Daughter Eilene has finally convinced me to try Japanese mayonnaise. Jan and I were wandering through a Farmer’s market and I saw a bin of differently colored marble potatoes—AKA new potatoes, these are simply potatoes that have been harvested while they are still only an inch in diameter. I thought they would make a good Japanese potato salad.
Category Archives: Salads
The best tofu in San Jose is made at San Jose Tofu on Jackson St. Every day, except Sunday, the Tofu man, Chester Nozaki, makes a batch of fresh tofu. If you want to buy some on Saturday go early, because they sell out around noon. There is nothing like the flavor and texture of super fresh tofu.
Our favorite local restaurant is Gombei. When you buy a dinner, they serve a rotating set of tsukemono. These side dishes can be a variety of pickled cabbage, pickled cucumbers, or hijiki salad, pickled pumpkin, or okara—tofu lees. When you place your order, you have no idea which ones you will be getting today.
I am barbecuing Argentinean beef and I wanted a salad to go with it. While some Argentinean salads are more Mediterranean influenced—filled with eggs, potatoes, or fruit—the salad commonly served with asado—barbecue—is almost Japanese in its simplicity. A few high quality ingredients, simply dressed. The flavors of the ingredients should stand proudly on their own.
I bought a Safeway ham the other day and I was thinking about a weekday dinner. I wanted something other than my usual sweet potatoes and steamed green beans to go with the ham. I decided what I needed was a dish that covered both my starch and vegetable. Three bean salad seemed the way to go.
This week I am making Santa Maria tri-tip, which calls for Santa Maria-style beans. While many sites call for serving coleslaw with this meal, I could not find anything called “Santa Maria-style coleslaw.” Having grownup just a few miles away, in Santa Barbara, I decided to fill this obvious need.
Jan is having another potluck with the relocated American Indians project. She asked me to come up with a dish that she could take to work in the morning that would still be nice after a day without refrigeration. It also needed to be tailored to Native American tastes.
Note: However, almost none of the people involved are from the same tribe, so you cannot just do something like Southwest Indian cuisine and be at all confident that everyone will like it.
My Asian pear-apple and arugula salad has become a standard dish in my household, since I came up with it a few months ago. It is a very versatile salad and I am constantly tinkering with it—adding shrimp or salmon to make it a dinner salad, etc. For this occasion, I thought I would add some Native American ingredients—such as wild rice, cranberries, and pecans.
Wild rice is actually an American grass seed. Unlike white rice, wild rice does not have the outer bran sheath removed and this coating contains a lot of pectin which slows the absorption of water. As a result, wild rice cooks very slowly and tends to look “blown out” when done.
Tip: A trick to cooking the wild rice more evenly and quickly is to add a bit of baking soda to the cooking liquid. The soda breaks down the pectin and allows the water greater access to the endosperm inside the hull.
There was still the problem of the time delay. As soon as you dress the greens they start to wilt and over time the rice would become soggy. If I simply made the salad in the morning it might be very unappealing by the time Jan planned to serve it.
My solution was to keep the parts of the salad separate until serving. I would put the greens in one bag, wild rice in another, pecan bits in a third, and the dressing with the pickled fruit and vegetables in a sealed container. When Jan is ready to serve, she would simply assemble and toss the salad—voilà, “instant” fresh salad.
Note: I had planned to use twice as much arugula—2 bags—but when Jan saw how much food other people had brought she ended up only using one.
After Dinner Note: One of the women commented that her husband had gone back for seconds and “…he never has seconds on salad!” I would count this as a success.
Karl’s Wild Rice and Arugula Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
1 cup wild rice
1 tsp. thyme, separate uses
½+ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
¼ tsp. baking soda
7 oz. arugula
½ cup pecan bits
1. Rinse the rice and put it into a medium pot with four cups of water.
Tip: You cook wild rice more like pasta than regular white rice. The cooking time for different varieties of wild rice differ greatly and you do not want to risk scorching by adding too little water. When the rice is tender, you drain off the excess liquid.
2. Stir a half teaspoon of thyme and ½ teaspoon of salt into the rice.
3. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot.
Tip: Check the rice after 45 minutes—it may take as much as an hour to reach your desired tenderness.
Note: Do not worry about the steam escaping while you check the rice. There should be enough liquid in the pot that it makes no difference.
4. When the rice is tender, drain it well and set it aside.
5. Mix the marmalade, oil, ½ teaspoon of thyme, the chervil, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.
Tip: The dressing will seem very thick at this point. The moisture released by the vegetables will thin the dressing out.
6. Peel, quarter and slice the Asian pear-apples thinly and put them in the bowl.
Tip: If you have a mandoline, slice the vegetables directly into the bowl.
7. Slice the radishes into the bowl.
Tip: If they are very large radishes cut them in half pole to pole.
8. Mix the vegetables and cranberries into the dressing and let the melt for at least half an hour.
Tip: 2-3 hours is better to give the cranberries time to absorb the pear-apple juice.
Note: The salad may be put on hold at this point for at least 6 hours. It is easily transportable and quick to assemble at the last minute.
9. Just before serving toss the arugula and rice with the fruit, vegetable dressing to mix and coat.
10. Garnish with the pecan bits and serve.
Jan recently discovered that her birth father’s people live/lived in the mountainous region of along the Jalisco / Nayarit border. She asked for a Mexican Christmas with tamales this year. I decided that I needed a salad to go with them. A site I found describing Jalisco cuisine mentioned a pico de gallo of “pieces of jicama, orange, pineapple with lime juice and ground chili.”
I was looking for a vegetable side dish to go with my meatloaf. A few weeks ago, I discovered that letting the root vegetables marinate in a marmalade base worked really well as a salad dressing. This is what I settled on for tonight’s salad.