There’s nothing better than having an arsenal of quick and delicious veggie sides. Something you can throw together while your main is cooking, but doesn’t taste thrown together. I’ve been making these Sesame Green Beans for years and we never grow tired of them. They are a welcomed lighter side dish for holiday meals, but they find their way to my table all year long. And when you see how fast and easy they are, they will quickly become a favorite in your house too!
These Sesame Green Beans are my take on a classic Japanese dish called Goma-ae. Goma means sesame, and the -ae refers to saucing or dressing. You can make nearly any vegetables in the Goma-ae style. Green beans and spinach are both really popular, but bean sprouts, carrots, cabbage and burdock root are all delicious this way as well.
Roasted sesame seeds provide nutty richness to this simple dish. Because this dish is so simple and spare, each ingredient is critical and needs to be perfectly prepared. Even though I buy roasted sesame seeds at my local grocery store, I always re-toast them to bring out all of the flavor. This step is crucial in creating a beautifully fragrant sauce, so don’t skip it. And if you can only find raw seeds, toast them for a couple minutes longer before starting.
Once they are a deep golden brown, I grind them in a mortar. I have a Japanese mortar and pestle, called a suribachi and surikoji, but any kind will work. If you don’t have a mortar/pestle, you can grind the seeds in pulses in a food processor or spice grinder. But take care not to pulverize them into a paste. The little bits of seeds add great texture.
Then the sesame seeds get a few pantry ingredients added to round out the sauce.
Blanch the Green Beans
Boil the green beans until they are tender but still have a vivid color. No one wants mushy green beans, but I prefer these beans not to have a crisp texture. I feel like you get a more beany flavor when they are fully cooked, which pairs well with the thick sauce.
Mix the beans really thoroughly with the sesame sauce, and they’re ready to serve. I will definitely include Sesame Green Beans on my Thanksgiving menu. This recipe also easily doubles or triples and you can make both the sauce and the beans ahead of time, keeping them in separate containers. Toss the beans with the sauce when you are ready to serve.
These beans are also wonderful served with Mom’s Chicken or Miso Salmon. Let me know how you enjoy them by commenting or rating the recipe, and by tagging us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love hearing from you!
- 12 ounces green beans
- 6 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons mirin
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Put the sesame seeds in a dry skillet and toast them over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, moving the seeds around constantly to toast them evenly.
- Put the sesame seeds in a mortar and grind them until the majority of seeds are ground.
- Add the soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sesame oil to the ground sesame and mix well.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the green beans and stir the pot. Boil the green beans for 2-3 minutes until tender but still bright green.
- Drain in a colander and cool under running water. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the beans in half.
- Transfer the beans to the mortar. Or if your mortar is small, scrape the dressing into a larger bowl and add the beans to the bowl.
- Mix well with clean hands until all the beans are well coated in the dressing. Transfer to serving bowls.
*If you cannot find roasted sesame seeds, you can use raw sesame seeds. Heat a dry skillet over medium low heat and add the sesame seeds. Toast them in a pan for 10-15 minutes moving the sesame seeds around constantly to toast them evenly and keep them from burning.
Keywords: holiday sides, sesame green beans, japanese, goma-ae, healthy asian food, plant based