Spring Menu – Salad and Dessert

bowl of riceIn the two previous blogs we’ve covered the appetizers and main courses.  This blog will have the remainder recipes for the salad, rice, pickles and dessert.

Asian meals usually have rice, pickles and soup to round them off. The pickled vegetables in Japan and China, tend to be salty and sour while the Koreans enjoy theirs spicy, like kimchee.  The pickle recipe here is extremely basic, it’s really an Asian pickles 101. Just salt and cucumbers.  But once you know how to do this, you will have the basics to create your own original recipe!  Now how fun is that!  The important thing here is to create a crunchy texture.


Pickled Cucumbers


  • Persian cucumbers
  • salt

Method:

  • Wash cucumbers and sprinkle with salt.  Roll the cucumbers in the salt.
  • Now, cut them into bite size pieces and again sprinkle with salt.  Place the cucumbers in a bowl.
  • Next, you want to place a weight on the vegetables to release the moisture.  This is what gives them their crunchy texture. To do this, place a plate that has a smaller circumference than the bowl so it can be put directly on top of the cucumbers.    Next, place a weight, such as a big rock, on top of the plate to squeeze out the liquid.
  • Let this sit for a minimum of several hours, but ideally, a day in the refrigerator.
  • Drain the liquid and gently wash the cucumbers.  They should be a little salty but crunchy.  Enjoy them just as is, or with a little soy sauce.

Rice

Yes, I’m going to explain rice, which may seem ridiculous at first but I have been asked about rice many times.   With this little knowledge I hope you can avoid buying the wrong item.   Although rice is an Asian staple, many non-Asians don’t realize that there is a very large variety of rice.  Japanese rice is the japonica grain which is different from Indian, Thai and Chinese rice.  So, the first thing is to buy the correct type of rice for your purpose.  Usually in the U.S., the package will say sushi rice or Japanese, California or Calrose rice, but basically it is a short grain, rather oval shaped grain.  When we lived in Kuwait the  Australian calrose rice was the closest choice.   For cooking the rice, almost all the Asians I know have a rice cooker.  That’s because we eat rice everyday and we don’t have the time to stand around and wait for a pot to boil and keep an eye on it.  With a rice cooker, you just wash the rice, add water and push a button.  Some even have timers on them, so you can plan ahead.  If you don’t have a rice cooker I recommend getting one because they are easy to use and very convenient.  I bought a very cheap one when my son went off to college.  However, it was too cheap that it broke within the year.  So, I suggest spending around $50.00 for rice cooker  that will last many years.

Asian Salad

I thought about what kind of Asian Salad would be good for this menu.  In the end, I decided on one that has readily available ingredients anywhere in the world:  celery, carrots, cucumbers, spring onions, sesame seeds and a very basic dressing.  So, what makes it Asian?   The spring onions, sesame seeds and also the soy sauce in the dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 Persian cucumbers or 1 large English cucumber
  • 3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
  • 4 spring onions finely chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar; I never used to put sugar in my dressings, however; I noticed my children ate more salad if the dressing was a little sweet.  Please adjust this to your liking.
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Method:

  • Cut the carrots, celery and cucumber into julienne strips, basically very thin strips then add the spring onions and sesame seeds.
  • For the dressing, I like to put all the ingredients in a glass jar.  With a good shake, you have a very well blended dressing with little mess.
  • Pour dressing over salad and toss.

Finally for the dessert.  Keep it simple with green tea ice cream, strawberries and Japanese Pocky, which is a chocolate covered pretzel.  If you can’t get green tea ice cream, switch to vanilla or your favorite flavor.  Don’t stress about it, just enjoy the party, it’s Spring!  Hope you give this party menu a try.

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