There’s this Korean salad I first tasted about a decade ago and fell in love with it immediately. Subsequently, as a family, the three of us adore it and use it every place we can. The only boring part, is cleaning the spinach.
The best part of this dish for me, is the heavenly aroma of that delicious sesame oil. Take care you use the Chinese style and not the south Indian version. Both are very different.
The ingredients are simple and it graces most platters well, going with most other foods, meat or vegetable. There are a few ingredient variations, and you could try adding your own special touch when you make it at home.
Spinach, blanched, squeezed and chopped
Mix all the ingredients together.
Serve as a side dish or as part of a platter
Ingredient variations include roasted sesame seeds, finely sliced green chillies (deseeded or not) and whole, blanched and squeezed spinach instead of chopped, among others. You do what works best with you.
The quantities depend on your tastes. A whole bunch of spinach is usually enough for a single person as a whole course. The same bunch is usually enough for the three of us as part of a larger meal.
A few days ago, I wanted to make sandwiches for dinner. As far as sandwiches go, the outcomes are usually predictable, and boring. Then again, a sandwich can be such a versatile container for textures and flavours.
Why then do we almost always stick to the tried and tested? If you experiment with sandwiches, do leave a comment with an example of your work – I’d love to know!
So, I thought I’d make a filling that was different from what we were used to.
Chicken breast, boneless, 500gm, cut into strips
Dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp
Light soy sauce, 1 tbsp
Fish sauce, 2 tsp (optional)
Onions, 2 medium, sliced
Garlic, 10 cloves, finely chopped
Sesame seeds, white, 1 tsp
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
Salt, to taste
Vinegar, 2 tsp
Oil, 2 tbsp
Heat oil, fry onions and garlic till the onions are translucent, but not browned
Add the rest of the ingredients, except sesame seeds. Mix well.
Simmer till the chicken is cooked.
Add sesame seeds
We stuffed this chicken into our sandwiches and they turned out great. The chicken added elements of juiciness, texture and flavour, and we loved our dinner that night!
Cherie had a friend coming over and I so like feeding people in addition to trying to expose kids to flavours they may not have tasted before. This was Holi and we were confined to our quarters all day; a good opportunity to cook, not that I really need one.
Given how much I adore bowl meals, and how great they taste, and how great they look … I went with making a rice bowl for our early dinner.
These bowls have different components and can be as simple or complex as you want them to be. At it’s simplest, your rice bowl could be just rice, broth and one topping. Me? I like ’em grand.
One point of caution: the more the toppings, the bigger the bowl.
As with quite a few, perhaps most of my food, concepts keep forming and are continually considered, discarded and adopted, until the final picture makes complete sense.
The first thing I needed was rice, which Indu took over. I suck at cooking rice. I asked her to please make it sticky. The next ingredient was broth. Now that’s usually tricky, since broths need to taste really good. Something like with Dal-Roti, the dal needs to be delicious or the whole meal is a goner.
Whenever I buy pork, I save the skin for stocks, soups and broths. It’s full of gelatin and is a great use for pork skin, which many tend to discard. So, into the pot of water it went, followed by Tibetan chilli paste, whole onions (with skin, chopped in half), tomatoes (whole, chopped in half), garlic (whole pod, chopped in half), dried basil, aniseed (saunf), peppercorns, green chillies (whole), fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. It cooked on low heat for about 3 hours, was then strained and further reduced until the consistency and intensity of flavours were how I wanted them.
I take quite a bit of pride in being able to rustle up a variety of dishes using only what’s in my kitchen at that point, and this day was no exception. Rummaging through the freezer, vegetable basket and other locations was a fruitful exercise and threw up stuff enough to complete the meal.
A few shrimp turned up in the freezer, which I blanched and tossed with sliced cucumber, sliced carrots, pork bits (trimmed from the pork skin) in a room temperature mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, sugar and sesame seeds.
