ASIAN SLAW SALAD
I have a thing about prep. I love prep. Sounds a bit crazy, right? Well let me explain. The best £50 I ever spent was on a knife skills class. While I'm by no means on a level with the ninja who taught us, I like to think I'm decent with a knife these days. And what that means is prep is fun. Dicing an onion or finely shredding a cabbage is, yeah, um, fun. Looking at the mountain of sliced up veg on the side of your chopping board is very satisfying. And goodness me does this salad give you the chance to hone your knife skills. And that is reason number one why I love this salad. It is essentially a bunch of shredded veg that you end up guzzling down because of the delicious dressing and crunchy toasted nuts and seeds.
Let me elaborate on the dressing. It is a vital part of this salad, and it also offers a chance to improve your skills as a chef. What I mean is, making this dressing is a balancing act between different flavours. Tasting as you go and getting them just right can be a real palette-refiner. The ninja I mentioned earlier, teaching the knife skills class, also taught us a nice buzzword when it comes to Asian dressings. SSSH. SSSH. Apologies. I'm not telling you to be quiet. This is the acronym. An Asian dressing should be Salty and Sour and Sweet and Hot. SSSH. The saltiness comes from soy sauce. Sour from lime and rice vinegar. Sweet from palm sugar (or honey/maple syrup, if you prefer). And the hot from chillis. And I guess from ginger. Because ginger is hot in its own way.
Perhaps you could argue the dressing must hit an umami note as well. Umami is one of the five basic tastes in the human taste buds. It basically means 'savouriness'. And this dressing certainly does tick that box: soy sauce has a lot of naturally occurring glutamic acid which is the key source or umami. So maybe the acronym should be HUSSS. Or SSSHU. Or, we could forget umami, and use the word 'savouriness' instead, making SSSSH! I'm getting a bit excited here with these acronyms. Probably best to leave it.
Can I just give you one more reason that this salad is great? Go on, humour me? It is super healthy. Vegetables in their raw state can be extremely beneficial to your health. This is because a lot of vitamins are quite sensitive to heat and are destroyed by cooking. So this salad will be an absolutely massive vitamin boost. Don't worry, you don't have to eat all your veg raw. Cooking breaks down plant cell walls, allowing us to better absorb some nutrients. But mixing it up every now and again is definitely a good idea. Crunch.
There are some ingredients used here than some people may think hmmm. So I've given a few suggestions for substitutions. Personally, I love raw spring onions, but can totally see why someone might wrinkle their nose and say no thank you.
To serve, I suggest some buckwheat noodles (known as soba noodles), or some sticky rice on the side. Some fried tofu would also be a lovely accompaniment. However, I eat it on its own, with a lot more toasted peanuts chucked over the top.
Asian Slaw Salad
|for the dressing|
|3||tbsp soy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)|
|2||tbsp rice wine vinegar|
|2||tbsp groudnut (peanut) oil|
|2||tbsp toasted sesame oil|
|1||tbsp palm / light brown sugar|
|1||red chilli, deseeded and finely copped|
|1||small clove garlic, minced|
|½||tbsp ginger, minced|
|1||tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander stalks. Reserve leaves for garnish.|
|¼||of a lime's juice|
|for the salad:|
|1||sweetheart cabbage, shredded*|
|2||large carrots, chopped into matchsticks|
|2||red or yellow peppers (capsicums), thinly sliced|
|1||cup cooked edemame beans|
|4||spring onions, thinly sliced|
|2||spring onions, thinly sliced|
|1||handful fresh coriander leaves|
|½||cup unsalted peanuts|
|½||cup pumpkin seeds|
- For the dressing, whisk together the first 5 ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Then mix in the remaining 5 ingredients. Transfer the dressing to a small jug.
- Combine the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl.
- Pour over the dressing and gently mix it in. Leave the salad for at least 15 minutes before serving for the flavours to infuse.
- Meanwhile, place the nuts and seeds into a pan over a medium heat. Dry-toast them for 10-15 minutes until browned and aromatic.
- Serve onto plates or bowls with some chopped spring onion, coriander leaves amd some nuts and seeds sprinkled over the top.