What are your rituals when you return to your home town after being away for many years? I left Vancouver 16 years ago for Toronto in what was intended to be an 18 month stay while I went to school…and, yet, hereI am still here in Toronto.
There are many things I miss about summer in Vancouver: running around the Stanley Park Sea Wall, celebrating the end of the Grouse Grind with a beer at the top of the mountain, swimming lengths at Kits Pool, gathering & enjoying great food at Granville Island, picnics on Kits Beach, the Museum of Anthropology (if just to see the amazing Bill Reid sculpture), Bard on the Beach…and the list could go on and on…
But one thing that I always do when I am home for a visit, no matter the time of year, is indulge in a sushi/sashimi feast with my mother. We may order a big box in to enjoy at home or we may go out, but a visit home is not complete without a big “sushi feed”.
And we always have to include an order of Spinach Goma-Ae – as it my mother’s favourite. When I came across this recipe recently, I decided to try it out in honour of her birthday a few weeks ago.
Spinach Goma-Ae (for 2 – 3 servings)
1. Add about a cup of water to a large pot over medium heat and throw in about 440 grams (about 16oz) of baby spinach. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes. Check every five minutes, stir, and remove from heat when the spinach is wilted.
2. Dump the wilted spinach in a large colander in the sink and run cold water over to stop the cooking process. Then squeeze out the excess water from the spinach to get it as dry as possible before stage 5 below.
3. Toast 35 grams of black sesame seeds. You can use white sesame seeds; black is just so much more dramatic! And you can use your toaster oven or a small skillet on the stove. Just make sure that you don’t burn them.
4. Once toasted, grind them into small pieces: you can use a mortar & pestle or a wee food processor for this stage. When ground, add about 1 tbsp of sugar and grind in. Then add about 4 tsp of tamari sauce (you can use soy sauce as a substitute) and mix all together into a paste.
5. Remove the spinach from the colander to a cutting board and chop up into fine pieces.
6. Mix the chopped spinach with the sesame seed paste. Serve cold as a side dish.
I find that the tamari/soy sauce adds enough salti-ness to offset the sugar but you may want to adjust for taste. I’ve also tried this substituting green beans for spinach which worked out well: you could also try the sesame seed paste with blanched chard or kale if that is available.