Warm lunchtime bento
The teriyaki clamours
The iceberg salad assumes nothing
You know the salad. It’s shunted into the top right hand corner of your lunch special bento box like an afterthought. When you take a bite, though, of the crisp iceberg with three flickers of red cabbage, a shard of carrot and a crenellated tomato slice you wish you’d tried it sooner, wish you’d saved a little room. You regret being seduced so abruptly by the steaming glutinous charms of teriyaki salmon and the six miserly slices of maki that they should really call Kalifornia roll because it’s made of crab with a K. The salad itself is of course a touch pathetic but the dressing is creamy with a little sweetness that’s comforting but made unmistakably alive with a big hit of ginger.
I resolved to make a whole lunch of an Unassuming Salad With Gentle Ginger Dressing. I did start with iceberg lettuce, as a matter of fact. I consider it the Carr’s Table Water of the greens world. Like a skillful butler, it deftly supports the most pungent ingredients but wouldn’t dream of insinuating itself beyond the supporting role of texture. Next, I added a few leaves of baby winter greens for colour contrast and nutrition. I sharpened my Santuko ( if I was feeling really federal I would have dragged out my mandolin) to create transparent slices of cucumber and sulfurous red onion. I scattered chopped green onions like plum blossom petals at the base of Mount Fuji and finally and with great tenderness laid on unctuous slices of avocado. It’s not common to consider salad a comfort food, but this sort of is actually. It tastes very clean but is a bit warming because of the ginger and miso. I highly recommend eating it with bamboo chopsticks. What do you think are the most underrated aspects of Japanese cuisine? I’d love to read your comments, preferably expressed in haiku.
Gentle Ginger Dressing
Yield: about 1 1/4 cup
1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoon chopped ginger If you don’t own a high-powered blender you may want to grate the ginger.
2 tablespoons light miso
1 teaspoon honey
Directions: Whir all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Steam rises from green tea
The dog stirs and sighs
I lay down my chopsticks