Makes 4 servings.

1 pound spinach, cleaned and trimmed of stems

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Dressing:

3 tablespoons tahini (be sure to stir the jar contents)

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

½ to 1 teaspoon water

Bring a large 4-quart pot of water to a boil. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Have a large bowl of iced water ready near your workspace. Submerge the spinach in the boiling water and blanch until it all wilts, approximately 20 seconds. Using a Chinese strainer, remove the spinach and submerge in the ice water to stop the cooking. The spinach should cool in a few minutes. Take it out of the water and drain. Squeeze the water

out by pressing in a colander, repeatedly turning it and pressing. Lay the spinach on a kitchen towel, roll it into a log and press to remove

the excess water. This can be refrigerated up to a day ahead of time.

Place the spinach on a cutting board and chop it into small pieces. Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds and toss it with the spinach in a bowl. Set aside.

For the dressing combine the tahini, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, vinegar and water in a bowl. Whisk to combine. (This is an intense dressing and should be used lightly.)

Press the spinach into ramekins or shapes, and un-mold each onto a salad plate. Lightly drizzle the sesame dressing over the spinach and garnish with the spicy carrots.

Spicy Carrots:

1 pound carrots, peeled

4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon ginger, diced fine

1½ tablespoons peanut or canola oil

3-5 Thai dried chilies, crushed; or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pinch salt

¼ cup cilantro leaves, packed and torn

Slice the carrots on the mandolin into long thin ribbons about a 1/8-inch thick. (You can also use a vegetable peeler with a large opening to make the ribbons). Place the carrots in a bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, sugar and ginger and stir to combine.

Toss the carrots with the vinegar-sugar mix and set aside for 20 minutes. Drain the marinade and set aside. The carrots still have a bit of a crunch.

Heat a sauté pan on medium, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the dried chilies (or red pepper flakes) and heat through for 2 minutes.

Pour the oil over the carrots. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and toss well.

Add the cilantro leaves and serve alongside the spinach salad.