This is truly is an amazing salad, and I do recommend it. It is from Kylie Kwong’s book, Recipes and Stories.
Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series. You might also like our Asian recipes here and here. Or you might like to browse Capsicum recipes here and here. Check out our easy Summer recipes here and here.
It is an interesting reflection that around the time that Kylie published this book in 2002 or 2003 ,the issue of copyright, piracy and the internet, wrt food and recipes, was just becoming an issue. There wasn’t much option for redress, and it really was a concern for authors and publishers. At the same time, Jamie Oliver had the complete soft copy of his latest cookbook emailed around the world, and people forwarded it on and on and on until most people I knew had received a copy of it. (One of the first examples of a viral email, no doubt, although the term was not yet coined.) And Kylie was just venturing into her publishing career too; now she is a household name. What a journey we have all been on in the intervening years.
Eventually I gave her cookbook away via twitter (it is a good cookbook, just too non -vegetarian for my lifestyle) to a twitter friend in Victoria who became a Kylie Kwong devotee just from that little gesture. I heard much later how much she loves this book and how it changed her approach to cooking Asian food.
This is from Kylie Kwong‘s fabulous book, Recipes and Stories. I love her approach to food – something that I got used to in France when I was working there – every dish, every ingredient, every meal has a story. I haven’t had the pleasure of eating at Billy Kwong’s in Surrey Hills but hear it is great. Used to be a collaboration between Kylie and Bill Granger, but Bill is now concentrating on his own style of cooking, and Kylie is going from strength to strength I hear.
Five Spice Pressed Tofu is tofu that has been pressed then simmered in soy sauce, five spice powder and sugar to give it a rich flavour and a smooth resilient texture. It is great – I am a huge convert to this tofu (thanks Kylie). Seek it out and use it in all sorts of ways. You can find it in the refrigerator section of Asian supermarkets – some have it but others don’t. If you can’t find it at first, hunt around. You can make an inferior but OK approximation. If you have time to press some firm tofu under a weight to remove much of its liquid content, do so. (I have made this without that step.) Then slowly simmer it for about 5 minutes in a mixture of soy, star anise and sugar . Leave to cool in the liquid. Alternatively, use normal tofu, even the silken kind, and add a pinch or two of five spice powder to the salad. Different, but it will work.
All Asian ingredients are available in Chinese/Asian/Thai stores. I had some trouble in Sydney getting the Thai basil and Vietnamese mint, but found them in a Thai grocery.
A perfect pre-dinner salad! Really, just a perfect salad.
|0.5 Lebanese cucumber cut in half lengthwise||1 tspn sea salt||0.33 cup carrot julienne|
|0.25 cup white sugar||1 cup white vinegar||80 g five spice pressed tofu, finely sliced|
|0.33 cup fresh black cloud ear fungus (or reconstituted dried cloud ear)||0.33 green shallot, julienne||0.25 cup coriander leaves|
|0.25 cup sweet Thai basil leaves||0.25 cup mint leaves||4 Vietnamese mint leaves|
|0.25 cup finely sliced Chinese white cabbage||2 tspns roasted sesame seeds||pinch Szechuan pepper and salted, roasted|
|dressing||1 Tblspn light soy sauce||0.25 tspn sesame oil|
|1 Tblspn black vinegar||0.25 tspn chilli oil|
Beforehand: Slice cucumber halves finely with a sharp knife, or on a mandolin, flat side down, into 2mm thick ribbons. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with half the sea salt. Combine well using your hands and set aside for 1 hour. Repeat this process with a separate bowl and the carrot and remaining salt.
Combine sugar and vinegar in a small pot. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer, without stirring for about 10 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, squeeze excess liquid from salted carrot and cucumber. Place vegetables in the cooled syrup for at least 30 minutes to lightly “pickle” them.
At the time: In a large bowl, combine strained pickled vegetables with all remaining ingredients except sesame seeds and Szechuan pepper and salt. Mix thoroughly using your hands.
To make the dressing, stir ingredients together in a small bowl. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Serve salad on a platter, garnished with sesame seeds and Sichuan pepper and salt.