On one hand there are meals we can literally eat without looking at our plates. That’s one of the reasons we overeat – there’s virtually no interaction with the food. Then there are meals like these that demand interaction and simply cannot be eaten without paying attention to what’s on our plates. I try to make most of my food such.
Cherie took over making Ramen eggs, which have solid whites and liquid yolks. If you like your fried eggs sunny side up and dislike solid, dry, cooked-through, boring yolks as we do, you’ll love Ramen eggs. The rule of thumb is room temperature eggs, perhaps soaked for a bit in warm water to raise their temperature so they don’t crack, cooked for 6 minutes in boiling water and then placed in an ice bath for 3 minutes. The initial 6 minutes cooks the whites and the ice bath stops the cooking process so the yolks remain liquid. Given we don’t really have eggs graded by size in India, you may need to experiment. I find this timing works best with brown eggs that have thicker shells than white broiler eggs. The yolks have vivid orange/yellow hues too and look lovely. They taste better as well.
I found these beautiful soup bowls in Majnu ka Tila (Delhi) that are larger than average, which we usually use for bowl meals. You also want to think about how the food will be eaten. If with chopsticks or forks, ,then the ingredients need to be somewhat chunky so they can be picked up easily and the rice should be sticky or clumpy. If spoons are preferred, then the ingredients must be chopped smaller.
A bottle on the window sill turned up some raw peanuts that were then pan roasted with oil and salt. Cucumber and carrots were cut into sticks and drizzled with sugary vinegar. Spring onion greens were chopped.
For meals to be interactive, the diner must be rewarded for paying attention to the food. Different combinations of flavours and textures are what we need to do so. Think of crisp, crunchy, soft, sour, sweet, chilli and so on that the diner can combine in different ways so as to deliver different experiences with every bite.
Finally, I found a bottle gourd and some kohlrabi greens. The bottle gourd was finely sliced, steamed and soaked in soy sauce. The greens were trimmed, blanched, squeezed (really hard) into a ball, chopped finely (or into bite sized pieces) and then mixed with finely sliced raw garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Finally, our meal was ready. What remained was how to plate it. Sure, it’ll be mostly mixed together when eating, but it must still look pleasing at first glance. For example, if the rice were placed on the side with the rest of the ingredients on the other side then the broth would drown half the ingredients and they wouldn’t be seen. After considering a couple of scenarios, I went with rice at the bottom, the toppings on the side and the broth poured into the middle, allowing the broth to be unseen, in favour of the rest being visible.
This meal tasted wonderful, was satisfying to cook and to eat. This format is great for enjoying food and conversation together and makes for a lively table. I hope you cook and like it. :)
Who says egg salads have to be a mess of chopped boiled eggs in a sloppy dressing? Sure, it’s a comforting combination, but you can do better.
This egg salad is a delightful mixture of eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese and flavoured oils that you’ll absolutely love making and feeding to your friends, family and children.
When you eat this salad, there’ll be a surprise in every bite – the crunch of nuts, a burst of moist sweetness from the grapes, the satisfying smoothness of cheese, crisp onions, juicy bell peppers and more.
Nutritionally, this egg salad has very low carb content, some fat and plenty of different nutrients. It’s great as a quick, light breakfast or a snack that’ll satisfy without slowing you down.
4 Eggs, medium size, beaten, scrambled
1 Bell pepper, red or yellow, chopped
5 cloves Garlic, toasted
1/2 Onion, medium size, chopped
1 tablespoon Olives, sliced
10 – 15 Mint leaves, torn
Handful Coriander, with stems and roots, chopped
1 tablespoon Cheese of your choice
1 tablespoon Peanuts, salted and roasted without oil
2 Strawberries, medium size, sliced
Handful Grapes, sweet, sliced
1 tablespoon Olive oil, extra virgin
1 tablespoon Sesame oil, Chinese
Half a lemon, juice of
Salt and pepper as per taste
Mix all ingredients and serve
When you cook and eat this salad, I want to know how it worked for you, the changes you made, why you made them and what your version tasted like. So, do leave a comment, okay? :)