4 (10- to 12-ounce) bunches flat-leaf spinach, preferably with root ends intact
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: kitchen string
Wash spinach well under cold water. Gather spinach into 4 equal bunches and tie each bunch tightly around middle of stems with kitchen string.
Blanch spinach, 1 or 2 bunches at a time, in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling unsalted water until just wilted, 15 to 30 seconds per batch, then transfer with tongs to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop the cooking.
Drain spinach in a colander. Holding each bunch by root end, firmly squeeze out excess water, keeping bunch intact. Cut off string and cut spinach crosswise into 1-inch sections, including inch of stems closest to leaves; discard stem ends. Squeeze sections of spinach by handfuls to remove remaining water and transfer to a bowl, separating clumps.
Combine 1/4 cup sesame seeds with sugar in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (some sesame seeds will remain whole). Add sake and soy sauce and pulse until mixture forms a coarse paste.
Toss spinach with sesame mixture and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
From Gourmet Today: More than 1,000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen by Ruth Reichl. Copyright 2009 by Ruth Reichl. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.