scallions

Salads, Vegetables

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Has anyone been to Momofuku? Visiting a David Chang restaurant has been on my short list for many moons. And a few weeks ago serendipity intervened. I was in DC for work and as the cab pulled up to my hotel, I spied a telltale electric pink 'milk' sign belonging to Momofuku CCDC just across the way. Cue the heart eyes emoji. But my luck didn't stop there. By some small miracle I had no plans for lunch or dinner that night. I made a quick calculation as to whether this good fortune outweighed the impropriety of going to the same restaurant twice in one day. It totally did and so I went. Don't judge. 

Among the many ridiculously delicious things I ate between my two outings (pork buns, shrimp buns, spicy noodles), it's the cucumber salad that's been occupying my daydreams. It's the kind of salad you want to eat a bucket of - crunchy, refreshing, salty, and spicy. I more or less did eat a bucket since the cucumbers were such a perfect foil to the rest of the rich, heavy fare we ordered. Although I had the good sense at the time to ask our server how it was made I did not have the good sense to write it down. Of what she shared all I recall is 1) it's finished with togarashi and 2) the dressing contains pureed scallions. Curiously though you use only the light and dark green parts. This stayed with me since it's the opposite of what I've been conditioned to do with scallions. 

I did a bit of Googling but the internet failed to turn up a recipe so below is my best attempt. Is it spot on? Of course not. I'm no David Chang. But it was pretty darn good and should hold me over until Momofuku sets up shop in Boston.

Cukes | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Cucumbers | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com
Spicy Cucumber Salad | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

  • 4-6 mini seedless cucumbers (these require no peeling and have less water than the big honkers)
  • 2 scallions, roughly chopped (light and dark green parts only, toss the white bulb)
  • Handful cilantro leaves (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled + roughly chopped
  • 5 Tbs. neutral oil (canola, peanut, or safflower)
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • Togarashi spice
  • Kosher salt

Prep

  • Chop cucumbers into small chunks (split in half and then slice crosswise into 1 inch pieces).
  • Line a colander with paper towels. Place cukes in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Let the cucumbers sit at room temperature (or in fridge)  for about 30 minutes. This will infuse flavor and also sweat out some water.
  • While you're waiting make your dressing. Place scallions, ginger, cilantro, oil, rice vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Puree until smooth and taste for seasoning.
  • Toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and beginning to brown. Let cool and then roughly chop.
  • When ready to dress and serve, pat cucumbers dry with a fresh paper towel.
  • Toss cukes, dressing, almonds, and serrano chile in a bowl. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with togarashi and a few more almonds.

Salads

Napa Cabbage Salad + Peanut Dressing

Napa Cabbage Salad Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing | www.hungryinlove.com

Well, we did it. Cut the cord. Cable television is no longer taking up residence at Chez Nichols. Good riddance Guy Fieri, Sister Wives, and Dance Moms. So shameful, yet so addictive. This isn't the first time we've abstained from cable. It's been an on-again, off-again saga. Regrettably we've always come crawling back for the one fix Netflix and Apple TV can't deliver: live sports. With the Patriots playoff game only days away, I'm reminded why relapse is an ever-present threat.

Now, I know we're not alone in this camp. As I've learned it's actually quite a trendy move. So trendy in fact that some big wigs have figured out how to capitalize on our situation. Apparently ESPN is leading the charge to unbundle a sports package that you can buy a la carte. I think we're about to enter a new era, my friends.

But in the meantime I've been looking for ways to fill the time House Hunters marathons used to occupy. This salad on repeat is one of them. I think this is our third go round in two weeks. I have to say it's far more satisfying than even the most tempting reality TV.

Peanut Dressing or Sauce | www.hungryinlove.com
Napa Cabbage Close Up | www.hungryinlove.com
Napa Cabbage Salad Mise En Place | www.hungryinlove.com
Napa Cabbage Salad + Peanut Dressing | www.hungryinlove.com

Ingredients

Napa Cabbage Salad

  • 1/2 head napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage, napa is much more delicate than regular green cabbage and thus better suited for salads like this)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped 
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 Thai chiles, finely diced (if you don't like heat, leave these out)
  • 3 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 package ramen noodles, crushed and lightly toasted in a dry skillet (discard the seasoning packets)
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Peanut Dressing

  • Juice of one lime
  • 3 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. siracha
  • 1/2 sesame oil

 

Prep

  • To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Cut the cabbage into thin strips: lay the half cabbage head on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise, leaving the root end in tact. Then cut the remaining halves in half again lengthwise. Now cut all three sections crosswise into half inch strips until you reach the root end.
  • To prep the ramen noodles, crush lightly while still in packaging. Open package and discard seasoning packet. In a dry skillet over medium heat toast noodles until lightly browned, about 4-6 minutes.
  • Toss cabbage, cilantro, bean sprouts, green onions, chiles, ramen noodles, and sesame seeds with peanut dressing and serve. Tofu, chopped nuts, shredded chicken, or grilled salmon would all be top notch adds.
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