Tuesday, October 22, 2013

KALE WITH JAPANESE SESAME DRESSING

Sesame dressing seems to make everyone gobble down heaps of greens with abandon. This flavorful dressing is easy to make and it quickly transforms simple blanched kale or spinach into an irresistible dish.

A few months ago, one of our favorite restaurants closed. O Chame and their fresh, soulful Japanese food always made our family happy - after decades of belly-warming meals, we were heartbroken to see it go. O Chame's blanched spinach with sesame dressing was a perennial favorite. (I have to say... there's nothing more satisfying than watching kids devour a huge plate of greens, only to ask for more!) I've been working on tweaking the flavors for my own sesame dressing for a while now - I even consulted my friend Doug who did a stint working at O Chame. 

For you loyalists out there, this dish will not taste exactly like O Chame's beloved sesame spinach, but the flavors should make you nostalgic, for sure. While sesame dressing is traditionally served with blanched spinach, I really enjoy using heartier kale as my greens here. Give it a try...either way, it's darned tasty.

Do you have a Japanese sesame dressing recipe to share? I'd love to hear about it!


A note on ingredients: I suggest looking for toasted white sesame seeds, Mirin, tamari, and rice wine vinegar at your local Japanese/Asian market.

INGREDIENTS
printable recipe
  • 1 1/2 -2 pounds kale, tough ribs removed - spinach is also delicious
  • 1/2 cup toasted white sesame seeds (if you can't find toasted seeds, you can buy raw sesame seeds and quickly toast them yourself)
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin (sweet sake for cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons GF Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • optional: 2 teaspoons light agave nectar (I find kale likes this extra hit of sweet) 
  • optional: if you are the type of person who happens to have dashi on hand, add a splash or two to the dressing

Heat a large pot full of water for blanching the greens.  

In 2 batches, blanch kale leaves in unsalted water for a 1-2 minutes until greens are tender and vibrant green. The age, size and heartiness of your kale will determine how long you'll need to cook the leaves. After about a minute of cooking, I pull out a leaf to start tasting for doneness. (Keep in mind that spinach should only need 20-30 seconds to blanch.) Use tongs to remove blanched greens from the hot water.

Let your cooked greens cool to room temp in a colander while you blanch another batch. Place the second batch of cooked greens into the colander to cool with the first batch. (If you have a garden, save your blanching water. Let it fully cool, then use that nutrient-rich liquid to water your plants.) 

While the greens are cooling, go ahead and make your dressing. Using a mortar and pestle or food processor, blend toasted sesame seeds, Mirin, Tamari, rice vinegar, and agave. It's easier to achieve a creamier consistency using a food processor, but sometimes I prefer the therapeutic labor of a mortar and pestle.


When the kale has cooled to room temp, grab half of the greens and squeeze them between your hands to removed excess liquid. The cooked greens will stick together in a log-shaped clump after being squeezed together in your hands. Take that roll of greens and slice it into 1/2 inch wide strips then transfer chopped leaves to a mixing bowl. 

Before dressing your salad, keep in mind that this recipe gives you a VERY generous amount of dressing. You may only need to use as little as half the dressing. (Feel free to save the remaining dressing in a lidded container in the fridge for another batch of greens.) We like a ton of dressing on our kale, so we use it all in one go. Toss greens and dressing with your hands to fully coat the leaves with the toasted sesame goodness.



This dish can be served at room temp or slightly chilled. It also travels well.  

Serves 4 

43 comments:

  1. Scrumptious! I love that dressing.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Thanks Rosa! I cannot believe it took me so long to make this dressing at home. It really is tasty!
      xo
      E

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  2. I do so love the flavours in this salad - bright and fresh and wholesome! I bet it's very difficult to stop eating; can't wait to give it a try!

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    1. Kathryn, do let me know if you give the recipe a try. I'd love to hear what you think!
      xoxo
      E

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  3. Many a comfort meal was had at O Chame - One of our favorite places as well: pancakes, udon soup with soba noodles, that salad.....

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    1. For sure, Renee. We were all SO sad when they closed. Otis sobbed throughout our last meal. One of these days I need to figure out how to make the pancakes;)
      xoxoxo to you and your guys,
      E

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  4. KALE! So perfect for fall--you have to love it. (Er, unless you're a small child, I suppose...anyway.) This sesame dressing sounds fantastic with winter greens!

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    1. Eileen, I'm loving the dressing with both kale and spinach. I'd like to try it with collards too. Could be really good.
      xoxo
      E

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  5. Hello Erin!
    Lucky me I have everything I need for this at home. I am already looking forward to dinner time!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Eva

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  6. This dressing sounds great! Such a simple dish, but so much flavor; I love it. Cooking Asian is my favorite and this looks like the perfect side to a coconut milk-rich curry or the like. Delicious! And just so pretty, too.

