After a glut of ice-cream and sorbet, today is a frost-free zone! This is because last night I took a big step and…signed up with a personal trainer! The first session was great, although I am currently knowing levels of pain that I had never even known could exist.
Aching with every step, and hoping that all this pain would hopefully lead to some sort of gain, I decided to make a healthy lunch. Something Asian and light. I am happy to admit that I did not put too much thought into this recipe, but rather I just checked out – as usual – what I had in the cupboard, and selected out anything that looked exotic and had suggestions of Asia about it. Edamame beans, sprouts, sesame oil. You get the picture. I also happened to have some alfalfa and China rose radish sprouts (which were a little peppery and added an additional interesting flavour to the salad). The great thing about these sorts of dishes is that you can customise them to suit what you want to eat and what you have to hand – I can also see this working well with a few pieces of tofu, a little quinoa and/or some glass noodles. For me, the successful part of this dish was getting the dressing right – sesame oil, lime juice and soy sauce, so that it is by turns sharp, citrus, salty and nutty, but it does not overwhelm the main ingredients.
I’m not sure how authentic all of this is, but as someone who one day wants to Japan and experience its food and culture, it kept me happy this lunchtime. Perhaps the time has come for me to get hold a vegetarian Japanese cookbook?
For the salad (main for one, side salad for two):
• 150g edemame beans, boiled, drained and cooled
• 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, toasted
• 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
• 1 teaspoon nigella (black onion) seeds, toasted
• 1 generous handful of alfalfa
• 1 generous handful of China rose radish sprouts
• 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips
Place all the ingredients in a bowl, add the dressing and toss lightly before serving.
If you need to toast the pumpkin seeds, this is easiest done in the oven at 200°C for around 10 minutes until they smell of toasted nuts. To toast the nigella seeds and sesame, put into a saucepan without any oil and dry-fry until the are aromatic and the sesame is lightly golden. Be careful with all of them – they burn easily!
For the dressing:
• 3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil (e.g. grapeseed)
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
• pinch of sugar
• 1 teaspoon chilli sauce
Put all the ingredients in a jam jar, and share vigorously. Like a mini-workout.
Worth making? This is a really nice dressing which has more pronounced and interesting flavours than normal the normal oil-vinegar mixture. Using the edamame beans as the main ingredient makes this quite a different lunch or side salad, and keeps it filling without being heavy. Really worth trying, and so easy to adapt to your personal tastes.