The ExPat Returneth

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Salad Days: Literally & Figuratively (with Asian Dressing)

I'm experiencing an exciting new juncture in my life with my debut novel. A true "Salad Days", as I'm so green and so thrilled by every aspect of the publication journey. In my thrall to editing and writing, cooking (and a bunch of other stuff) has gone by the wayside. 
"Asian Summer Salad"

Luckily, it's summer weather here in the south. I don't know why, but cooking feels simpler in the summer. Grilling. Salads. Food held by buns. Maybe it feels easier because I have a partner who takes over outdoor cooking (inside he suffers from Male Refrigerator Blindness), and I can delegate more. I get homemade pulled pork in good weather. 

I like good weather.

Soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar
& sesame oil
Unless we want the ultimate caveman diet, I do have to scrounge some sides. So, today I have a salad chock full of nature's goodness with an easy Asian dressing. Good anytime, this especially takes advantage of great summer veggies. It helps to have a mandolin or another kind of slicer, but you can cut the veggies thinly with a knife. 

There are several Japanese vinegar and soy based dressings that go well with cold meat and veggies. This one is based on a Sanbaizu (3 flavor dressing) but I add a fourth ingredient for extra yumminess: sesame oil.

Asian Summer Salad

My Japanese slicer
Red Pepper
Red or Sweet Onion 
And/Or any other veggie that can be eaten raw and thinly sliced (e.g. yellow squash)

Peel and Seed appropriately. Slice all thinly. Super thin if you can. Like 1/16" or 1/4 centimeter. Mix with Sanbaizu +1 dressing. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Sanbaizu Dressing + 1
I love ratio dressings. Mainly because I hate dividing. This is great on all kinds of salads. We love it on cold meat, too.

Rice Vinegar
Big sister using
grinder over salad
Soy Sauce
Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
 5:5:3 (5 parts vinegar & soy sauce; 1 part mirin)

Combine, bring to a boil, and cool. A quick boil smoothes the vinegar. In a pinch you can make it without boiling.

+ 1 sesame oil (add after boiling to the 5:5:3). 

I have found Aji sesame oil (with added chili pepper) gives it a nice kick, but can be too spicy for my kids. Be sure you keep the 5:5:3:1 ratio. Sesame oil is really strong!

Our sesame seed grinder
Check out this little sesame seed grinder. We got it in Japan, so I don't know if it's available elsewhere. We had a favorite ramen restaurant that had these at the table, and I had to get one.

Instead of sprinkling the sesame seeds over the salad, I use the grinder. It gives the salad an even nuttier flavor. 

Hope you enjoy! And here's to summer, where ever you may be. 

Do you have any great summer recipes inspired by your host country that you'd like to share? Tell me in the comment section. I'd love to share your recipe on the blog!

And thank you to the Japan Blog Directory (by Nihon Ichiban) for adding The ExPat Returneth to your directory! Arigato Gozaimashita!


  1. Oh this really sounds yummy and quick.

    1. Thanks Savannah! That's the only way I like cooking: yummy & quick.;)

  2. I love all the summer salads that you can put with a grilled piece of meat and VOILA...healthy meal. That looks delicious. I also have those exact soy sauce and sesame oil containers in my pantry. I've never bought rice vinegar before. I'll have to get some.

    1. This is a great dressing for salads with meat. We eat a lot of salads with meat in the summer. Hope you enjoy!