Sunday, September 18, 2011

Asian Salad

I start drooling again everytime I look at these pictures.... This salad is so yummy! This salad started from an idea from my fabulous friend and it is delicious! There are quite a few ingredients in this salad... understand, it is not hard to prepare, but it just takes some time to chop and prepare. It is a great salad to serve at a party too! You can put all of the fruits and vegetables and toppings into separate bowls and let everyone create a salad bar so that all the guests can create a salad to their liking. You can include as many or as few of the ingredients listed, but for the full taste and complexity of flavor, you kinda have to add all of the parts... at least once!

It is really yummy.... There is crunchy and sweet and salty flavors... it is fabulous! Let me say it again... I think you should try it at least once.

Here's a close up of the salad.... Mmmmmm.... Ready? Let's get to the ingredients...

Fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried...

Leafy romaine lettuce... Wash the lettuce first and let it drip dry. I should have taken pictures of a great way to cut up romaine lettuce in order to get nice bite size pieces.... let me try to explain it... Using your chef's knife, hold the lettuce at the base (on the left side). Starting at the base, slice up the leaves of the lettuce (parallel to the leaves... like if you are holding the lettuce like the picture, you would slice from left to right). Rotate the lettuce a half turn, and slice up again. Then starting at the top of the head of lettuce (on the right side of the picture) chop up the lettuce, until you have finished chopping the entire head and have reached the base.

To fully diversify the flavor of the salad.... use a nice crisp iceberg lettuce as well... all chopped up into bite size pieces.

Add green (not pictured) and red cabbage... prepared the same way.
First slice a chunk off of the main head of cabbage, and then thinly slice it using your chef's knife.
Finally, chunk the cabbage up into about one inch pieces.

Chopped celery... I like to chop off the celery directly from the bunch...

Then wash the chopped celery in a colander and let it dry before adding it to the salad.

Mmmm... Green onions... great flavor for any salad. Wash the green onions... dry them off.
Then chop them into small bits.

I like to put the spinach, leafy romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, red & green cabbage, celery, and green onions into one big salad bowl so that there are fewer sides. But you can put everything into individual bowls. Of course this will depend on how many bowls or how much room you have to lay it all out. All the colors together are wonderful when you put it in a bowl together.

These are things that I typically leave on the side...

Jicama... I love jicama (pronounced hick-uh-muh)! It is a watery, sweet, root vegetable with a tremendous crispy crunch. It is fabulous. You can find them at the grocery store in the produce section. You want to pick a firm, medium sized jicama that has dry roots. You don't want it to be soft or with wet spots because that is an indication of rot. It keeps very nicely in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It is a great source of vitamin c and it is fat free. TIP: You can eat these jicama sticks along with your carrots and celery sticks. A GREAT SNACK!

First peel the jicama root with a peeler or with a knife.
Then slice it into 1/4 inch slices...
Turn it the other direction and slice it again... creating these long skinny sticks of wonderful jicama goodness. Put these into a bowl to be added to the salad when you are compiling your plate full of salad.

Bean sprouts... Buy them in bulk in the produce section. Wash them off and put into a bowl.

Fresh oranges, cut up.

First cut off the top and bottom of the orange. Take the peel off. (either pull off the peel or cut if off with a knife)Separate the slices, but leave them slightly together to make it easier to cut them. Slice them into small chunks and put into a bowl. A nice sharp serrated knife works really well for the oranges so they don't become mushy and they hold their shape.

I LOOOOOVE avocado and I think it always make a salad or a sandwich taste better and they are incredibly good for you! These are Hass avocados... To find a good avocado you want to feel it to make sure that is firm, but tender. I know it sounds like a contradictory thing, but you want it to be firm all over, with a slight soft feeling but not mushy. Sometimes at the grocery store you will find very firm avocados, but they will ripen up quickly on the counter (or you can put them into a brown paper bag).

