Monday, 3 September 2012

Asian Salad

Asian food is so delicious and appropriate at this time of year; when your dietary requirements are lighter and  your palate has taken a summer break from needing to be satisfied by large plates of lardy goodness.

Don't get me wrong, I love eating winter warmers, but at the beginning of September, I'm starting to get a bit anxious that the autumn chill is nearly upon us, and so, in denial, I carry on with my summery diet until the last leaf has fallen of the trees.

I actually love autumn. Mrs Ribeye and frequently I take a nice evening stroll through Regent's Park, just a few hundred yards away from Potless Towers, and we love to notice that the evenings are getting a little chillier and the trees are starting to lose their fresh lustre. You'll notice that the photography on the site will start to be a little less bright as I take photos indoors instead of on the roof terrace during the summer months (I was a bit worried that I would need to get a bright lamp to take pics, but why? I think it's nice to chart the seasons on the brightness of my photos).

On the weekend, we had an Asian-influenced dinner party with some very close friends, and this salad started us off nicely. The main course was a delicious Malaysian Laksa (recipe to follow), and the two courses complimented each other beautifully. The evening was a little bit spicy, a little bit rich, a little bit fresh and a little bit drunk (oops).

For your Asian salad; just choose the crunchiest, most colourful vegetables you can buy. Even raw cabbage is brilliant. The dressing is inspired by my many visits to the Benihana chain of restaurants - Benihana pretends to be Japanese, but it's really American. My dressing pretends to be Asian, but it's really from Marylebone in London. I bought a ton of specialist ingredients from my local Asian grocery and whacked them together with no idea if it would all work out.

I needn't have worried. The salad was incredible, and my laksa was equally terrific. If you serve these two dishes together as a dinner party menu, then make life easy on yourself and serve a flavoured yoghurt with fresh fruit as a dessert. It sounds a bit easy and a cop-out - except that I was served it at my friend Ying's house, and if it's good enough for a real Asian person, it's good enough for an aspiring one! Needless to say, our guests scoffed the lot (one of my most important criteria in selecting friends, is their capacity to greedily scoff).

Cost-wise, this recipe is as reasonable as it is tasty. £1.25 per serving is all it is.

Serves 4 (as a starter)

Salad ingredients:

1 small packet of wild rocket leaves
1 yellow pepper, cut into 5mm matchsticks
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 5mm matchsticks
Third of a cucumber, deseeded and cut into 5mm matchsticks
Handful of beansprouts

Thumb of ginger, peeled and cut into 2mm matchsticks, for sprinkling
Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Fresh coriander leaves, for sprinkling

Arrange the vegetables in a haphazard manner - you are looking for a light, random colourful pile. Dress the salad first, then garnish with the ginger, sesame seeds and coriander leaves.

Dressing ingredients:

3 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, drained
2 tablespoons stem ginger syrup
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons of water

Whizz the ingredients up in a blender and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavours mellow and develop. Serve the salad immediately after the dressing has been added.

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