This easy vegan Japanese style sesame dressing is inspired by a Japanese dish that I always order when I eat out in a Japanese restaurant, called Gomae ( Sesame Spinach Salad) It's a simple dish of ground sesame seeds, mixed with some soy sauce & vinegar or citrus, which then dresses the spinach salad. It's SO yummy, and every place I've had it, has made it slightly differently. It perfectly complements a roasted vegetable winter salad, or you can use it to drizzle over just some leaves or cooked spinach.
🥗Sesame Seeds vs Tahini
Years ago my lovely Japanese flatmate Manri, taught me how to make the Gomae Dressing it the way she grew up eating it, by grinding the sesame seeds in a special pestle & mortar. Sadly, that was years ago, and I no longer have that nifty little mortar & pestle (mine is a huge cumbersome thing, which is great for bashing stuff, not so good to bring out on a whim) ... However recently when making some greens, I thought, hang on.. tahini is ground up sesame seeds. Why can't I cheat a little to make a similar dressing by using tahini & speed up the process a bit.
It might not be the exact same as the original, but it really tastes delicious so I'm not sure that it matters too much.
You see I love tahini sauce. I use it quite a bit when making dressing such as my favourite addictive vegan version of Caesar salad dressing, or simply mixed with lemon & a dash of cumin to drizzle over almost anything. However the simple addition of some good quality soya sauce (or tamari sauce) sends this delicious flavour off to Japan, where sesame is widely used in all kinds of food!
Where else to use the Gomae Dressing
Obviously, you could use this delicious Gomae style dressing over the classic spinach salad that you find in Japanese restaurants, but it is also utterly delicious drizzled on all kinds of salads, including my suggestion of this delicious & hearty roasted squash and kale salad.
Alternatively, the dressing is also delicious swooshed through (or over) kale or broccoli as it's being cooked. It kind of catches into all the florets or nooks & crannies and creates a delicious savoury sauce. Yum!
Whether you just make the slightly cheaty version of Gomae Sesame dressing, or make the full winter salad, I really hope you love it as much as I do!
FAQ and Troubleshooting
It keeps about a week in a jar in the fridge
Add a little more water and keep mixing. Tahini can be a bit strange and get thicker before it thins out into a dressing consistency
You could go back to the traditional method and bash some sesame seeds up with a mortar or pestle. This recipe does need the sesame in one form or another however.
I buy mine at our main supermarket or at the health food store. However I find it is often cheaper to buy it at big Middle Eastern stores (if you have one near you!) Or buy it online here: (affiliate link)
🥗Other Salads to try
Easy Japanese Gomae Style Sesame Dressing with Winter Salad
For accuracy, I measure all ingredients in metric as standard, then convert and test the recipe for American cup measurements etc.
(Heads up Aussie and UK readers- your measurements in cups are sometimes different, so please use metric or check you have the correct cup and spoon type!!)
For the Gomae Tahini Dressing
For the Salad
- 1 small acorn squash (or other flavourful squash)
- 2 large handfuls kale
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tin chickpeas (drained)
- 1 teaspoon soya sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (I used chinese black vinegar, a mellow vinegar is best.)
For the Salad
- Cut the squash in half, gloss with 1 tablespoon oil & season with some salt (small squashes don't need their skin removed, it's quite edible. If using a larger squash, cut into large cubes & skin)
- Roast the squash on a roasting tray in a 200c oven for around half an hour, until squishy & slightly charred.
- At the same time, toss the chickpeas in the other half of the oil, soya sauce & vinegar.
- Add the chickpeas to a roasting tray and roast for 20-30 mins until slightly crispy & golden.
- Roughly chop the kale, and steam lightly for 3-4 mins until it softens & becomes a bright green colour.
For the Gomae Tahini Sauce
- In a jar, shake all the ingredients together. Add more water if it looks a bit gloopy.
- Let the squash & chickpeas cool to room temperature.
- Lay the salad ingredients on a plate & drizzle over the gomae dressing.
- You will have dressing left over, it can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.