Category Archives: Salad

Moving away from home and an Asian Pickle Salad

So it has been a crazy few months since I last updated this blog. I left my job in Dublin, I moved to London and I have started working in an incredible Barbecue focused place here. This experience has been something that I was not nearly as ready for as I thought I was.

Moving away from your home, your family, your friends, your pets, the streets you walk every day, the coffee shops you frequent, the bars you imbibe in, the busses and trains you ride, it is a scary thing to do. You are left, as if suspended in mid-air, with not just the rug pulled out from under you, but the floorboards torn up and the entire building seemingly razed to the ground beneath your feet.

The first couple of weeks were probably the strangest, not necessarily the hardest but definitely odd. I had rented a room for the two weeks after I arrived as a way to get to know the area and have a place to search for more long term arrangements from. I ended up staying there three weeks because, as I probably don’t need to tell you, the housing market in London is bat-shit-cray.

Several times I would be on the way to meet with an estate agent only to get a curt message saying the apartment was already let, or they didn’t accept references from “overseas.” “It’s Ireland mate, it’s like a twenty minute walk from here.” That in combination with the rent prices I was looking at was a pretty daunting thing to overcome. But in the end, I found a nice little place in the East End and moved in.

The strangest feeling was that when I was leaving the first place I stayed, my mind seemed to think I had been on holiday or something. Like now that I had been away for a few weeks and was packing up my stuff I was going back to Dublin to see my life again. But to then find myself in another new apartment and new area was really tough.

The first day I had off from work after moving in, I did the only thing I know how to do when I don’t know what to do, I made a home cooked meal.

1 Red Chilli
1 Lime
2 Spring Onions
1 Bunch of Coriander
1 Tbsp Mirin
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Rice Wine Vinegar (White Wine Vinegar will do or any white vinegar in a pinch)
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-First off you want to make up the pickle dressing for the salad. In a bowl, mix together the Mirin, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar and the Juice of the lime.
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-Mix it well and then taste it. It should be a little sharp from the vinegar but if it is offensively strong, tone it down by adding in a little sugar and a little more Mirin.
-Next, half and deseed your chilli.
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-As finely as you can, slice up each of the halves. I like to do it length-ways (purely for aesthetic reasons) but you can do it whatever way you like. Just make sure the pieces are quite fine so the pickle easily.
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-Add the chilli into the pickle dressing.
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-Peel the spring onions of any nasty outer leaves and chop them into manageable pieces.
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-Slice them in half, length-ways and then slice them again as finely as you can. The thinner they are the better they will pickle and the better they will look on the plate.
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-Add these into the dressing aswel.
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-Pick the leaves, gently so as not to bruise them, of the coriander from the stalks.
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-Chop the stalks into similarly sized pieces to the spring onion and chilli and add them into the dress with everything else.
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-The salad can stay like this for a few days and then as soon as you are ready to serve, add in the coriander leaves.
-Pluck the salad out of the dressing and allow it to drain for a moment on a piece of kitchen paper. Then it’s ready to be placed atop anything you fancy.
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My own Salted Lemon Couscous

A good few months ago I did up two big jars of Moroccan Salted Lemons as a bit of an experiment and finally they are ready! Imagine the scene when Doctor Frankenstein wakes his monster for the first time. It was nothing like that.
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The first thing that I noticed when I opened the jar was the smell. It smelled not like any lemon I had ever experienced before. It was more like stewed fruit. Sweet and fragrant but with a warm spicy twang. The cinnamon and bay had clearly done their work.
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Taking them out they had turned dark, and almost rusty in colour. The preserving liquid was now thick. Clearly the sugar and juice from the lemons has been brought out to create a silky syrup. I have always thought that there was something familiar about preserved lemons. Like something that I used to have a child. My sister thought the same but we still couldn’t figure it out. If you ever figure it out, do let me know.
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I aim to do a fair few recipes with these bay boys over the next few weeks so keep an eye out. Firstly though, a basic grilled vegetable and preserved Lemon couscous.

