Asian-Style Root Veggie Salad

27Sep09

I learned to appreciate root veggies only after my mother, who had moved back to the US after 30 years in Japan, spoke longingly of Japanese root vegetables. Fall makes me crave root veggies, and this is what I happen to have on hand today:

Three Satsuma Sweet Potatoes
Several Burdock (gobo) roots
1/2 Daikon radish
Lotus Root (renkon) segment about 2 inches thick
One Carrot

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After a little bit of daydreaming, I came up with two recipes, a root veggie salad and a sweet potato dessert. I started with the root veggie salad (I’ll post the sweet potato recipe in a separate blog).

Ingredients:

Burdock (gobo), one scrubbed segment about ten inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter.
Daikon radish, one peeled segment about three inches long
Lotus Root (renkon), one peeled segment about two inches thick
Carrot, 1/4 of an average-sized one, peeled

for dressing:

Dried Hijiki seaweed, 1 to 2 Tablespoons
Bottled soba noodle or tempura dipping sauce, 2 Tablespoons
Mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons
Japanese mustard paste (karashi), 1 teaspoon

First, cut all the vegetables into appropriately-sized slices. The outside of the burdock should be scrubbed clean, but NOT peeled. The nutrients and fragrance are mostly contained in the peel. The burdock segment should be split in half lengthwise, then placing the flat side down on the cutting board for stability, slice across the grain at a diagonal to make thin slices. Place the slices in a bowl of cold water with a bit of vinegar to keep them from becoming discolored.

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Cut the lotus root segment in half, placing the flat side down on the cutting board for stability. Slice into thin half-circle slices, and then cut the slices in half to make quarter-circle slices. Place these slices in the cold vinegared water with the burdock.

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Cut the segment of carrot in half, placing the cut side down on the cutting board for stability, and slice into slightly thickish matchsticks. Set aside.

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Cut the segment of Daikon in half, placing the cut side down on the cutting board for stability, and slice into matchsticks. Set aside.

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Bring some salted water to boil in a pot. Drain the burdock and lotus root. Put them in the boiling water. After two minutes, add the carrots to the pot. After boiling for one more minute, drain the vegetables and dunk them into ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Drain the veggies well and put them into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the daikon to the rest of the veggies.

Make the sauce. Put the dried Hijiki seaweed into a sieve and briefly rinse under running water. Drain the Hijiki and place in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over it, enough to cover and then some.

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Meanwhile, put the rest of the sauce ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Drain the Hijiki and add it to the sauce, stirring well.

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Pour the sauce over the veggies in the larger bowl. Toss the sauce and veggies together until the veggies are well coated. Transfer salad to a serving dish.

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Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator till ready to serve. As it sits in the fridge, the daikon matchsticks will get soft and pliant. They will also release water, which will thin the sauce a bit, so don’t worry if the sauce seems strong when you first make it. The Japanese mustard gives it a nice bite.

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