Warmer days are coming, and temperatures here will be in the high 60s all week this week. I know there will be a freeze before the real spring is here, but for now it is great weather for hiking and being outside. For a lighter meal perfect for warmer days, I have a new salad that has captured my fancy. I cannot get enough of it! Light and refreshing, it is a wonderful addition to a meal, or in a larger version is a meal on its own.
This was my meal at a local Japanese restaurant, Sora, with their version of this salad. My friend and I were sitting at the sushi bar, and the sushi chef was friendly and chatty, happy to share his recipe for the salad.
I came home knowing I couldn’t get all the ingredients used in the restaurant version, one is the bits left over from frying tempura. But, I could come close if I really put my mind to it. The salad is really simple, just lettuce and imitation crab meat, with some crunchy bits and a special dressing.
Since I couldn’t do tempura bits, I chose something close that would add a bit more flavor at the same time, canned fried onions. The imitation crab meat is made from pollack fish and king crab meat with egg whites, so it is really more of a real food product than you might think. It is also fully cooked and ready to eat right out of the package. It freezes well, so if you cannot eat the whole package in a few days, you can freeze the sticks in smaller portions to pull out as needed.
Begin by chopping the lettuce into julienne strips.
Cut the imitation crab into strips too. You’ll find it pulls apart into smaller strips as you cut.
Toss the crab and lettuce with the canned fried onions, proportions to your taste.
The dressing is a sriracha mayonnaise. This is easy to make and also to taste. Sriracha is an Asian hot sauce made from red jalapeno peppers (the ripened form of the green ones you usually think of), garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar. It has a different taste than the usual hot sauce, and is thicker. To make the mayonnaise, begin with a half cup of mayonnaise, and add just a teaspoon of sriracha. Try some, and decide if you want it a bit more spicy, you can always add more. In this proportion, the dressing will be flavorful but not hot. I found that I liked a bit more, and use a tablespoon sriracha to one cup mayo as my final preference. I also found the sauce does nicely in tomato juice to zip up a Bloody Mary, LOL!! Using a bit in any tomato sauce, or soup also adds a nice kick of flavor.
Toss the salad with dressing, serve and enjoy.
I keep making this salad, having it for dinner by itself last week during a warm day. I had some fresh spinach that I added, julienne cut.
The lettuce isn’t lasting long around here now, LOL!! I tossed two sticks of imitation crab with lettuce and spinach.
Dressed with sriracha mayonnaise, I filled my bowl for a light meal. To make the salad gluten free, you’ll need to substitute gluten free croutons for the fried onions, as the label says there is some wheat in them.
Yum, I’ll be making this all summer!! Light and fresh tasting, a perfect meal for a warm day.
Julienne cut lettuce – about one cup
Julienne cut imitation crab – two sticks
2 tablespoons canned fried onions, more or less to taste
Julienne cut spinach – about 1/2 cup (optional)
Sriracha Mayonnaise dressing – one cup mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
Combine first three (or four) ingredients, lightly dress with Sriracha mayonnaise. Makes one large salad for one, or side salads for two.
Just for fun, if you have Netflix, there are three Japanese series that I have thoroughly enjoyed and would love to mention. First and my most favorite, a quirky series called Samauri Gourmet, short 20-minute episodes about a newly retired man discovering the joy of dining alone. He is a timid guy, but his Samauri alter ego shows him how to let go of his fears and eat freely. Hilarious and only a few episodes. Next, Midnight Diner, also a short episode series about a diner only open from midnight to dawn, and the stories are about the people who eat there. Lastly, Japanese Style Originator, a show with Japanese celebrities answering questions about culture and arts in Japan, with informational stories about all kinds of things from gardens to artisans to food. All are in Japanese with subtitles. Update – another great one is What She Put on the Table, a docudrama series about Pei Mei Fu, a pioneer in Japanese cooking.
Are you hungry for a summer salad?