One of my constant battle in eating well is consuming enough leafy vegetables; Malaysian food is severely lacking in greens. In Vietnam, each dish comes with a huge plate of local vegetables and herbs. In Japan and Korea, where presentation of food is very important, meals are mostly accompanied with colourful vegetables.
When I came back from a short stay with my Japanese host family, I was encouraged to eat like a Japanese for breakfast. The huge traditional meal which consist of plenty of greens kept me full and energetic until late noon. Okaasan serves the same breakfast everyday: rice, miso soup, fried egg, salad with sesame sauce and pickles. Though I normally do not like salad, I found incredible joy in eating them because the lettuce and tomatoes are planted and harvested from Otoosan’s farm.
When I’m back home, I did make Japanese breakfast once in a while. But I realise that I always skip making the salad; raw vegetables from the market don’t taste the same as those harvested directly from farm. “Wakame is green right?” I lied to myself, as I ate my ‘vegetable-less’ Japanese breakfast.
So in my attempt to eat more leafy vegetables, I learned to make a simple Japanese Spinach Salad (ohitashi). It is just cooked spinach topped with dashi stock, soy sauce and bonito flakes. So easy to make, yet so tasty from umami-rich seasonings!
If you prefer cooked vegetables over raw salad, and like to eat more vegetables but lazy to cook elaborate meals, this is the recipe for you.
- Large bowl (to wash/soak spinach)
- Wok/ pot (to boil spinach)
- Sieve/ chopsticks (to remove spinach from wok)
- Mixing bowl (to wash spinach and place cold water)
Japanese Spinach Salad (Ohitashi)
- 100 g baby spinach
- 1/2 tbsp dashi stock
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dried bonito flakes
- Step 1 WASH THE SPINACH: Soak spinach in water.
- Step 2 BOIL SPINACH: Fill in a pot/wok with enough water to submerge spinach. Bring it to a boil. Add spinach and boil for 2 minutes.
- Step 3 TRANSFER TO COLD WATER: Remove boiled spinach into a bowl of cold water.
- Step 4 SQUEEZE & ARRANGE SPINACH: Squeeze spinach to remove excess water and arrange on a plate.
- Step 5 SEASON: Pour dashi stock and soy sauce over it. Top with dried bonito flakes.
Boil 100 g of baby spinach for 2 min. Squeeze excess water. Arrange on plate. Pour 1/2 tbsp dashi stock + 1/2 tbsp soy sauce. Top with bonito flakes.
- Buy organic baby spinach. The original recipe uses regular spinach which comes in a bundle. After squeezing the excess water, it’s then chopped into 1.5 inches long. But for convenience, I buy a packet of organic baby spinach instead. Each packet is 100g – the exact amount of this recipe. Not only do I not have to wash the vegetables throughly, I don’t have to chop it either.
- Make dashi stock in advance. In Japan, it’s easy to buy pre-made dashi. My host mother keeps a bottle in the fridge at all times. When I know I’ll like to have Japanese at home, I’ll make a big batch of dashi stock and keep in plastic bottles. It can keep in the fridge for a week. Recipe: Japanese Dashi Stock
Enjoy this simple but delicious plate of vegetables!