300g Couscous
1 Courgette
Half a Red Pepper
1 Red Chilli
Small handful of sultanas
A Quarter of a Preserved Lemon
2 Spring Onions
Small bunch of Coriander
2 Radishes

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-Get a griddle pan onto a high heat and boil the kettle.
-First slice your courgette into 1cm slices. I do them diagonally so they look a bit more interesting.
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-Place the slices of courgette onto the griddle pan and grill off for about two minutes on each side.
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-While they are cooking, place the couscous into a large bowl.
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-Cover over by 1cm with boiling water.
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-Flip the courgettes over. They should be starting to colour nicely.
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-Chop up the radishes, spring onions, sultanas and preserved lemons. Add these all into the bowl with the couscous.
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-Take off the courgettes.
-Half and deseed the red chilli and the pepper.
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-Place the halved chilli and the red pepper onto the griddle pan.
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-Again about two minutes per side is perfect for these.
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-Finely slice coriander leaves.
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-When the chilli and pepper are cooked, remove them a chopping board and then chop them up a bit.
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-Add the courgettes, the chilli, the pepper and the coriander leaves into the large bowl.
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-Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and mix everything together. Taste it and see if it needs more seasoning or lemon. Maybe a little extra chilli if you are feeling adventurous and you are good to go.

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Vietnamese Bánh Mì

Ingredients

When you think of really great street food one of the name that comes to the tip of most tongues is Vietnam. The bustling, ant-colony like streets and lined with carts and stalls selling all manner of hand held delights. One of the most famous and well-tried of these is the Bánh Mì. A remnant of French Colonialism and local herbs and vegetables the Bánh Mì has been a staple in the Vietnamese diet for years. A crusty French baguette filled with pickled daikon radish and carrot, mint, coriander, pork, beef, prawns whatever was available, mayonnaise, pate it is a fragrant smack in the tastebuds. One that we are going to recreate here.

I have made this sandwich a few times before but this has to be my favourite version of it. Incredibly quick to make and so fresh it’ll knock you into next week. The key to this, in my opinion is good bread. Buying a really good quality baguette from a baker or somewhere like Fallon and Byrne will pay dividends when you tear through it to the zingy pickled salad inside. The baguette is where you want to spend a little extra cash, trust me.

For this one I am going to use king prawns I got in the Asian Market on Drury st but any prawns will do, even frozen ones will work. You can also do the exact same thing here with chicken breast of pork fillet. Whatever you have in the fridge really. The salad will also last a fair while so keep it in a jar to liven up another meal. The daikon radish (also called a mooli) can be found in any decent ethnic vegetable store like the Asian Supermarkets or Fallon and Byrne again.

8 tiger prawns or 12 shrimp
2 limes
Half of a daikon radish.
1 bunch of coriander
1 bunch of mint
1 x 12” French Baguette
Mayonnaise

-First off take the heads and shells off your prawns or if you are using frozen ones, defrost them and pat them dry.

Prawns

-Zest the limes and finely chop the stalks of the bunch of coriander. Add these to the prawns with a tablespoon of sunflower oil. Leave them to marinade for as long as possible but they could pretty much be used straight away.

Prawns in the Marinade

-Finely slice the leaves from the coriander and the mint and mix together in a large bowl.

Finely Sliced Herbs
-Using a box grater or a food processor, if you are one of the lucky few, grate both the carrots and the daikon radish.

Grated Root Vegetables
-Add these to the mixing bowl along with a pinch of salt and the juice from both limes. The salt and the acidic juice will pickle the carrot and radish giving you an incredibly zingy kick. Thoroughly mix the salad together and crush it between your hands. This helps the pickling process.

Pickled Salad
-Preheat your oven to 100°c and place your baguette inside. It only needs about 5 minutes

Prawns
-Heat a medium sized frying pan or wok on a medium to high heat. Add the prawns once the pan begins to smoke. They should only take about 2 minutes on each side.

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-When the Prawns are cooked you are good to go. Smear a spoonful of the mayo on each side of the baguette, layer in the salad and top with the prawns.

 

Banh Mi

All that’s left now is to tuck in and imagine yourself floating down the Mekong delta as you sit and watch the world go by. Soundtrack supplied by Robin Williams is an optional extra.

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

I have been making slaw like this for the last few years. It really was a revelation for me when I realised coleslaw was not that horrible mayonnaise-y crap you get from plastic tubs in Tesco. All squishy cabbage and mushy carrots and no flavour.

In contrast a serious, old school pickled slaw is a thing of simplicity and grace. Just a small handful of ingredients and you are flying. The best part? The longer you leave this to sit in the fridge the better it will be. Perfect for that picnic or BBQ.

