajete works well for this) or a spice grinder. Mix in the sugar, rice wine, and soy sauce.

2. Boil a pot of salted water and prepare a bath of ice water. Rinse the greens. If using spinach bunches, you can keep them intact during the blanching process and trim off the stems and roots afterwards. When the water is boiling, submerge the greens into the water for just under a minute and then quickly drain and toss into the ice water bath. 

3. Wait a minute and then drain the cooled greens, wringing out excess water. Lay the greens on a cutting board. Trim off the roots of the spinach if necessary and chop the greens into 1 inch strips. Toss with the sesame sauce and serve.


Elly said...

Gosh, that looks good! Excellent work recreating a restaurant dish!

Anna said...

I found black sesame seeds at my local market! I'm looking forward to grinding this up.

Anonymous said...


We are looking for new recipes for the Ume Grill Cart eatery this Summer, using local varietals, that we can purchase in quantity, and with ease of use, and of course, cost effective for our consumers. This is beautiful, thanks for the inspiration. Helen and Rayton

Karen said...

Helen and Rayton, I'm looking forward to sampling your new summer menu items at Ume Grill!