Ohitashi is a Japanese cooking method that involves blanching vegetables in hot water, then steeping them in a dashi-based sauce. The short cooking time preserves the freshness and texture of the vegetable, while the lightly smoky dashi highlights its natural flavor. In this recipe for spinach ohitashi, we combine flavors from the earth and sea for a simple, healthy, and refined side dish.
To make spinach ohitashi, start by preparing your spinach. Wash it thoroughly and make cross-shaped cuts at the base of each stem. Next, place the spinach in salted boiling water stem-side first. Since the stems are thicker, they take longer to cook and should be submerged before the leaves. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then remove and plunge into an ice bath to halt the cooking process. At this stage, the spinach should be tender, but not mushy. Gather the spinach by its roots and wring out the excess water, then slice it into bite-sized pieces. To add textural contrast to the dish, cut the stem and leafy parts into separate sections.
Next, season the spinach. Pour ⅓ of the dashi and soy sauce mixture over the cut spinach, then wring it out once more. This infuses flavor into the spinach while ensuring it doesn’t get soggy. Then, pour the rest of the dashi and soy sauce mixture over the spinach and let it marinate for at least one hour. When you’re ready to serve, finish by garnishing with katsuobushi (bonito flakes). Spinach ohitashi can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to three days.
Cook time: 5 mins | Servings: 2
- Water for boiling spinach
- Pinch of salt
- 200g (1 bunch) spinach
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Katsuobushi (desired amount)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Boil the spinach then drain.
- Squeeze the water from the spinach and cut it to bite size pieces (lengthwise).
- Add the soy sauce and katsuobushi on top. Enjoy as is or cooled in the fridge.
- Use mentsuyu instead of soy sauce.
- Use komatsuma (mustard spinach) instead of regular spinach.
- Combine with miso and vinegar and less soy sauce.
Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.