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    1. Oh yes, a coconut milk-rich curry sounds so good about now:)
      xoxo
      E

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  7. This looks fantastic, Erin! It's always sad to see a favorite restaurant go (or to move away from your favorites - I'm still mourning a bit from that myself!), but being able to recreate the best dishes at home surely softens the blow. I want to give this recipe a go - kale would be my hearty green of choice as well!

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  8. Hey Stacy, it really is sad! It's amazing how attached we get to restaurants, especially when their food is so comforting.
    Hope all is well with you!
    xoxo
    E

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  9. Love the look and sounds of this dressing. There's something so delicious and satisfying about a big plate of greens with sesame, love that combination of flavors. Hope you're well, Erin! xoxo

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    1. Denise, I think you'd really enjoy it! So easy and good.xoxo E

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  10. I like to try to sneak Kale in my diet as much as possible. This sounds like a keeper. I will have to try it soon. I love most Asian things and this is something I can have! Thanks! Good to hear from you.

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    1. Oli, I like that you "sneak" in the kale. Usually, we eat simple steamed kale with olive oil and salt, but this dressing turns up the flavor in a great way. I'm so glad all the ingredients work for you! xoxo E

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  11. I love this type of salad, Erin, even though I have to admit I'm not familiar with this dressing. I'd love to try it though and as soon as I get my hands on some good kale, I will.
    Love your photographs, that deep, green color jumps out of the screen!
    xoxo

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    1. Magda, Thanks:)

      If you can't find kale, try the dressing with spinach... SO good! xoxo E

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  12. Haha, so true! I am never one to order a dish of "vegetables in brown sauce" at a restaurant, but if that brown sauce happens to be sesame-based? Pure bliss (the other brown sauces are usually tasty too.... they just sound unappealing).

    It's sad to lose a favorite restaurant. I'm guessing that (like me) you enjoy it for the atmosphere and the memories of how the food tasted on previous visits as much as you enjoy the food in-the-present. At least now you can look back fondly on those memories as you pay homage to them by recreating similar dishes at home:) xo

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    1. Emma, brown sauce;) Yes, not the prettiest or most appealing. But damn it does taste good!

      It sounds hokey, but loosing O Chame felt like loosing a good friend. We celebrated countless birthdays, anniversaries, date nights, lunches with my mom, girls' nights, family dinners, and even memorials at that spot. Paul and I think we've eaten more meals there than any other restaurant! And my kids were so attached and would scarf anything on the menu. There was magic in the food. Sniff.

      xoxo
      E

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  13. I love the apron. Love this recipe. Kale is one of our staples. This is just another one to bookmark.

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  14. I love this kind of earthy, full of flavour salad. I've been taking massaged kale in for my packed lunches with various grains and proteins - will have to try this out. Do you think it would keep, dressed, for a little while?

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    1. Don't you love how well massaged kale keeps! Fantastic. Yes, this salad travels really well too.
      xoxo
      E

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  15. Ate loads of something very similar to this in Korea....finally can make some it at home! Looks delicious :)

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    1. Interesting. Now Korea's a place I'd like to visit. SO much good food.
      xoxo
      E

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  16. Beautiful Erin! I love kale and your dressing sounds amazing, pinning this! Hugs!!

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  17. LOVING anything Kale! This salad sounds amazing. Your dressing is a winner and will be making this dish soon. Hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend. Our Bay Area weather should be a perfect fall forecast for the weekend. Enjoy!

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  18. Lisa! Us too... We are definitely crazy for greens around here. And we are deeply enjoying this gorgeous weather. I hope you are too.

    xoxo
    E

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  19. Love, love, love Asian-inspired dressings on greens. And love that cute little apron, too. ;)

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    1. Me too Carolyn! We need to rock more Asian food at home. My kids can't get enough and P and I love the flavors too.
      xoxo
      E

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  20. This looks absolutely gorgeous - sesame dressings on any greens is my favourite way to eat veggies!

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    1. Sarah, I'm not sure why it took me so long to make this dressing at home... I'm psyched to now have it in my bag of tricks:)
      xo
      E

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  21. I love kale and we eat lots of it - hurray for another new recipe and this sounds delicious. Off to the farmshop for more kale...

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  22. :) Happy kale eating to you Anna!
    xo

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  23. looks yummy! thanks for sharing!

    http://thestoryofayna.blogspot.com/

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  24. I am so happy to have found you!! You are my kind of cook!!! Love the kale salad and will be making lots of it!!! Thank you so very much!!!

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  25. I just made this the other day and what an awesome recipe it is! Thanks for sharing it! I am going to try it out as dressing for griddled aubergine as well one day.

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    1. Oh I bet the dressing would be so good on aubergine... yum! Great idea!

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So good to hear from you... I appreciate each and every note you leave for me!

Thanks,
E

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