Tag Archives: gomaae

Open, Sesame! Sesame Sauce Secrets

18 Dec

For matching traditional taste and foreigner’s enjoy of Japanese foods,

can use sesame easily in the dressing.

Creamy nuts taste is liked by everyone.

sesame dressed salad
Sesame dressed salad

I’m often asked my advice on products and brands by those who want to cook more Japanese foods, but just aren’t sure what to do when they enter their local Asian supermarket. “What’s the big deal?” I thought, “all you have to do is read the labels”. After a recent trip, however, I realized how often those labels were written only in Japanese! So here goes my first attempt at introducing you to one multi-purpose (and uber-delicious) Japanese-only labelled product: Goma-shabu, a sesame dip.

As you may know, the insanely popular salad, spinach goma-ae translates literally to “spinach dressed with sesame”, but you can make anything goma-ae with the addition of some sesame sauce. I don’t know how or why it happened, but North American sushi shops abandoned the  traditional soy-sauce based dressing (easily made with soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sugar) for a richer, creamy-style sesame dressing (warning to those with allergies – I highly suspect many of them use a peanut-based sauce). And despite my disdain for this inauthentic topping for spinach gomaae (it isn’t the real deal! Don’t be fooled into thinking the Japanese eat anything like it at home) I must admit that a creamy sesame sauce is damned delicious. The closest pre-bottled dressing I can find for those who want to recreate their favourite restaurant treat at home is Goma-shabu. It’s not only tasty, but also versatile.

So here is the bottle:




And here is how to use it:

  • use it straight up as a salad dressing on a green salad, tofu salad, or noodle salad
  • mix in a few tablespoons with a can of tuna for a twist on tuna salad
  • on a tuna sashimi & avocado donburi – arrange sliced sashimi and avos on a hot bed of rice, pour on a little dressing and top with crushed sesame seeds to garnish
  • stir it into a bowl of grilled or BBQ-ed vegetables like eggplant, zucchini squash and pumpkin
  • use it for its original purpose, as a dip for hotpot. It’s specifically meant for beef shabu-shabu, but I use it for veggie and seafood hotpots as well



Seafood hotpot with sesame sauce and ponzu sauce

Really, anything I put it on tastes better. Shake it well, as it separates, and try it on anything else you fancy.

Happy forking!



Spinach Gomaae

24 Oct

One of most popular Japanese dish, simple preparation is best feature.

Enjoy to squeeze the water out, making leaves tender.

Pleasure of health by eating.

Spinach Gomaae

Spinach Gomaae

Gomaae salads in North America are usually presented with spinach, but you can make a variety of things in gomaae style. (Goma = sesame, Ae = to dress.) Although the custom is generally to undress before forking, this dressing is so yummy, you’ll prefer to be dressed for this forking sesssion. Dressings vary from cook to cook, so see the suggestions below for four different takes on this ever-popular dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 bunches of spinach, or the guu (filling) of your choice (see “Variations” section”)
  • Goma dressing (choose variation appealing to you)
Ingredient Recipe 1 Recipe 2 Recipe 3 Recipe 4
Freshly ground sesame seeds (NOT tahini) 4 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 4 Tbsp
Sugar 2 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 1 ½ Tbsp 1 Tbsp
Soy Sauce 1 ½ tsp 2 Tbsp 1 ½ Tbsp 1 Tbsp
Sesame oil ¾  – 1 tsp 3 Tbsp

How to make Spinach Gomaae

  1. Prepare and set aside the dressing.
  2. Wash and boil the greens. Boil and salt plenty of water, drop in washed leaves and boil until just wilted.
  3. Drain wilted leaves into a colander and plunge into a large bowl of icy cold water.
  4. Once greens have cooled, drain them again and then squeeze out the water (be quite firm). The leaves will be much smaller in size – don’t be surprised.
  5. Prepare portions: Shape the squeezed greens into a thick log-shape, and cut into individual portion sizes. Put each portion into a small dish and dress just before serving. (Toss the dressing through the guu if you prefer.)


Toss any of the following (or any combination of the following) with the dressing for a simple side-dish

  • Salt-massaged vegetables: e.g. daikon radish, carrot, cucumber which has been thinly sliced, salted and “massaged”, left to leech moisture for 20+ minutes, and then squeezed out.
  • Steamed vegetables: e.g. green beans, thinly sliced potato
  • Sauteed vegetables: e.g. mushrooms, okra
  • Steamed or boiled meats: e.g. chicken, sliced pork
  • Raw fish: sashimi-grade tuna (cut into cubes) or slices of tuna carpaccio – great with avocado

Not the same as the creamy “gomaae” dressings you’ll find at most Japanese restaurants (some of which taste as though they are made from peanuts and not sesame) you can substitute the above recipe with a pre-made sesame dressing. Try sesame shabu shabu dipping sauce if you prefer to fork something creamy and rich.

Happy forking!