If you feel like puttering in the kitchen and experimenting with great combinations of taste and texture, then this is the salad for you. If you want something on the table fast – pass this one over… except for the dressing, that part is fast and fabulous. Otherwise, it’s a labour of love but worth every minutes you spend chopping and stirring on the stove-top. Colorful crunchy veggies and a zesty orange-kissed dressing make this memorable.
Incidentally, instead of the usual hot sauce we all lean to when giving a dish some kick, I’ve used mustard oil in the dressing. Nothing quite compares to it and you either love it or hate it. If you have trouble sourcing culinary grade mustard oil (Indian grocers usually sell it), or if you don’t want to risk trying it, then do feel free to use your favourite hot sauce instead.
Yield: 4 generous servings or 2 massive meal-sized platters
What you need for the salad:
- 1/2 a large or 1 medium daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1/4” thick quarter-moons, 3 cups cut
- 1 large red pepper cut into strips and each strip halved, 2-1/2 cups cut
- 2 large ribs of celery cut on the diagonal, 2 cups cut
- 1 small or medium carrot, peeled and julienned
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1/2 orange, peeled and sliced into 1/2 wedges or pieces (the half you have left over from making the dressing)
- 1 cup cooked adzuki beans, well rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
- salt (see recipe)
What you need for the dressing:
- 1/2 an orange, peeled and chopped (save the other half for the salad)
- 2-1/2 tablespoons mild red (Aka) miso
- 2 tablespoons sweet brown rice vinegar (or brown rice vinegar)
- 2 teaspoons mustard oil (or 2 teaspoons sesame oil + 2 teaspoons of Sriracha or other hot sauce)
- a 1” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
What you do for the dressing:
- Place all ingredients into a magic-bullet type blender (or into a blender). Blend until smooth. Done.
What you do for the salad:
- Heat a non-stick (read cast-iron) pan over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced daikon. Cook, stirring now and then, for 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with a pinch or three of salt and stir to mix. The radish will start releasing a bit of liquid.
- Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Let cook 20-30 minutes, until the daikon radish is tender-crisp and sweet. Set aside in a large bowl to cool. Try not to nibble through it all.
- Next it’s the veggies. I prefer doing them in a wok, but if all you have is your cast-iron pan, that should work too. Regardless, heat the cooking vessel on high heat (yes, high). Make sure you have the fan on maximum or your smoke alarm will tell you to turn the fan on.
- When the pan is smoking hot, add the carrot. Stir constantly. Dry-stir-fry for 45 seconds or so and then add the scallions. Keep stirring. Another 45 seconds. Add the celery. More stirring. Don’t stop. Dry-stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until the celery gets a wee bit brighter. Now add the red pepper. Keep stirring. Lots of stirring. Lots of sizzling. Keep stirring.
- Sprinkle the veggies lightly with salt. Keep stirring. Stir-and-dry-fry until the vegetables are cooked to your degree of desired doneness. Don’t stop stirring when checking for doneness – things burn to a crisp quickly on high if they stop moving!
- When done, transfer the veggies to the large bowl. Turn off the heat.
- Add the adzuki beans, peanuts and orange wedges to the party (in the bowl).
- Pour the dressing over it all and use a large slotted spoon to combine the dressing and ingredients evenly throughout each other.
- add a healthy amount of chopped fresh cilantro, Thai basil, mint or all three to the salad before tossing
- add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the dressing before blending
- serve over rice noodles or soba for a complete meal