Oshitashi or goma-ae? Whatever. It’s spinach salad with roasted sesame dressing

casaveneracion.com Oshitashi with goma-ae (Japanese spinach with roasted sesame dressing)

When I first came across this spinach recipe in The New York Times health section, it was labeled as an appetizer. The recipe itself was not all that simple — the dressing had to be boiled and reduced. Wondering if there were simpler versions, I searched around using “Japanese spinach sesame seeds” as a key phrase. The results were confusing. In some sites, the very same dish is called oshitashi; in others, it is goma-ae. What the heck? So, I did several more searches. After visiting a dozen food websites and blogs, and fifteen minutes of reading, I think it goes like this — oshitashi is the name of the dish; goma-ae is the name of the sesame dressing.

Of course, what’s in a name? It was just curiosity that drove me to search. What’s important is what drew me to the dish, to begin with. The recipe is so easy, the ingredients are quite inexpensive and, looking over the ingredient list and procedure, I was 99% sure that the result would be good. Ergo, three things made the recipe attractive: simplicity, economy and anticipated deliciousness. If it turns out that I’m wrong about the distinction between oshitashi and goma-ae, I don’t really care. This is a very easy, tasty and cheap vegetable dish that you can serve as a salad, an appetizer, a side dish or even as a light main dish.

Recipe: Japanese spinach salad with roasted sesame dressing


  • a large bag of spinach
  • 2 tbsps. of sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce (I used Kikkoman)
  • 1/2 tsp. of sweet rice wine (sake or mirin)
  • 3/4 tbsp. of sugar
  • drizzle of sesame seed oil (optional)


  1. If the spinach stalks are rather large and tough, pick the leaves and discard the stalks. Otherwise, include the stalks in the dish and just roughly chop everything.
  2. Boil water in a large pot. Add 1 tsp. of salt. Blanch the spinach for about a minute. Drain. Dump in a bowl of iced water. Drain. Squeeze out as much water as you can (see squeezing excess water from spinach). Place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Make the dressing. Dry toast the sesame seeds in a pan (see illustration).
  4. While the seeds are hot, roughly pound using a mortar or pestle. Alternatively, pulse in a blender or food processor. Don’t turn it into a paste — you just want the seeds to release some of its oil and aroma.
  5. Transfer the sesame seeds to a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and blend the flavors.
  6. Pour 1 tbsp. of the dressing on the spinach. Toss. Taste. Depending on how much spinach you have, you may need more than a tablespoonful of dressing. So, add more dressing, if needed. Drizzle some sesame oil, if using, toss a few more times and serve.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2 to 3


  1. says

    Hi Connie,

    This is similar to the Korean namul (or is it namuro). I found it once in Just Bento. Although that was much simpler and is better paired with some sort of protein, I’ll give your version a try.

  2. says

    Thanks for linking up with my goma-ae recipe. Your Ohitashi looks very delicious!

    The word Oshitashi is some sort of direct but the original word is Ohitashi (‘hi’ instead of ‘shi’).

    Ohitashi comes from the verb “hitasu” which means to soak. So if your dressing/sauce is more like liquid form, then Ohitashi.

    On the other hand, goma-ae or any kind of “aemono” comes from the verb “aeru” which means to mix/blend ingredients with the sauce.

    Sorry it’s kind of long explanation. I thought I should mention since I know the answer… :-)

    Thanks again! Your blog looks wonderful. I’m a new follower!

    • says

      Oh, wow, thank you for all those details. It’s so wonderful to learn something new everyday. :)

      Your blog is awesome. I’m working up the courage to try your agedashi tofu. :)

  3. Agatha Galang- Yamada says

    Hi Ms. Connie!

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time (even before I got married!) and now living in Tokyo for about 3 and a half years now; with toddler in tow. I remember my first 3 months there I cooked just either adobo/ sinigang/ adobo (yes! I was a poor cook :/) for my patient, discerning husband (lol). I think my Japanese mom-in-law noticed this one way or the other,hehe. And so she taught me all this easy to make, healthy vegetable side dishes- hourenso (spinach) ohitashi included. Just to share, you can substitute the spinach with mungbeans as well as other leafy green veggies similar to spinach (kangkong would definitely do!). The gomaae dressing also goes well with crunchy veggies (cucumber/carrots/celery). What I do is I cut up the veggies in advance, ziplock it and put it in the freezer and just put it out and mix it with the gomaae come meal time. Saves time and energy, and makes for a healthy meal for all of us- hubby, me and our little one included! :)