Eat Your Greens

A simple Japanese side dish, enjoyed by generations.

Eat Your Greens

A simple Japanese side dish, enjoyed by generations.

Mother Tongue, Akiko Kurematsu’s first book about Japanese family and food, was written during the pandemic when the author, isolated away from her home country and loved ones, cooked her way through her mother Kozue’s book of her grandmother Fusae’s recipes. This ode to Japanese home cooking features 50 simple recipes and memories of Akiko’s upbringing. 

These recipes have been passed down through the women in Akiko’s family, each generation contributing to and adapting them. The author herself has tweaked these recipes for this generation of home cooks, for those who eat more local, sustainable, aware. 

Goma-ae is a classic. This one-veg side dish is made with sesame paste that can be used with any seasonal vegetable. The natural oils and earthy, nutty taste of the seeds especially complement green beans, spinach, asparagus, as well as the author’s personal favorite, tomato! 


Serves 3–4

Handful green beans (6-8 per person)

1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 Tbsp ground sesame seeds or tahini
Pinch sesame seeds (white, black or both), for garnish

¼ tsp sesame oil

Pinch salt

What to do

1. Cut off ends and stems of the beans.

2. Blanch with a pinch of salt for about 2-3 minutes. Don’t be afraid to try one towards the end of your cooking time! They should turn a vibrant green and still be crunchy, not limp.


3. Drain and run the beans under cold water. Drain and set aside.

4. Combine soy sauce or tamari, ground sesame seeds or tahini, and sesame oil. If using tahini, you may need to adjust the thickness of the paste with water.

5. Leave beans whole or cut into bite-sized pieces and mix in the sesame paste.

6. In a pan, lightly toast the sesame seeds to release the oils and to enhance the crunch and delicious nutty flavor before using.

7. Garnish beans. Serve at room temperature.

Mother Tongue



Print EditionBuy Now

Related Stories: