Komatsuna no Goma-Ae

Komatsuna is a slightly tangy Japanese vegetable similar to spinach. When topped with Goma-Ae, or toasted sesame sauce, you’ll find a perfectly satisfying contrast of sweet and spicy flavors. Don’t be concerned if you can’t locate komatsuna – almost any leafy green can be used in this dish with delicious results. My favorite local sushi restaurant makes a wonderful version using broccoli rabe! Experiment. Try using regular spinach, chard, kale or beet greens.

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Toasting sesame seeds doesn’t take very long, so be sure to stand guard at the stove and stir or shake the seeds frequently to avoid burning. I use an old coffee grinder to grind my toasted sesame seeds as it yields the thick, floury consistency I like. My grinder comes in handy during holiday baking as well, when it powers out mounds of ground hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds. If you decide to do this, be sure to use a grinder dedicated to nuts and seeds to avoid unwanted coffee flavors.

I should mention that my goma-ae recipe is a tad non-traditional. I was deeply honored when my good friend Chiharu complemented my sauce: “This is a delicious goma-ae, Alison-san. What did you do?”

“Um. I added sake”, I replied cautiously.

Chiharu tilted her head and looked at me. “Ee? Sake? Why didn’t I think of that?”

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Komatsuna (Japanese Mustard Greens)

2 bunches komatsuna, or other fresh, leafy green vegetable

Komatsuna no Goma-Ae 1

Fill a large, heavy pot with water, add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. In the meantime, wash and trim greens. Add the greens to the boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the greens and immediately rinse with cold water to retain the bright green color. Carefully wring all excess water from greens, then chop into 1 ½ -inch lengths. Arrange on end in small dishes and top with goma-ae. Can be served hot or cold.

Makes 4 servings.

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Komatsuna no Goma-Ae 9


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6 tablespoons hulled white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake (or substitute water)

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Pour sesame seeds into a heavy frying pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring or shaking frequently, until the seeds turn a deep golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes. Let cool. Using a mortar and pestle, or coffee mill or other means, finely grind seeds into a thick powder. Leave some seeds whole, if you like.

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Put ground sesame seeds into a small mixing bowl. Add sugar, soy sauce, and sake (or water) to make a thick sauce. Add more sake (or water) if you like for a thinner consistency.

Makes about 1 cup of goma-ae.

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Komatsuna no Goma-Ae
Komatsuna no Goma-Ae


6 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks so good. I love the greens and the ground sesame seeds together. What a great flavor profile. I will look for this dish when I go to my favorite Japanese restaurant here in Nashville. Thanks for sharing this dish.

    1. MixerUpper says:

      Thanks, Teresa! Please let me know if you find it!

  2. Itadakimasu! Beautiful presentation and love how neatly you lined up the vegetables before cutting them. I can’t wait to try this dish. Ja Mata, BAM

    1. MixerUpper says:

      Arigato gozaimashita, BAM! Hope you like it – don’t forget the sake. 😉

  3. Love it. Beautiful presentation and I’m sure flavorful beyond belief. 🙂

    1. MixerUpper says:

      Thank you, Richard! Coming from you, with all of your tantalizing dishes, that really means a lot. 🙂

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