Winter is the time for a different kind of salad. There’s still lettuce and rocket from the tunnel house but a crunchier combination comes from cabbage, carrot, spring onion and fresh herbs topped with cashews and strips of beef. I used meat left over from a slow-cooked beef shin.
Processing robust raw ingredients, such as carrots and cabbage, into palatable pieces is crucial to enjoying them raw. Restaurants do this with razor-sharp knives and well-honed knife skills. I use the Borner V-slicer I originally bought at the Manchester Home and Garden show in 1987. I bought a replacement at House of Knives in Petone when we arrived in New Zealand in 1996. Nothing cuts matchsticks of carrot, cucumber or turnip better. It also turns out finely shredded cabbage and gossamer thin wafers of potato for all those baked potato-with-cream-and-cheese type things. I felt such a sucker when I was convinced by the salesman to buy the gadget. But just like my rubber broom and steam mop (other home show purchases) the V-slicer has stood the test of time in terms of both effectiveness and consistency of use.
A salad dressing of any nationality demands a judicious blend of sharp, sweet, salt and oil. Chow restaurant in Tory Street, Wellington has a ‘two dishes for the price of one’ deal from noon until 4pm every day at the moment. I based the dressing on what I’d tasted on their Asian chicken salad. I also took advantage of the big bag of limes I’d bought at the side of the road on a recent visit to the Hawke’s Bay. Using prodigious quantities of New Zealand citrus is always a great joy to me. Lemon juice would do at a push, but lime takes the dressing to an altogether different level. Serves two as a main course. For solo diners, eat half for dinner and take the rest for lunch tomorrow with dressing on the side.
For the salad:
one cup of finely shredded white or red cabbage
one carrot julienned
one spring onion finely sliced
handful of fresh coriander and mint, finely chopped
handful of cashew nuts
warm strips of cooked beef – left over roast, steak or schnitzel. I use about 100g (four ounces) per person.
For the dressing:
juice of one large lime (about two tablespoons)
one tablespoon (about 20g) palm sugar (use brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
one tablespoon fish sauce
two tablespoons coconut cream (use the rest for pumpkin soup)
one clove garlic, peeled and crushed
half a teaspoon of ginger, peeled and crushed
splash of Kaitaia Fire chilli sauce, to taste
Warm together the dressing ingredients gently in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the salad ingredients.