When I started this experiment with blogging food stuff, I said that cooking was all about sharing, no post better illustrates that than this one. This is my take on a recipe that I got from Bren Finan, which he got from a friend of his, who got it from her mother, who probably got it from hers, and so on back through the ages. Bren’s friend’s mum happens to be Japanese, hence, this is an oriental salad. I’ve made my own alterations to the original as Bren thought it to me, and goodness know how many other alterations there have been, so the chances are very little of the original is recognisable!
This is a wonderfully imprecise dish, and open to infinite variety, so please please please experiment. Just use this post as a starting point, not as an end point.
Anyhow, when I make this salad I use the following:
- A family pack of mixed leaves (i.e. a 100g bag with pre-washed lettuce of different colours in it)
- One Apple
- Half a block of mature red cheddar cheese, i.e. about 100g (bet this bit isn’t traditionally Japanese!)
- A quarter of a cucumber (I like to get organic)
- A handful of Cherry Tomatoes (I always get Organic, especially for a salad)
- Some Mixed chopped nuts (I just use a small sprinkling, and you can use whole nuts too)
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper & salt
Start by washing, coring and dicing the Apple. You can peel it if you like, but I much prefer to leave the skin on. Next, chop the cheese into cubes, and dice the cucumber. Yes, you heard me right, dice the cucumber. Ordinarily I believe cucumber is at it best sliced as thin as humanly possible, but in this case, I want little cubes of cucumber to math my little cubes of Apple and cheese. I just make thick slices (1cm or so), stack them a few high, and then slice down on them twice one way and then twice at 90 degrees to those first cuts. Finally, the last of the chopping, quarter the cherry tomatoes into little segments. (Even I can’t dice a cherry tomato!)
Next you need a BIG bowl – I don’t have one big enough not to make a mess, so I use big pot! Start by adding the mixed leaves, then add all your chopped ingredients, and finally sprinkle the nuts over the top.
Now we’re ready for the unscientific and messy bit. We need to make the dressing. Start by adding enough olive oil so everything will be wet when it’s all mixed up. This is total trial an error at first, and you can always add more later – what you can’t do later is take any away, so best err on the side of caution! Once the olive oil has been added, add about a quarter as much balsamic vinegar. Finally, add a about a quarter as much soy sauce as you did balsamic vinegar. Next, roll up your sleeves, and mix it all up with your hands! If you don’t have enough dressing, add more olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce until you do. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer into a nice bowl for serving (assuming you made it in an ugly pot like I do anyway).
Because of all the acid in this salad, it doesn’t keep. I find that even just 3 or 4 hours later the lettuce has already gone to mush, so I make it directly before sitting down to eat, and I just make enough for one meal.
I said I edited this recipe – I think the cucumber is my addition, and I know Bren absolutely totally and utterly insists that this salad MUST have Rocket in it. I hate the stuff, so, I leave it out. If you like it, definitely add it, because it compliments the nuts nicely, apparently.