This is hands down my favourite way to eat green beans! The salty sesame Japanese Gomae Sauce combined with crunchy sweet beans is to me the perfect bite. Actually, I can't get enough of the sauce, so often make extra for other veggies too.
When I first moved to London, I lived with a lovely Japanese flatmate, Manri. We loved to cook and eat together, pretty much every weekend. She taught me many dishes, including the best way to make this classic Japanese sesame dressing for green beans, spinach or other veggies. In Japanese Goma means sesame, and ae signifies dressing vegetables (Eg beans or spinach) - So Goma-ae refers to any sesame-dressed side dish. I adore this way of serving veggies, so don't just keep it to the green beans.
I love to make this as part of a bigger feast, often with other dishes she taught me, such as my favourite Japanese Miso Glazed Aubergine (Nasu Dengaku) or this Sticky Miso Tofu. Recently though, I've been making it as a bright, umami-rich alternative to other side dishes when making a roast dinner, and pairing it with Marinated Brussel Sprouts with Sticky Balsamic and Chickpea and Sage Stuffed Butternut Squash.
If you want a more 'salad dressing' style of sesame sauce, one that Manri also showed me, head over to this Easy Japanese Gomae Style Sesame Dressing. It's creamy and delicious, while being drizzleable and dunkable too.
Simple ingredients can sometimes end up making the tastiest of dishes, just like in this Japanese Green Beans with Gomae Sauce!
- Sesame Seeds- you can buy these pre-roasted in some stores, but I find it more economical, and tastier, to toast my own. Instructions below! Goma means Sesame in Japanese, hence the name of this dish.
- Soy Sauce- Known as shoyu in Japanese. I prefer the classic Kikkoman soy sauce as it's the easiest Japanese style soy sauce to find. Choose the gluten free variety if you need to.
- Sugar- A little soft brown or white sugar balances out the salty soy sauce. Together with the toasted sesame seeds it creates a super addictive, very delicious dressing. Ultimately you don't use a lot of sugar, but it is necessary for the balance of flavours.
- Green Beans - Bouncy fresh green beans are the best to use. I love to use fine French Green beans, but this simple sauce is also great on spinach, carrots or almost any veggie.
See recipe card for quantities.
Follow along with these simple instructions for the perfect Green Beans with Gomae!
1. In a dry frying pan, gently toast the sesame seeds until they smell amazing. Be careful not to let them burn.
2. In a pestle and mortar, pound the sesame seeds to crush them. They will release their aroma.
3. Add the sugar and soy sauce to the sesame seeds.
4. Mix together and taste, you only need a little soy sauce and sugar, but it should taste delicious and balanced.
5. Boil the green beans for 2-3 minutes, then drain and refresh in icy water to stop them cooking.
6. Drain the green beans, then mix with the sesame goma sauce.
Hint: Be careful when toasting the sesame seeds as they burn quite quickly. Once done remove from the pan as the residual heat can accidentally over toast them.
The main part of this easy recipe is the sauce, the trio of ingredients is what makes it delicious, but you can amend it slightly if you want.
- Gluten Free soy sauce- Soy sauce sometimes contains wheat, so if you need to you can use gluten free soy sauce, or coconut aminos.
- Sesame seeds: Choose pre-toasted sesame seeds if you like. You can also mix in some black sesame seeds if you want.
- Sugar: You do need some sugar for sweetness in this recipe, but it's only a very small amount. You can choose to use coconut sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup instead.
I think one of the best things about this way of dressing vegetables is how addictive it makes them! The slightly salty, umami, sweet flavour is so yummy on all kinds of vegetables.
For all of these options, choose the best quality vegetables and lightly boil or steam them so they are tender but still fresh. The greens will all benefit from being refreshed in cold water before dressing.
- Mustard greens
- Broccoli or broccolini
- Pumpkin or squash
A mortar and pestle is useful for this recipe as the sesame seeds need to be crushed. Traditional Japanese ones are pretty and have grooves inside to help crush the seeds or whatever they are mixing, however, I just use the old stone one I've had forever.
You could crush the sesame seeds in a food processor, but if you do, just pulse lightly as you don't want a sauce, more a crush.
Store any leftover sesame gomae sauce in a small container in the fridge for up to a week. Leftover veggies in their sauce should be eaten in three to five days.
This Japanese Green Beans with Gomae is designed to be served at room temperature, so you can make it a day ahead of time if you wish.
This recipe is designed to be served at room temperature, so you can make it a day ahead of time if you wish.
If you choose gluten-free soy sauce yes it is.
Japanese Green Beans with Sesame Sauce (Gomae Sauce)
- Mortar and Pestle
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!!)
- 500 g (1 lb) green beans
- 4 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Ice Water
- Top and tail the green beans and boil water for them.500 g green beans
- Get a dry frying pan and toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes, or until golden. Remove from the pan immediately so they don't continue cooking and burn!4 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a mortar & pestle, pound the sesame seeds into a rough thick paste.
- Add the soy sauce and sugar to the sesame and mix1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar
- Boil the green beans for 2- 3 minutes, then drain and refresh in ice water.Ice Water
- Drain the beans and toss with the sesame sauce. Serve.
- Mustard greens
- Broccoli or broccolini
- Pumpkin or squash