This is one of the most typical ichiju sansai side dishes, and so easy to make! Cook for just a minute or two to get the texture of the spinach just right, contrasting the softness of the spinach with a hint of sharply salty, umami-rich sauce!
Have you ever boiled spinach and did your best to squeeze out the excess water, only to find that the dish you served ended up soggy? Well some people might like their spinach that way (I did as a child!) but if you don’t, or if you want to try something new, here’s a good method to get rid of that extra moisture: wash it with soy sauce.
Yes, you read that right! After squeezing out the water, simply put the spinach in a bowl with some soy sauce and gently mix. The soy sauce’s salt content will naturally draw out the spinach’s water content, “washing” it of the excess moisture. This method also leaves the spinach with a noticeably different texture and taste. Soy sauce is also good for removing strong meaty or fishy smells while adding flavour, so you can also try “washing” your meat or seafood with soy sauce too!
If you have some time on your hands, you could also try pickling your spinach in a dashi-tsuyu mix for 2-3 hours, after squeezing out the water. The dashi’s umami will permeate the spinach, drawing out a depth of flavour you never knew was there!
If you’re pressed for time and just need to get a healthy side dish on the table… try the recipe below!
First prepare the dashi shoyu. In a small sauce pan, bring the mirin to a boil, reduce to low and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate the alcohol in it. Then add the soy sauce and kombu and continue to heat over low for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then refrigerate.
Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a pinch of salt, then add the spinach, stems first. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then rinse with cold water and drain.
Squeeze out the excess water, cut into 3-4 cm long sections, then squeeze again.
Put the spinach in 2 small bowls, garnish with katsuobushi and drizzle the dashi shoyu over it.