Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Chopped Asian-style Salad

Restaurant menus are a constant source of inspiration for my home cooking. This recipe was inspired by a recent lunch at a local gastropub. I ordered a hearty ramen noodle salad with tofu, and even as I took the first couple of bites, I knew I had to recreate it- which would be easy enough. The salad had mixed greens and shredded carrot, a soy-sesame vinaigrette, and lots of tasty toppings- pickled onions and jalapeƱos, green onions, fried wonton strips, crushed raw ramen noodles, and some grilled tofu.

Ramen salad with tofu

Veggie Reuben sandwich with fries

There was another reason to try making this chopped Asian-style salad: I had the perfect dressing for it waiting in my pantry. A few months ago, V got us a really fun holiday gift- the "By Jing" box of Sichuan flavor essentials from the gourmet Sichuan spice company, Fly by Jing

V is a huge fan of spicy chili crisp- an absolute essential in our pantry- and I think he came across this fancy set and thought it would be fun to try. It came with a bunch of chili oils, chili crisps, a spice powder, and a chili crisp vinaigrette that I had been waiting to use. 

I started by making a batch of this beautiful, colorful salad mix
  • Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • Red cabbage, shredded finely on a mandoline slicer
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Cucumber, cut in medium dice
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
Meanwhile, I made some quick pickled onions: Slice onions thinly and place in a mason jar. Boil water, vinegar (white+ apple cider vin), salt and sugar, pour into the mason jar, and refrigerate. 

When we were ready to eat, I cooked a few vegetable potsticker dumplings, from Trader Joe's and pan-fried a block of tofu

To serve: Place salad mix in a bowl, top with tofu and dumplings, and crunchy chow mein noodles (optional; sold in the Asian section of supermarkets), and drizzle with the chili crisp vin. A fantastic dinner! 

Days later, I got a chance to make this salad again, when the middle school parents were asked to bring in salads for a teacher appreciation potluck dinner. This time, I made the same salad mix, skipped the tofu and dumplings, and made my own version of the vinaigrette with chili crisp, soy sauce, maple syrup, canola oil, and sesame oil. I sent the salad mix in a box, and sent the vinaigrette "on the side", in a squeeze bottle. 

Using red cabbage and shredding it finely on a mandoline makes all the difference here, in my opinion. It tastes and looks just beautiful. The mandoline I own is a very basic one, purchased from an Indian cookware store decades ago. I should really use it more than I do! 

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The second dish I took to the teacher dinner was a potato salad. Instead of the usual American-style mayo-based potato salad (which I also love), I tried a long-pinned recipe, Vaishali's potato and peas salad in a turmeric coconut dressing. I followed the recipe quite closely, adding a few chopped fresh curry leaves to the tempering. The salad was terrific and I will definitely make it again in the coming warmer months. 

* * *
I am on a neighborhood email list of a thousand or so people. Among the workaday emails flying back and forth all day- strollers for sale, recommendations for plumbers, lost cats, cranky complaints about traffic- there is one neighbor who sends along poems once a week or so. Every so often, one of the poems strikes a chord with me. 

This is a recent such poem if you would like to read it- For everyone who tried on the slipper before Cinderella by Ariana Brown. 

Happy Spring Equinox 2024. Coming up in the next post: a classic Spring pasta recipe. Can you guess what it is? 


  1. What a wonderful recipe. Makes me want to buy a mandolin shredder now! I love Asian salads and order it regularly!

    1. I think a mandoline slicer is a really fun tool and makes salads more appealing. (I am particularly a fan of chopped salads). But a sharp knife will do the trick too :)

  2. Lovely poem, Nupur. Thanks for sharing! The salad looks refreshing. I love my mandoline even though years ago I sliced the tip of my pinky on it. Needed a trip to the ER and some surgical glue. I still use it though because nothing else is quite as effective on cabbage for salads. I did buy cut resistant gloves and wear one now when I have to use the mandoline. The cut was totally my fault. I was distracted and not focused on what I was doing. The perils of multitasking!


    1. Anu- Ouch! That's an unfortunate injury. I don't wear gloves but will think of you and go slowly and carefully on the mandoline :) It is really great for cabbage. For bigger projects I bust out my food processor shredding blade but this is perfect for a salad.

  3. from Johanna @ https://gggiraffe.blogspot.com/
    I love that poem - really beautiful and hopeful. And great salads. I am so happy Sylvia has really embraced salads so we are eating them more. The potato salad looks delicious and I love how you are using some of the crunchy noodles in your ramen salad. I've never heard of chilli crisp before so I had to look it up - not sure it is sold widely in Australia.

    1. Hi Johanna- Australia has a vibrant Chinese community so I feel sure that you will find chili crisp (Lao Gan Ma is the most popular brand) in Asian stores there. It is truly a wonderful condiment if you like heat. The flavor is real.

      We ate a similar salad for dinner today- cabbage slaw, tofu, spicy peanut dressing. So good.


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