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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Japanese Baby Spinach Salad

There are plenty of greens available this time of year. Do something interesting with them by adding Asian flavors.

Here's a simple recipe for a Japanese baby spinach salad that makes a refreshing spring or summer side dish.

One of the ingredients that makes this dish so characteristically Asian in flavor is fish sauce. If you’re a fan of Thai and southeast Asian food, consider making your own fish sauce to keep around the kitchen. This recipe is actually vegan, so no fish in sight, but it’s the same idea.

In the photo of the finished dish you’ll notice an orange-colored sauce drizzled around the spinach. It’s a delicious red pepper coulis that is one of those secret ingredients you can keep around and it makes your cooking look snazzy and taste great.

Japanese Baby Spinach Salad


  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, cut across grain
  • 3-4 scallions, cut thin
  • 1 1/2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Blanch the spinach: Cook it in boiling water until it wilts and then dunk the spinach into ice water using a strainer to keep the ice cubes out of your spinach leaves.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Add blanched spinach leaves (wring out as much water as you can before adding to the dressing) and toss until the dressing is well distributed.

Red Pepper Coulis


  • 3 red peppers, washed, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 branch thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. In a saucepan, combine peppers, shallots, vinegar, water, salt, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until peppers are tender. Reserve liquid.
  2. In a blender, combine cooked peppers and olive oil and puree. Thin with the pepper cooking in liquid as needed.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and tabasco and pass through a fine sieve.

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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