RECIPE: Spinach Ohitashi (Spinach Steeped in Dashi)

RECIPE: Spinach Ohitashi (Spinach Steeped in Dashi)

 

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.

 

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

Instructions

  1. Cut off the roots of the spinach if attached and make a cross-shaped cut at the base of the thick shaft. Wash in a bowl of water and drain.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the spinach starting from its base and boil for about about 1½  to 2 mins then drain.
  3. Gather the spinach by the roots and wring out the water. Align and cut into 3-4cm pieces. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the dashi and soy sauce. Add ⅓ of this mixture to the spinach, mix and then squeeze out the liquid. This adds flavor to the spinach and prevents it from getting soggy.
  5. Add the rest of the dashi and soy sauce mixture from step 4 to the spinach and let sit for a while to let the flavors blend.
  6. Place in a small bowl and top with katsuobushi.

 

Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman

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.

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