Last Updated on February 14, 2021
Have you tried the combination of soy sauce and butter, yet? Soy Sauce “Butter” Spinach is a vegan version of home-cooked style Japanese food. It’s nothing fancy but it’s humble, comforting, “buttery”, and savory. You only need a short list of ingredients to make this dish and it cooks in no time! It can be made GF if you swap soy sauce to tamari.
About The Dish
This is kind of a nostalgic food for me. Growing up in Japan, my mom would prepare a quick breakfast during the week. Just like any other countries, the mornings in Japan are bit hectic for everyone. Adults need to get ready to go to work while they need to feed kids before they rush out to go to school. But I would never skip breakfast even if it was a simple & quick meal. In my house, the simple & quick Japanese style breakfast was typically with the following items;
- Rice (a bowl or two)
- Eggs (raw or cooked…sounds crazy? I know)
- Nori Seaweed
- Yogurt or Fruit
And sometimes, my mom would cook this sauteed spinach dish. Back then, I was not vegan so she made with regular butter. But my version with vegan butter is just as delicious and the soy sauce makes it just like how my mom used to make. The Japanese way to season the eggs is with soy sauce, pour soy sauce onto the nori seaweed, and season sauteed veggies with…you guessed it, Soy Sauce.
Now, there’s something about the combination of soy sauce & butter that’s so IRRESISTIBLE!
Soy Sauce + Butter
For the Japanese, this combination is nothing unusual. It’s a typical flavor that can be applied to many dishes. To give you a few examples;
- Sauteed Veggies (spinach, cabbage, potatoes, mushrooms etc.)
- Pasta and Noodles
It’s slightly rich from the butter and the soy sauce adds the savory taste that is different from salt. You really won’t know how good it is until you try it!
- Mature Spinach
- Unsalted Vegan Butter
- White Pepper
- Soy Sauce
I would suggest making this dish with mature spinach rather than baby spinach. They have more flavor and the texture is suitable for cooking with heat. I like the bite of it rather than something that almost melts in my mouth.
For the butter, I use unsalted vegan butter Miyoko’s Creamery. I think this particular product has the best flavor and the ingredients are “clean.”
Have you used white pepper? I love the aroma of it. It’s completely different than black pepper. For me, it has a savory smell that makes me hungry no matter what. It’s also a perfect condiment for ramen.
The Cooking Tips
The tips are kind the same as what’s mentioned in the ingredients.
Use mature spinach if you can. Make sure to wash very well as sand is often trapped. My favorite part is the stem and the roots! Just like baby spinach, it cooks down in no time. Make sure not to over cook them to preserve the flavor and the texture at its best.
Unsalted butter is the best choice for this dish. That way, you can control the saltiness. Since spinach gets reduced down in volume as it’s cooked, it’s hard to measure the desirable saltiness to the amount of the butter you want to use. Usually, it ends up on the salty side if you use salted butter. If you use salted butter, there’s no need to season with additional salt!
No white pepper? No worries! You can replace with black pepper instead. I just love the aroma of white pepper as how I remember my mom would make the dish.
Although the dish will be seasoned with soy sauce, I like to use a pinch of salt to preseason the spinach. Because the soy sauce, for this dish, It’s not really the saltiness, but rather to give a more enriched flavor. You only need a pinch for about 1/2 pound spinach. Don’t over salt it!
Again, if you use sated butter, skip the salt!
As mentioned above, soy sauce is to add the “savory flavor.” Therefore, you only need a drop or two. If you double the amount of the original recipe, you still need only a few dashes.
You can also use tamari for GF option.
Try other dishes of my series of the Soy Sauce “Butter”!
Soy Sauce “Butter” Spinach
- 1 bunch (about 8oz) about 8 oz mature spinach cleaned and chopped
- 1/2 tbsp unsalted vegan butter
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- Less than 1/4 tsp salt adjust to taste
- A pinch of ground white pepper
- 1 to 2 drops soy sauce
- Heat up a frying pan at medium high heat. Add vegan butter. When the butter is melted add garlic. Cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Add spinach and season with salt and white pepper. Cook for another 30 seconds or a minute until the spinach is cooked down.
- Reduce the heat to medium low. Add soy sauce. Give a quick stir and turn off the heat immediately.
- Serve as is or with a bowl of rice.
- It’s best to serve with Japanese white rice!
- Adjust the amount of salt and soy sauce if using salted vegan butter.
- You can also make this recipe with baby spinach however mature spinach has more flavor and the preferred texture.