Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chinese chopped salad


This is comfort food of another kidney. Chopped napa cabbage in vinaigrette is the base for numerous variations of this salad, which can have any number of other things in it. Shredded meat bits are traditional, cold noodles often go in it, I think if you have a good pig's foot jelly, you can put that in it, or some thousand-year-old eggs. It's pretty open to interpretation, but I've departed from its traditional presentation and usage, although there are some good reasons for that.

4 or 5 leaves of napa cabbage, julienned
a few carrot matchsticks, for color
about 3 cauliflower florets, cut up into rather small bits
most of 1 scallion, green and white parts minced fine
a teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons rice wine or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light soysauce (dark is too salty)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
a teaspoon of sesame paste OR a teaspoon of peanut butter and a good dash of sesame oil

Mix the liquid ingredients thoroughly to make a vinaigrette, then toss in the veggies. You only need to let it marinate for about 2 minutes, napa is fairly soft t begin with. I like to shake everything up in tupperware container, but that's because I don't actually serve anything in real dishes. I just take pictures that make it look like I do.

Cauliflower is in no sense traditional, but what I was thinking is that since both napa and cauliflower are part of the same family of plants, they should taste pretty good together. I was right. Besides that, the cauliflower adds a visual and textural element which is otherwise lacking. I don't remember this salad ever having carrots in it when I was a kid, but hey, they were in the crisper drawer.

This part sounds a little funny: Serve the salad over hot potstickers. Yep, it is a good idea. The vinaigrette is basically just dipping sauce, right, and unless you're eating some awfully middling potstickers, there shouldn't be any big lumps in them, so the salad adds crunch. You could have the salad as a perfectly normal side dish, but somehow I enjoyed having everything piled up together. Maybe it was just me having a moment like I used to when I was little- you know, where you fling everything together and make a mess like you know you aren't supposed to, only this time hey, it turned out fine after all!

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