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Green Bean Black Sesame Goma-Ae

July 10, 2014

Green Bean Black Sesame Goma-AePin it!

My summer of snacking on cold salads directly out of the fridge continues!

Not that this is a salad; it’s more of a side dish. Goma-ae is a delicious Japanese vegetable side dish, often using spinach (or another green vegetable, like green beans) and always seasoned with goma (sesame).

Making Green Bean Black Sesame Goma-AePin it!

It’s such a simple recipe, I have a feeling this is going to be a short blog post…

Chopping green beans for goma-ae

I like using black sesame with green beans (and slicing them lengthwise) for the visual contrast, but toasted white sesame seeds work too. I’m just partial to all things black sesame (as my black sesame ice cream obsession, and black sesame mochi cake recipe will attest).

Making Black Sesame Goma-Ae in a Japanese suribachi

Nutty, rich black sesame pairs especially well with sugary desserts, but here it gets used in a side dish that’s more savory than sweet.

Making Black Sesame Goma-Ae in a Japanese suribachi

The sesame seeds are ground up together with a little sugar, a little soy sauce, and a pinch of salt (and sometimes miso paste), then the whole thing is slathered over blanched, drained green beans (or spinach).

Black Sesame Green Bean Goma-AePin it!

A while back, probably in the pre-blog days, I tried making spinach goma-ae for Paula with white sesame, but she couldn’t get over the taste of a slightly sugary dressing on spinach, and she especially couldn’t get into anything that involved cold cooked spinach. I guess many people might be with her on that one…

Chopping green beans for goma-ae

Blanched green beans are another story — they are crisp, green, and fresh tasting even after a few minutes of boiling, and they hold up well to the sesame/sugar/soy sauce combination, since they have a little natural sweetness themselves.

Black Sesame Green Bean Goma-AePin it!

This side dish is the perfect green accompaniment to a meat- or grain-centered meal. The sesame seasoning is one of my favorite ways to dress up green vegetables with flavors that transport me back to Japan.

Black Sesame Green Bean Goma-AePin it!

p.s. As I’ve fallen more and more behind on replying to blog comments (sorry!), I’ve come to an important realization: as a grad student, I procrastinated on my research by working on this blog. Now that I’m not a student anymore, I must not be quite as desperate for procrastinatory activities! I’ve been spending less time on Spontaneous Tomato, and more time on summer teaching, new-used-car-buying (and soon used-car-selling), and wedding planning! That might just be how things are this summer, until I get married (in Sept.), find a job (?!?), and settle into a new routine.

Don’t worry, though; I’m still finding time for plenty of cooking and eating.

Ingredients for Black Sesame Green Bean Goma-Ae

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Green Bean Black Sesame Goma-Ae

(Makes 2-3 cups; serves 6-8 as a side dish.)

Active and total time: 30 minutes.

~ 1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed off
~ ¼ cup toasted black sesame seeds
~ 1 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
~ pinch of salt
~ 4 tsp. soy sauce
~ 2 tsp. mirin (optional; if not using, increase sugar to taste)

How to make it:

1. Optionally halve the green beans lengthwise using a sharp paring knife (it takes a while to do this, though). Chop the green beans crosswise into short lengths (1½ – 2 inches long).

Chopping green beans for goma-aeGrinding the black sesame seeds and sugar

2. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and put a colander in the sink. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then blanch the chopped green beans: boil lengthwise-halved green beans for about 3 minutes, or boil whole green beans for about 4 minutes. (Taste-test one for doneness before draining them.) Drain the green beans in the colander, then plunge them into the ice water to stop them from cooking. Drain again, gently pat dry, and transfer to a bowl.

Grinding the black sesame seeds and sugarGrinding the black sesame goma-ae paste

3. Using a mortar and pestle (the ridged Japanese suribachi type works especially well), grind the sesame seeds well. (You may need to do this in batches.) Add the sugar and salt, and grind those into the sesame seeds. Then add the soy sauce (and the mirin, if using) and continue grinding: it should come together into a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

4. Use your hands to gently distribute the sesame paste over the blanched, dried green beans. Transfer to a smaller serving dish if desired and serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a few days. Goma-ae is best served at room temperature (or slightly chilled).

