SAUTEED WATERCRESS WITH SESAME DRESSING (Japanese, for six)
6 bunches watercress, coarse stems removed and discarded and the watercress rinsed but not spun dry (about 16 cups)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons water (more to taste)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1. If your sesame seeds have not been toasted, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and add the sesame seeds. Stir and shake the pan constantly, and as soon as the seeds turn golden and smell nutty, transfer them to a suribachi mortar and pestle or a spice mill. Allow to cool. Grind the seeds just until crushed.
2. Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sake and water then stir in the ground sesame seeds. Thin out with water.
3. In a large heavy skillet heat the vegetable oil, add the watercress and stir the mixture until it is combined well. Saute the watercress, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is just wilted. Toss the watercress with the dressing and serve drizzled with a few drops of sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
adapted from the New York Times, February 20, 2009.