Spinach Nori Roll
In the U.S., the peak season for fresh spinach begins in March and continues through May and then picks up again from September through October. Now is the perfect time to enjoy sweeter and more nutritious spinach. Rich in carotene, vitamin C, and iron and easy to digest, spinach is the perfect energy-boosting vegetable. In Japan, people eat spinach boiled, sautéed, and in stews and soups as well as fresh. The most common spinach dishes are ohitashi (boiled and lightly seasoned), goma-ae (boiled and dressed with a sesame-based sauce), and shira-ae (boiled and dressed with a tofu-based sauce). Misako-sensei adds a little twist to the standard ohitashi spinach with nori (seaweed), giving it a cute look.
[INGREDIENTS] (Serves 3-4)
• 1 bunch (1/2 lb) spinach (preferably baby spinach)
• Pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• Pinch of sugar
• 3g (small package) bonito flakes
• Grated ginger as garnish
1. Boil water in a big pot and add a generous amount of salt.
2. Put spinach into boiling water, mix well, and let it boil for 10 sec.
3. Drain immediately and let it sit under cold running water or in an ice bath.
4. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the spinach. (Using a bamboo sushi mat will make this job easier. Place spinach on the mat, roll, and squeeze.)
5. Put spinach on cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces.
6. Put spinach in bowl and season with soy sauce, sugar, and bonito flakes.
7. Place nori on bamboo sushi mat and spread spinach, leaving a one-inch space at the top.
8. Roll as though you are making a sushi roll.
9. Place the seam side down for one minute. The nori will seal itself and won’t fall apart.
10. Cut roll into 8 pieces and serve with grated ginger.
Makisu (bamboo sushi mat)
Made woven from bamboo and cotton strings, a makisu is a necessary item for making sushi rolls. It is also used to shape tamagoyaki (Japanese omelets), for squeezing excess liquid out of food, and for serving cold noodles. There are makisu made of thick bamboo sticks and ones with thin, round bamboo sticks. The former is ideal for making a wavy pattern on the outside of the roll, such as that found on datemaki (a sweet, rolled omelet mixed with fish paste), and the latter is most commonly used for making sushi rolls.
TIP: This very simple dish makes the most of beautiful spinach in season. Just remember to squeeze out all the excess water from the spinach to avoid a soggy roll. Enjoy!
Misako Sassa Japanese cooking instructor/food consultant
Misako teaches authentic Japanese cooking, focusing on simple, delicious, and healthy home-style cooking using seasonal and local ingredients.
Cooking video: ny1page.com