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Black Sesame Green Bean Goma-AePin it!

Related recipe posts:

Japanese Chilled Tofu (2 ways) and Black Sesame Dressing Canning 101: Pickled Green Beans Korean Banchan: Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts Lentil Green Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
Japanese Chilled Tofu (2 ways) and Black Sesame Dressing Canning 101: Pickled Green Beans Korean Banchan: Spicy Sesame Bean Sprouts Lentil Green Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
15 Comments leave one →
  1. July 10, 2014 9:03 am

    Yum. I like the way you eat. I need to get me some black sesame ice cream too. Beautiful photos.

    • July 10, 2014 9:16 am

      Thanks, Amanda!

      I appreciate that you said you like the way I eat, since I’ve actually been feeling kind of pathetic in the cooking department recently, because I’m only making cold snack foods (gazpacho, potato salad, this…) none of which is really a full meal (i.e., Paula and I have both been supplementing our lunches with storebought stuff and basically having guacamole every night for dinner). I’ve been too tired from TA-ing to cook real dinners! I guess this is what real life after grad school feels like…

      • July 10, 2014 9:36 am

        Ha totally. I only started cooking for real after all my schooling. It’s also tougher in the summer to keep up with everything.

  2. July 10, 2014 9:09 am

    I really like the way the green beans look sliced in half. I can tell it is time consuming, but being the visual person I am I would go ahead and take the time to slice them. This is a fabulous recipe Allison! I like black sesame seeds too. They look great on poached eggs, eh?

    • July 10, 2014 9:20 am

      Thanks! Yes, I am a really visual person too (at least I am a visual learner…) and although I worry about food ‘presentation’ a lot less when I’m just cooking for myself at home, no cameras in sight, I’ve found that it really can make a difference in terms of how satisfying a meal feels if it’s visually appealing!

      (But yes, it takes some time — and a very sharp knife — to cut the green beans in half. I stopped two-thirds of the way through only because I was running out of sunlight/energy, but then it turned out I got to show off what the dish looks like both ways!)

      Oh man, black sesame seeds on poached eggs… I need to try that! (They definitely look stunning sprinkled over rice.)

  3. July 10, 2014 11:47 am

    Heaven! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks.

  4. July 10, 2014 2:36 pm

    That is some beautiful looking simplicity , back is so little used in cooking x

  5. July 10, 2014 9:26 pm

    Love the way you prepared these green beans, great recipe!

  6. July 11, 2014 5:17 pm

    Another awesome recipe!

  7. July 11, 2014 5:28 pm

    There are few things in the world that a bit of sesame doesn’t improve. Enjoy your summer. Procrastinate all you want.

  8. afracooking permalink
    July 13, 2014 12:37 pm

    Beans are amongst my favourite side dishes, so I am always looking for new ways to serve them. This really is a very orginal dish – fabulous!

  9. walgenbe permalink
    July 14, 2014 9:16 am

    Can’t wait to try this on some of the (many bunches of!!) chard from our CSA! I actually love spinach this way, though have only done with white sesame seeds. The black are so pretty! This just reminds me again that I should just check your blog when I’m at a loss for what to do with all of our overflow veggies. Sorry that teaching has you drained!

  10. July 14, 2014 3:31 pm

    Super excited to try this! I finally found something to pair with the wasabi pasta that I bought from our local fresh pasta maker (leftover from a batch he’d made one time, at a restaurant’s request). With grilled, rare ahi tuna I think this will come together beautifully. Thank you!!!! And best wishes with wedding planning!!!!

  11. July 16, 2014 7:32 am

    (playing catch-up) and these look so crispy and delightful!

  12. August 16, 2014 2:42 am

    I love the creatively of these recipes. Looks yummy. Never thought of adding Sesame to green beans… but believe it’s going to happen soon.

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