Japanese Spinach Salad

Come have a taste of my Japanese Spinach Salad, a quick and delightful side dish that brings a taste of Japan to your table! Boiled to perfection and marinated in a flavorful sauce, it’s a breeze to prepare and pairs perfectly with your favorite Japanese-inspired mains!

Japanese style spinach salad topped with bonito flakes served in a white bowl with a pair of chopsticks.

Why I Love This Recipe

If you’re like me and enjoy easy-to-make, healthy dishes that perfectly complement Japanese-inspired meals, then you’ll love my Japanese Spinach Salad! It’s a traditional recipe prepared with tender spinach boiled to perfection and then marinated in a flavorful sauce. Similar to my Korean Spinach Salad, Spinach Stir Fry, and Japanese Bacon Spinach Salad, but what sets this dish apart is its versatility—it can be served either cold or warm, making it a delightful addition to any meal throughout the year!

What I find truly special about this recipe is its ability to capture the authentic Asian-inspired flavors that I crave, with minimal effort. The spinach, tender and juicy, absorbs the lightly sweet and savory sauce, bursting with umami goodness. I crafted this recipe to be the perfect side dish for anyone seeking a hassle-free, fail-proof recipe that’s both healthy and delicious! It’s a breeze to prepare and pairs effortlessly with a variety of dishes, making it a go-to option for any meals! So how can you beat that? Let’s whip up this spinach salad right now!



  • Spinach Leaves – use spinach leaves with the stem on.
  • Water – used for boiling spinach.
  • Bonito Flakes – made from shaved Dried Bonito fish. Commonly used to make broth and responsible for giving Japanese cuisine that signature umami flavor. Can replace with Hondashi.
  • Japanese Sake – typically will come in a large bottle labeled junmai sake. Can also substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine, found at local grocery stores or Asian markets. 
  • Sweetener – use your preferred sweetener.
  • Soy Sauce – low-sodium Soy Sauce preferred. Can also use tamari for gluten-free.

🥬 Spinach Ingredient Note

For the most tender texture, it’s recommended to use Baby Spinach Leaves when preparing this dish.

Japanese style spinach salad topped with bonito flakes served in a white bowl with a pair of chopsticks, top down shot.


Step 1 Combine bonito flakes or hondashi, Japanese sake, sweetener, and soy sauce in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 3 minutes. After simmering, remove it from the heat. If using bonito flakes, strain the sauce.

Sauce for Japanese spinach salad.

⚡ Sauce Shortcut Pro Tip

To simplify sauce preparation, opt for 1/8 tsp Hondashi. This alternative eliminates the need for straining, making the process more efficient.

Step 2 Boil water in a large pot. Once boiling, add spinach leaves and cook for 75 seconds. After cooking, rinse the spinach under cold water to stop the cooking process, then squeeze out any excess water with your hands and cut the spinach into bite-sized pieces.

Boiled spinach cut into bite size pieces.

Step 3 Place the boiled spinach in a bowl and pour the strained sauce over it. Allow the spinach to marinate in the sauce for 1-4 hours before serving and serve chilled.

Japanese spinach salad topped with bonito flakes.

💡 Marinating Pro Tip

For best results, marinate your dish for 2 Hours to achieve optimal flavor infusion.

🍽️ Serving Pro Tip

For a Warm Serving option, simply Microwave the spinach for 30 Seconds before enjoying.

🌿 Garnishing Pro Tip

For a finishing touch, garnish your dish with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Bonito Flakes.

Pairing Recommendations

Enhance your dining experience by pairing this Japanese Spinach Salad with light Japanese dishes like Japanese Miso Salmon or Miso Black Cod. Alternatively, serve it alongside other sides such as Yudofu or Tako Su. For a complete meal, enjoy it with your choice of rice and a bowl of Tofu Miso Soup.

Japanese style spinach salad topped with bonito flakes served in a white bowl with a pair of chopsticks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use regular spinach instead of baby spinach for this recipe?

Yes, you can use regular spinach, but please note that it won't be as tender as baby spinach.

Is it necessary to marinate the spinach for the full recommended time, or can I shorten it?

You can shorten the marinating time if you prefer, but keep in mind that the taste will be lighter compared to the full marination.

Can I freeze this salad for later use?

No, it's best not to freeze the salad after making it, as the texture won't be the same upon thawing.

Storage Tips

Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate them promptly. They should stay fresh for 5 to 7 days.

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Watch How To Make It

Japanese style spinach salad topped with bonito flakes served in a white bowl with a pair of chopsticks.

Japanese Spinach Salad

Japanese Spinach Salad is a delicious and healthy dish that brings the flavors of Japan to your table. Try this easy Japanese spinach recipe today!
5 from 7 votes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese spinach recipe, Japanese spinach salad
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe
Calories: 38kcal


  • 4-5 Cups Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Bonito Flakes can sub with 1/8 tsp of hondashi
  • 1 tbsp Japanese Sake
  • 2 tsp Sweetener your preferred sweetener
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Bonito Flakes sprinkle


  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Ingredients for Japanese spinach salad.
  • Prepare and wash spinach as needed.
    Sauce for Japanese spinach salad.
  • In a stove top pan, add water, bonito flakes, Japanese Sake, sweetener, soy sauce and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cook for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove from heat, strain bonito flakes from sauce and transfer remaining sauce into marinating bowl. Note - if using hondashi, you can skip straining the sauce.
    Spinach washed on cutting board.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add spinach leaves and boil for 75 seconds. Then, rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Squeeze out any excess water from the spinach, cut it into 1/2-inchlengths, and transfer it into a bowl with the sauce for marinating.
    Boiled spinach cut into bite size pieces.
  • Marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours in the fridge. Serve as is for cold or microwave for 30 seconds to serve warm. Top with bonito flakes before serving.
    Japanese spinach salad topped with bonito flakes.


Calories: 38kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 5g | Sodium: 1106mg | Potassium: 708mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 11252IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 4mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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  1. Hi. If using Hondashi, how much should I use? 1/2tsp? Thanks, Susan

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