All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Horenso to kani, shiitake no shiraae / spinach, crab and shiitake in tofu dressing

A small handful of crabmeat is transformed into a pleasantly light yet complex side dish. Shiitake is slowly roasted to intensify its taste and aroma, while blanched spinach is flavored with a tiny amount of soy sauce and dashi to give just enough underlying taste to ensure its presence as part of the melody of flavors in creamy tofu dressing.

1/2 recipe:
78 calories; 10.3 g protein; 2.8 g fat; 3.8 g carbohydrate; 1.5 g net carbs; 180 mg sodium; 24 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber

Shiraae dressing only (1/2 recipe):
33 calories; 2.3 g protein; 0.1 g fat; 2.5 g carbohydrate; 1.5 g net carbs; 75 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 0.7 g fiber

Handful (1/4-1/3 bunch) spinach (63 g in photo)
     1/4 tsp dashi
     1/8 tsp usukuchi soy sauce
Small handful crabmeat (62 g Dungeness crab, cooked at home, in photo)
4 shiitake mushrooms (44 g in photo)

For shiraae tofu dressing
Approx. 60 g kinugoshi soft tofu (63 g in photo)
2 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
1/8 tsp usukuchi soy sauce
1/4 tsp shiokoji salted rice malt


Separate umbrellas and stems of shiitake, remove any discolored stem ends, and grill on low heat until toasty, flipping as necessary.

When done, let shiitake cool.


Meanwhile, prepare spinach.
Have a medium prep bowl filled with cold water ready.
Bring enough water (1200-1500 cc) to boil, and blanch spinach, first putting in stem ends.

When leaf color intensifies, immediately transfer spinach to cold water in bowl to stop cooking and retain color. 
When cool, squeeze out excess water, and cut into 3-4 cm.


Squeeze out excess water from spinach once again, and put in a small prep bowl while fluffing up with fingers.

Add dashi and usukuchi soy sauce, and mix well. 

Let sit for 5 minutes or so.


In suribachi mortar, put sesame seeds, and grind.

Add soft tofu, mixing well. 
Add usukuchi soy sauce and shiokoji, and mix well. 

Tofu dressing is ready.


Add spinach as well as shiitake while tearing with fingers to tofu dressing, and gently mix.


Add crabmeat, and gently mix.
Ready to serve. 

  • Grilling shiitake takes time (15 minutes or so) when cooked as above. Cooked shiitake also must be cooled to nearly room temperature before mixing into tofu (to prevent hot shiitake from cooking other components).
  • Shiitake and spinach can be prepared ahead of time. If you do, bring them out of the fridge some time before main cooking or assembly with tofu dressing. In addition to saltiness being more clearly sensed when food is not cold, cold things are not really very nice to eat, especially when it's freezing outside.
  • Usukuchi soy sauce gives a paler color but has more sodium than regular soy sauce. If not available, regular soy sauce works fine, and when using 50% reduced-sodium regular soy sauce, the sodium figures above would go down by 28-29 mg per serving.
  • Crabmeat, especially when purchased from stores, contains a relatively high amount of sodium. The above sodium figure is based on the assumption that the sodium in meat from a whole crab cooked at home contains 15% less sodium than crabmeat from stores. Sodium content also varies by species.
  • Shiokoji is salty and sweet. If not available, use a tiny amount of salt and some sweetener.
  • Shiraae tofu dressing can be made with miso instead of soy sauce. When using miso, replace soy sauce and shiokoji with miso and some sweetener (skip sweetener if using sweet miso such as Saikyo miso).

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