Easy Ohitashi (Japanese Spinach Bundles)

Ohitashi are a classic of Japanese cuisine. Typically, the spinach is marinated in a broth based on “dashi” which is a broth made of dried smoked bonito flakes and seaweed. This is a simpler version using water.  To make this even easier, simply remove the stems entirely from the dish, then microwave the spinach to wilt it. This keeps in the refrigerator for a couple days.

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of spinach, root crowns snipped off and used for another dish, stems trimmed even
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Seasoning
2 cups water or light vegetable stock
4 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking sake)
4 tablespoons soy sauce

METHOD:

Place the seasoning ingredients together in a jar or bowl and mix well.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

Keeping the spinach in a bundle, wash in plenty of cold water until clean.

Use a piece of kitchen string to tie the spinach in a bundle around the stems.

Hold the spinach by the leaves and submerge just the stems into the boiling water, cooking for 2 minutes or until just tender. At this point, submerge the rest of the bundle and cook just until the leaves wilts.

Drain and rinse in cold water.

Remove from the water in a bundle and drain, squeezing gently to remove as much water as possible.

Pour the seasoning over the spinach and marinate 30 minutes.

Remove from the seasoning and transfer the bundle to a bamboo sushi-rolling mat. Cut stems from the leaves and set aside. Roll the leaves to form a 1 to 2 inch log. Slice the log into 1½ inch lengths. Do the same with the stems.

To serve, dip one end of the bundles into the sesame seeds and stand on the other end in a bowl. Pour some of the seasoning into the bowl and serve chilled or room temperature.

Chef’s Tips:
If you want to keep this really simple and quick, just trim the crowns from the stems and blanch the spinach as instructed above. Instead of rolling the spinach, just cool it and drain it, and then cut the whole bundle into 1 inch lengths. Pour the seasoning over the spinach and marinate 30 minutes. To serve, just pinch some of the spinach up and drain off the liquid and transfer to a bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve. The high-speed version is to cut off the stems, wash the spinach and cook it in the microwave until wilted. Rinse to cool, wrap it in a towel and squeeze out excess moisture, then season. Serve as above.

Yield:  Serves 4