This recipe, from the NYT Recipes for Health column, is delicious. My notes in brackets.
Japanese Spinach With Sesame Dressing
1 1/2 pounds spinach
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake [mirin is a good substitute, or probably vermouth or sherry]
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Blanch the spinach for 10 to 20 seconds in the boiling water and transfer to the ice water using a deep-fry skimmer. Drain and gently squeeze out water. Chop coarsely. [alternately, and more quickly: Cut off any thick stems, wash the spinach but don’t dry it. Put it in a covered pot with the water that’s left clinging to the leaves & cook just until wilted.]
2. Make the dressing. If your sesame seeds have not been toasted, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and add the sesame seeds. Stir and shake the pan constantly, and as soon as the seeds turn golden and smell nutty, transfer to a suribachi mortar and pestle or to a spice mill. Allow to cool. Grind the seeds just until crushed. [A regular mortar & pestle works just as well as the fancy suribachi one, or you can keep the sesame seeds whole.]
3. Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sake and water, then stir in the ground sesame seeds. Thin out with water. Toss with the spinach and stir together until the dressing infuses the spinach. Be careful not to bruise the spinach leaves. Divide into four small bunches and place in the middle of four small plates or bowls. Drizzle on a few drops of sesame oil. Serve at room temperature.
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