Ohitashi: Boiled Greens with Soy Sauce and Sesame Seeds
This is a quick vegetable side-dish; the kind of thing that gives the Japanese diet its reputation for being fearsomely healthy. There’s really not a lot to it: just boiled greens with a simple, light sauce. Very simple to make, surprisingly delicious.
How Japanese is ohitashi? The word first appeared in print in 1517, but some ancient texts from the Nara period suggests people have been eating it since at least the 8th century!
And why shouldn’t they? Light, easy to make and delicious, Ohitashi is a dish for the ages.
Ingredients (for four)
- A generous bunch of spinach – you need the whole plant, not just the leaves.
For the sauce
- 100 ml water
- 1/2 tea-spoon of Dashi
- 1/2 table spoon of mirin (sweetened sake)
- 1.5 table spoons of soy sauce
- Microwave 100 ml of water until boiling hot
- Dissolve the dashi
- Add the soy sauce and mirin and stir
- Wash the spinach – especially the base – without taking them apart
- Bring a quart of water to a boil
- Dunk in the spinach base first, leaves on top
- Mix in and boil for about 1.5~2 minutes.
- Drain and run under cold water to cool.
- Grab by the base and squeeze out the excess moisture.
- Cut the greens into 4 cm. long segments
- Place in a bowl, add the sauce and mix a little bit
- Let it sit in the sauce for at least 15 minutes to absorb the flavor
At the table, sprinkle with sesame seeds or katsuobushi.
This is the full version.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to bother with sauce, you can just sprinkle a little bit of soy sauce on top of the boiled greens: we call that ohitashi too!