Japanese Spinach, known as oshitashi, is a vibrant veggie side dish that is so quick and easy. We’re talking on the table in 10 minutes quick. The spinach is blanched to retain its bright color (and nutrients!) and then served with a deeply flavorful sauce. You can serve it with katsuobushi flakes on top, or make it vegan by using toasted sesame seeds instead. Either way, this traditional Japanese treatment of spinach deserves a place on your table.
A Quick Sauce
The sauce for this dish is so savory with depths of flavor. It relies on Japanese standbys like mirin, soy sauce, and dashi for deep flavor, fast.
The reason we need to bring the sauce to a simmer is that mirin raw sometimes has an alcoholic aftertaste. Bringing it to a simmer cooks it off and gives the sauce a more balanced flavor. It’s a quick step but is key in a recipe with so few ingredients and steps.
Once the sauce comes together in a simmer, remove it from the heat and it’s time to prep the spinach.
Blanching is a cooking process where vegetables and fruit are dunked in boiling water for a brief time, and then “shocked” by either placing in an ice bath or running under cool water to stop the cooking process. This does several things-it helps retain both the color and nutrients, and removes the raw taste/texture. Sturdier veggies like carrots can take a few minutes to get to the desired doneness, but spinach takes just seconds.
Now the only thing left to do is to garnish with either katsuobushi flakes or sesame seeds. Or both, go crazy!
Katsuobushi flakes, which are widely used in Japanese cooking, are fine shreds of dried smoked bonito, a cousin of tuna. The blocks of prepared bonito are shaved whisper thin and almost look like wood shavings. The bold smokey flavor of katsuobushi is prized in making dashi (the broth that is the backbone of Japanese cuisine), sauces, and also as a condiment/flavoring for foods such as omusubi or Japanese rice balls.
The dashi powder that I often use, including in this recipe, is an instant product similar to bouillon cubes, which gives you some of the flavor that homemade dashi in a fraction of the time and much more economically.
A generous pinch of katsuobushi flakes give the spinach a little texture and a big hit of umami flavor. I think the sesame oil and the katsuobushi combined give this dish some sophistication and interest. If you’ve never tried katsuobushi before, this is the perfect dish because the simple steamed spinach really allows you to focus on the additional flavors.
Japanese Spinach is delightful served with rice and pickles as a light, simple meal, and makes an excellent side for Adobo Chicken or Miso Salmon. When a delicious side is so quick to make, the possibilities are endless. Let me know what you serve it with by commenting below, we love hearing from you! And of course tag us in your gorgeous food pics @funkyasiankitchen.Print
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: side
- Cuisine: Japanese
- 2 bags of spinach (about 8 ounces)
- 2 Tablespoons mirin
- 1 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 Tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon dashi powder
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 large generous pinch katsuobushi or 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Put the mirin, soy sauce, dashi powder, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. As soon as it starts to simmer, turn off the heat and stir. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the spinach and stir the pot. As soon as the spinach is wilted, approximately 30 seconds, drain the spinach in a colander and cool under running water.
- Squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach and place on a cutting board and form into a thick log. Cut the spinach log into 3-4 pieces. Set the spinach into a serving bowl.
- Pour the sauce gently around the spinach, garnish the top with katsuobushi flakes, and serve.
Keywords: japanese spinach, healthy sides