Once you have found the perfect avocado, you take a knife and slice it around the middle of the avocado and then pull the two halves apart. Take the seed out by stabbing a knife into the seed and twisting it out.
Then slice the avocado into squares. Slice it up one direction and then again in the opposite direction so that it looks like this. (Sometimes I like to sprinkle salt and pepper on the avocado at this stage and eat it right out of the skin with a spoon!)
Using a spoon, scoop out this green goodness.
This avocado is a very soft and ripe avocado, so the squares are a little bit mushy, but it has great flavor. Put the avocado directly onto individual salads, or into a bowl for self-service. Okay... we are almost done... just hold on, it will be well worth the time it takes to cut everything up.

Crushed peanuts... Salty and crunchy... they add immense dimension to the salad. I use Dry Roasted Peanuts, lightly salted.
A great way to cut up peanuts is to turn your large chef's knife onto the side and press it down on top of the peanuts.
Move the knife around until all the peanuts have been crushed into pieces. If you need to, you can turn the knife to its sharp edge and finish chopping up any large pieces. Put these into a bowl with a spoon for serving.

A terrific crunchy piece of this salad are the crunchy won ton strips. Buy some won ton wrappers at the grocery store (found in the refrigerator section- normally by cheese and dairy type stuff). Pull out a stack of won ton wrappers and cut them into about half inch strips.
Heat up a small amount of oil in the bottom of skillet over medium heat. Fry a few of the won ton strips at a time. You'll have to do them in batches, depending on how big your pan is and how much oil you use. Keep them moving around so they don't get overdone.

After they turn a golden brown, transfer them to a paper towel to drain the oil off and if you want you can sprinkle a tiny amount fine sea salt on top of them. These will be the final piece of the salad puzzle, other than the dressings. (I know you are probably wondering if it will ever end. It will!)

Peanut Sauce... you can either buy a pre-made peanut sauce in the Asian section at the grocery store.... or make this yummy peanut sauce. My friend Gina gave me this recipe and it has become a staple in my recipe box... one that I will treasure forever! It has to be remembered! It is fantastic for pizza and dipping and salads and lettuce wraps and many more things. I like to make a batch and keep it in a bottle in my refrigerator so it is easily accessible. You can pour this dressing onto your salad cold or warm it up a bit.
{{Thai Peanut Sauce}}

(printer friendly version)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons soy sauce

6 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 -1 teaspoon lime juice

Combine all the ingredients into a heavy saucepan and cook over medium to low heat until fully combined. About 10 minutes. Serve on salad cold or warm. Use as a dipping sauce for veggies. Use to top lettuce wraps. Use as the sauce for a Thai Chicken Pizza

Drizzle this delicious peanut sauce onto the salad.

Finally... the dressing. This is just a purchased dressing that is fantastic and has the perfect flavor for this salad. Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame dressing.

The only other thing that I didn't put on this salad, that you will see on the ingredient list is chicken. My husband likes to have protein in his dinners, so if I am making this for a family dinner dish, then I make sure to include chicken. I've used canned chicken, or I've marinated some chicken in the Asian Toasted Sesame dressing and then grilled or baked it, then you can slice it up and put it on the salad. I love it when the meat is slightly warmed up. I like having the contrast between the cool, crisp vegetables and then the warm yummy chicken.

{{Asian Salad}}

(printer friendly version)

Fresh Spinach leaves

Chopped up iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce

Red Cabbage, thinly sliced

Green Cabbage, thinly sliced

Fresh oranges, peeled and cut up

Avocado, cut up

Green onions, chopped

Celery, chopped

Carrot, grated

Peanuts, crushed

Bean Sprouts

Jicama, thin strips

Cooked Chicken

Kraft Light Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing

Peanut Sauce (Pandkok KaDang… recommended type)… RECIPE for Gina’s Peanut Sauce (above)

Won Ton Strips (egg roll wrappers cut into strips, fried and lightly salted)

Mix all chopped ingredients together or put them all on the side for people to create their own salad. Add dressing and a small amount of Peanut sauce. Sprinkle with some fried won ton strips and serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy making and eating this salad as much as we do.

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