KITCHEN CURATIONS: ASIAN KELP SALAD
If you haven’t heard of kelp before, you probably aren’t alone. I discovered kelp a few years ago when I was helping myself to those little samples they always have out at Juice Press. (They say to stick to just 1 sample per person…I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Whatever, rules are made to be broken.) Anyway, back to the point – so I tried their Kelp Me! salad and I kind of just fell in love. I may have even gone weak at the knees. Who knows, it’s all a blur at this point.
I don’t know whether it’s the texture of the noodles or the fact that their nutrition profile is almost too good to be true (Just 6 calories for 4 ounces – yes please! Full of fiber, antioxidants, and minerals – um, sure!) Either way, I was sold.
I proceeded to go back to Juice Press almost every day for the next two weeks to get my kelp fix, but I wasn’t fully satisfied. I thought their sauce to noodle ratio was off and I started to get bored of the same flavor over and over. So, I took matters into my own hands, got in the kitchen, and started experimenting. Needless to say, there were multiple fails. Lucky for you I tried them first so you never have to! This particular recipe is one of my personal favorites, so have at it…
What you’ll need: pot, food processor, mixing bowl, serving bowl, fork or spoon. Total ingredient count: 10.
- 2 Tbsp all natural almond butter
- ½ Tbsp ume plum vinegar
- ½ tsp honey
- ½ cup kelp noodles (I used Sea Tangle noodles)
- ¼ cup shredded carrots
- 3 Tbsp crunchy sprouts (I used Sproutman from Whole Foods)
- 1 scallion sliced on bias, whites only
- 1 cup baby spinach
- ½ cup largely diced/cubed tofu, extra firm
- 3-4 cashews (for garnish)
- 1 tsp scallion, sliced on bias (for garnish)
- Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor. Once combined, place in a mixing bowl.
- Fill pot with water and bring to simmer. Rinse kelp noodles and put into simmering water for 15 minutes.
- When the noodles are done, pull them out with a fork or spoon and place noodles in the bowl with the dressing. Mix until noodles are fully coated.
- Add shredded carrots, crunchy sprouts, and scallions to the kelp and mix until all ingredients are combined and equally coated in dressing.
- Line the bottom of the serving bowl with spinach.
- Add the kelp noodle mixture to spinach.
- Lightly coat tofu in the residual dressing left in the bottom of the mixing bowl. Then add tofu to the salad.
- Garnish with cashews and scallion slices.
A FEW NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE:
- Kelp noodles come in what looks like a huge nest. I recommend ripping the noodles apart, or cutting them with kitchen shears (aka, scissors) as you place them in your pot so that they are easier to work with and easier to eat.
- On every kelp package I have seen, it says that all you need to do is rinse the noodles. And I quote, “No cooking necessary!” So I’m thinking, “Awesome!” But in my experience, that has definitely not been the case. The first time I made kelp I listened to the package instructions and it was a total fail. (Yes, this is one of the many "fails" I was referring to above.) So ever since, I have simmered my kelp, despite what the packaging says.
- If you can’t find crunchy sprouts, no big deal! Just leave them out, or substitute them with another crunchy component. In fact, as I write this, I realize that sugar snap peas would be a nice addition, so maybe try that! I might even do that next time around.
- Don’t taste the dressing before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients! Note: this is probably one of the only times I will advise you not to taste as you go. It’s like breaking the cardinal rule of cooking. Chefs and cooks are all about their tasting spoons. After all, cooking is just a form of experimentation in labs that we call kitchens. But the thing is, this dressing tastes so bad when it’s alone, but once you introduce the kelp something changes. I don't know what and I can’t explain it. It's some sort of kelp miracle. You’ll just have to try it and see for yourself!
- You will also find that the dressing isn’t viscous at all, and you’ll probably be wondering how the hell it’s going to “dress” your salad. Have faith! Once you add the warm kelp noodles, the heat and the residual water on the kelp will loosen the dressing mixture and it will suddenly become thinner and easier to work with. I promise – scout’s honor.
- Okay, less talking, more cooking.