Recipe Remix: Japanese Goma-ae Beans

by Kevin Nakao

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Ingen no Goma-ae (green beans in sesame sauce) are a refreshing and healthy side-dish for any asian-food meal, summer barbecue, or bento/picnic lunch.  They can be made ahead of time, served chilled, and are savory option for a plant-based diet.  Green beans have a long growing season and locally-grown beans are abundant in many places.

My re-mixed recipe is slightly different than others I have seen on the web in the following ways:

1. No Miso paste.  Some but not all recipes call for this.  I like Miso but I think it can overwhelm the flavor of fresh green beans.

2.  Slightly under-cook the beans: blanch quickly for 2 minutes, and then run under cold water. This keeps them crispy, especially for a overnight marinade.

3.  Marinade in the cooler for 24-48 hours in advance, the beans really absorb the flavor the longer they sit in the sauce.  Preparing food in advance is also one less thing to worry about if you have a meal with several dishes.

4.  Cook the sesame seeds on medium high and almost burn them.  Most recipe’s call for a slow cook on low heat, I think slightly over-cooked sesame seeds give a subtle smokey taste.

5.  I use Dashi (bonito fish broth), but have skipped this when my sister/brother-in law were on a strict-plant based diet.  It is also hard to find Dashi that doesn’t contain MSG.  The Dashi makes the beans taste better, but it is also fine without the fish broth — it’s really the sesame & sugar that makes this dish pop.

Here is the recipe remix (italics and strike-thru used to indicate changes) of Bento.com’s Green Beans in Sesame Dressing:

Ingredients:

  • 175g (6 oz.) frozen fresh whole green beans
  • a pinch of salt

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (if you buy them pre-toasted, re-toast anyway. i prefer the white sesame seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar *
  • 2/3 tablespoon dashi stock **
  • 1/2 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

To toast the seeds for this recipe, simply put them in a frying pan on medium high without oil then heat while stirring until the seeds have puffed up and you can smell the distinctive aroma of sesame.

Directions

1. Boil the beans in a pan of water for2 minutes or until tender.  Run under cold water until cool.

2. Finely grind the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar or in a coffee grinder. Add the sugar, dashi, miso paste and soy sauce and mix together well.

3. Toss the green beans in the sesame dressing and serve as a side dish.

4.  Let marinade in cooler for 24-48 hours

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