I am only a recent convert to salad. For years I just didn’t bother. I ate it when it was put on my plate by other people but I have never really been interested in cold food (apart from maybe ice cream but if it was a toss up between that and chips, I would have gone for chips every time. Now that I’m salt free, single, dairy free and supposedly sugar free, I will never have to make that decision again). But I do love me some cold thinly sliced cabbage (only the hard kind of cabbage obvs, I would be hurt if someone presented me with cold sliced Savoy cabbage or spring greens) when it has lemon juice or lime on it and few pickled chillis and maybe some garlic and is served next to something deep fried (chicken or fish or in my salty days chips).
Cabbage salad is still a bit delicious without the salt, but it’s not the same (NOTHING IS). Enter carrot.
Traditionally I have not been a fan of carrot salad, I think mainly because it is often served with raisins and I like to keep my sweets separate from my savouries. That isn’t actually strictly true: I am perfectly happy to eat a sweetish vegetable like plantain providing I can sprinkle it with plenty of salt; I will enjoy jerk seasoning that has sugar in it, and I’m definitely not averse to adding rum to savoury things, but I have never seen the point in taking something naturally a bit sweet (like a carrot), adding something else very sweet to it (like a raisin) and then serving it alongside a main course and not calling it dessert. I think if you want to eat carrots and raisins together then go the whole hog and make a carrot cake and don’t expect me to eat any.
Also I don’t like grated carrot unless it’s my dallow fried (my personal blend of deep and shallow fried) personal favourite shame food: carrots, shallots and celery and/or parsley, all finely chopped or grated where possible, dallow fried in a pan with tinned tuna until everything is crispy with lemon juice on top, served on a corn thin (a much more delicious corn version of a rice cake that unfortunately I will not enjoy anymore until they come out with a salt free version and I suspect that I will still not be enjoying it then). More on shame food later.
But yeah I think there is something about grating carrots that brings out the worst in them. They just don’t taste good. Enter the zester. Once upon a time I thought the zester was just for zesting citrus fruits. Then one time I used it to scale a seabass before chopping it into sections, covering it in salt, chilli, lime, garlic, ginger and rice flour batter and deep frying it, sprinkling it with further salt and shoving it in my mouth with No.1 Chilli Sauce smeared over it,
and loving but totally not fully appreciating the role that salt played in my then happy and fulfilled life. Since then, I have been open to using the zester in multiplitious(?) ways, using it to zest cucumber, carrot, courgette, ginger, garlic, etc.
I have been zesting carrot for salad and using one of two marinades. The first one is mint based and is as much finely scizzored mint as you can find (I find if you chop the mint on the chopping board, the chopping board smells great and the mint in your food smells gross. Actually I think I have discovered that minus its essential oils and moisture, the bit that goes on your board when you chop it, mint is fundamentally a stale and musty smelling plant. I’m not cussing it, I think most things minus their most interesting parts are probably a bit stale and musty, but it should be watched out for), plus one part lemon juice to three parts neutral oil and one part lemon zest (I know that’s a lot of zest but it is delicious). I know there are a lot of people out there who use olive oil extremely liberally and would think nothing of using it in every salad dressing they make (Jamie Oliver even has a recipe for chicken korma where he uses olive oil instead of something less disgusting in that context like sunflower oil or peanut oil or coconut oil or MOST OTHER OILS JAMIE WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING. More on gross versions of appropriated foods later) but please don’t do it here: even if you love olive oil really hard, it will detract from the mint and will mostly be a lemon and olive oil dressing, and if you want one of these, you really shouldn’t bother with cutting up the mint. Whisk with a fork until emulsified.
The second dressing is barely even a dressing because it is so super simple. One tablespoon of rice vinegar, one clove of crushed garlic, three tablespoons of sesame oil. Yummy. Sesame oil plus rice vinegar does not make me miss salt, and it is strangely satisfying and savoury without being salty (result). I am thinking of utilising it in a recipe I am trying to concoct for a salt free version of Shoyu Tamago.
Obviously as tamari is a main ingredient here I am going to have to work pretty hard at a salt free version but it (or bad attempts at it) is coming. Watch this space. But don’t watch it too closely, I blog erratically and intermittently and in between blogging I am mostly breaking my salt free diet and getting Meniere’s disease episodes