In Japan, we often say, we “eat with the eyes.”
In Japan, it’s believed that how the food appears to your eyes greatly impacts the way it tastes. That’s why in traditional Japanese cuisine, chefs pay a lot of attention to the presentation of the food.
Aside from the appearance of the food, I think texture is also an important factor which determines the taste of the food. Those two factors – appearance and texture – actually serve as useful tools in making a delicious dish, because if you nail those two, even with a super simple recipe, the food will taste wonderful, guaranteed!
Today’s salad is all about appetizing colors – a combination of green, white and red – and a nice, crunchy texture! I used saltwort, Japanese white yam and tomatoes, and both saltwort and yam have this nice crunchy texture.
For green, you can also use spinach, seaweed, chopped string beans, boiled asparagus or even green peppers. If you are using a vegetable that needs to be boiled beforehand like I did, make sure you put the vegetable in icy cold water immediately after taking it out of the boiling pot. This stops the discoloring process and preserves the bright green color.
For white, Japanese yam has distinct sliminess that might scare a lot of non-Japanese away and it might also be hard to find outside of Japan, so other alternatives are daikon radish, white turnip, boiled mushrooms (I recommend crunchy one like enoki), cauliflower, etc.
In terms of the texture, it’s important to make the ingredients similar sized. If, for example, everything is else is diced but one thing is long and stringy, it creates discord in the mouth. So cut everything in even sizes and keep it in nice harmony!
There are many ways to make “Asian” salad dressing, and the one I made for this salad is as simple as it can get. It contains 3 ingredients – salt, vinegar and oil – like any salad dressing, and to make it Asian, I used soy sauce (to be exact, I’m using shoyu-koji), rice vinegar (or lemon juice will also work) and flaxseed oil (sesame oil will also be nice). You could also add a tiny bit of miso to give it a very distinct Japanese flavor.
Like any salad, keep the ingredients refrigerated and dress them right before serving!
This salad goes well with any Asian dish. In particular, if you match it with “heavy” or “strong” dishes like fried food or spicy food, it will be a great refreshing counterpart to such dishes. Bon appetit!