Why It Works
- Shocking the blanched greens in ice water instantly stops their cooking and sets their fresh green color and flavor.
- Very briefly boiling the mirin helps drive off just a bit of its alcohol.
Ohitashi is a simple, light, and deeply flavorful Japanese side dish of blanched greens in a soy-based marinade. Make it ahead, then have it ready for the table with no additional effort. Spinach is one of the most common vegetable choices, but you can use other leafy greens, like watercress, Swiss chard, or turnip greens, or try slender green vegetables, like asparagus or green beans. Whatever you do, don't use baby spinach, which turns limp and slimy once cooked.
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound (450g) leafy green vegetables, such as curly spinach, watercress, Swiss chard, turnip or beet greens, or bok choy, washed well (see note)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) mirin
- 1/4 cup (60ml) soy sauce, preferably usukuchi (light) soy sauce
- 3/4 to 1 cup (175 to 235ml) homemade or instant dashi
- Bonito flakes or sesame seeds, for garnish
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. In a medium or large pot of salted boiling water, cook greens until tender, 1 to 2 minutes depending on type. Immediately transfer to prepared ice bath to cool.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring mirin and soy sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat, then remove from heat. Combine soy mixture with 3/4 cup (175ml) dashi. Taste, then add more of remaining dashi if a more dilute flavor is desired. Let cool completely.
Drain greens. Using your hands, wring out as much water from greens as possible, then transfer to a container, pour dashi marinade on top, and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.
Arrange greens on a single serving plate or several individual ones; they are often arranged in a neat line, or compressed into a cylinder shape, though loosely mounding them also works. Drizzle some of the dashi marinade on top, then garnish with bonito flakes or sesame seeds. Serve.
Many kinds of leafy greens can work here, but make sure to avoid baby spinach, which becomes far too soft and squishy when cooked.