In Japanese cooking, taste is the main thing, but not the only thing: a meal’s color balance is also important. You should never serve a meal where all the dishes look the same. So sometimes, when I decide on a main dish and a side dish, I realize something green is lacking in the meal. Spinach namul is a great solution to that problem.
Variety is the key to color balance. So when you have something brown (often meat, or miso soup), you need to balance it with something green or red (mostly in the form of vegetables), something white (from white rice), or something yellow (egg or mustard). That, by the way, is why when I make takikomi-gohan (savory rice, which is brownish), I always serve it with osuimono (which is a clear broth) rather than with miso soup.
Quick, tasty and healthy, spinach namul is the perfect side dish when you choose a menu and realize, at the last minute, that you really need to add something green.
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.