One Quarter of a head of red cabbage
2 limes
1 small bunch of coriander
Salt
Olive Oil

-Using a very sharp knife or a box grater shred the cabbage head as finely as possible. The finer you get it, the better the end result.
-Place all of the shredded cabbage in a large bowl.
-Zest the limes into the bowl. Roll them slightly to loosen the juice, then juice them in aswel.
-Finely chop the coriander and add it in with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil.
-This is the fun bit, using your hands, scrunch the cabbage together with the dressing. Don’t be gentle with it. You need the lime juice to start pickling the cabbage and making it edible.
-Once you have based and mixed your cabbage around a good bit, leave it aside. The longer you leave it here the better. You can eat it immediately but overnight is preferable.
-Enjoy with grilled or roasted meats or a sandwich or anywhere you would usually have found that crappy white sludge before.

Nutty Noodle Salad

Nutty Noodle Salad

This was one of the first recipes I ever learned off by heart. It’s pretty easy to make, really versatile and my personal favourite quality, not a lettuce leaf in sight. It is seriously good for lunches, dinners, picnics, packed lunches or just to keep in the fridge for when you are feeling peckish.  The quantities here make a decent sized portion, ideal for BBQs and such.

 

150g beansprouts

150g mangetout

1 red pepper

2 spring onions

500g Noodles

20g sesame seeds

100g bag of mixed nuts

Bunch of fresh coriander

Parmesan Cheese

 

For the dressing

2tbs Sesame Oil

1tbs Soy Sauce

1tbs Sweet Chilli Sauce

Juice of two limes

100g crunchy peanut butter
-First put your noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave them to sit while you get on with the rest of your salad.
-Core and finely slice (nothing too fancy) the red pepper and chop in the spring onion and mangetout. Mix all these together with the beansprouts in a big serving bowl.
-In a pestle and mortal, bash up the mixed nuts and sesame seeds and add them to the bowl.
-In a jug or something like that whisk up all the ingredients for the dressing and add that to the bowl along with the strained noodles.
-Give the whole thing a good mix to make sure everything is covered in the dressing. Chop up the coriander leaves and sprinkle on top with some grated parmesan, then serve and enjoy.

Top 5 Best Salads for Picnics

BBQ’s and Picnics can be a dodgy endeavour. Without proper planning you can see an awesome day at the beach turn seriously sour at the drop of a hat. Your BBQ isn’t working properly, you forgot to bring all the ingredients for your salad, Jake never packed his suncream and is getting burt (despite the clouds) or maybe you just aren’t getting along with your Aunt.

Whatever the reason, one way to seriously lighten your load is to have 90% of your food done the night before. Having all of that complicated nonsense out of the way will allow you to totally focus on the more important things, like how annoying your Aunt is being.

To help you with that, here are my Top Five Night-Before Salads for every Al-Fresco Adventure.

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Couscous Salad

Couscous Salad

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

Nutty Noodle Salad

Nutty Noodle Salad

Easy and Spicy Chicken Salad

Spicy Chicken Salad

 

Quick and Creamy Potato Salad

Potato Salad

 

               As a kid I used to always look forward to going shopping with my Mom or Dad on a Saturday morning to get the weekly shop in from Dunnes or Superquinn. Me and my sister would run around the shop trying to trick our parents into buying us treats. One of these was the salad bar. There was always some exciting new thing there that I always wanted to try and sure as the sun will rise, Mammy would never allow it. “It’s too expensive!” “It’s a waste of money!” etc. And one I usually remember being there was the trusty potato salad.

           This is a fairly basic version but I think it is all the more delicious for it. Make sure you get the bacon seriously crispy and crunchy as that will send your senses into overdrive while you eat it.

1 bag of baby potatoes

Small bunch of chives

6 strips of smoked streaky bacon

4 tbs of olive oil

1 tbs greek yoghurt

Salt and Pepper

-Take the potatoes out of the bag, give them a bit of a wash, then chop them up so they are all roughly the same size.

-Get a big pot of water on to boil. When it is boiling add a pinch of salt and put the potatoes in.

-They should take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook fully.

-While they are boiling, get a frying pan on a high heat. This is for the bacon.

-Slice up the bacon fairly thin and add it to the really fucking hot pan with a little olive oil.

-When they are nice and crispy (almost burnt), turn them out onto a few pieces of kitchen paper to get rid of any excess oil and grease.

-Get out an old jam jar, in it add the olive oil, yoghurt and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put the lid on the jar and give it a really strong shake.

-The only thing left to do is dice up the chives to whatever size you prepare.

-When the potatoes are done, strain them and pop them in a big serving dish.

-Pour over the salad dressing and bacon bits.

-Garnish with the chives and serve with whatever you see fit.

Enjoy,