This is my last full week in London, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure of a few deadlines hovering over my head. Namely, a first draft of the first chapter of my dissertation (!) is due at the end of this week. I haven’t worked on a piece of writing this intensely since I was still taking classes 2.5 years ago, and it’s definitely bringing back memories of those final weeks of the quarter.
To fit the mood of this week, I have a very easy, very quick recipe that is also delicious.
This was inspired by a trip to an Indian grocery store down the street. I go there to buy chilies because they’re always good and always cheap. This time there happened to be a box of daikon sitting next to the chilies, and I guess I had to have it.
I don’t usually cook with daikon so I looked up a few recipes in my copy of The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook (edited by Bauer and Irwin, 1997), which has wonderful ideas for vegetables. A recipe for a salad called “white lightning” with daikon, jicama and turnips in a chili-based sauce caught my eye, but since there’s little chance of finding jicama in London I substituted fennel (it’s sort of sweet) and also added shredded savoy cabbage because the flavor seemed right. The hard-cooked eggs add some substance to the dish and the carrots add color. Finally, the great thing about this salad is that you can keep the base of vegetables but change the dressing to suit your main course- daikon and fennel turn out to embrace several different flavor profiles. I’m suggesting two here.
Ingredients for the salad (as a side for 2 or a main for 1)
1/2 large daikon
1/2 medium-sized fennel bulb
3-4 of the greenest outer leaves of a head of savoy cabbage
2 hard-cooked eggs
Version I: with creamy chili dressing
2 tbs minced cilantro
1 tbs crushed red chilies in vinegar (or slightly less Chinese-style chili-paste)
1 tbs mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Version II: with lemon-mustard dressing
2 tbs minced parsley
1 tbs grain mustard
1 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste
Peel and julienne the carrots and daikon. Shred the cabbage leaves and fennel. Chop up one egg and halve the other, setting the halved egg aside. Add the chopped ingredients to a bowl, add salt to taste and either the cilantro (version I) or parsley (version II) and toss.
Mix whichever dressing you are using in a small bowl.
To serve, toss the salad with the dressing of your choice and then garnish with the reserved halves of the hard-cooked egg.