Monday, November 16, 2009

Shaved Carrot Salad, Sambal Dressing

Extremely simple, equally delicious. Make it with local, after-the-frost organic carrots. If you don't have frost where you live, well, I'm sorry for you. (I'm sorry for you now; you be sorry for me come January....) We've had it twice in three nights. It's going to have a regular spot in the winter salad rotation, I think. The addition of tangy, hot sambal oelek chili paste distinguishes it from the typical carrot slaw.

We went West with it the first time, serving it along with a plate of cheeses and patés with fresh bread for an easy baking-night dinner. We went East in the Sunday night meal pictured--potstickers (guo tie) and boiled dumplings (shui jiao). A Torres Sangre de Toro washed it down nicely the first night; a Martin Codax Albarino stood up remarkably well to the spicy salad and hot-sweet-sour dumpling sauce the second night. The first night I used black pepper, the second night ground, roasted Sichuan pepper (hua jiao).

I'm giving a range for the sweet and hot elements; you take it from there. The sambal gives a really appealing, savory sort of heat. It builds to a mild burn, fades before causing pain--I mean, depending upon how much you use. In the range given here, it will be mildly piquant on the low end, noticeably warm on the other.

Using a vegetable peeler to reduce the carrot to shavings or chips gave an interesting texture to the salad. But if you're lazy you could grate the carrot or slice it thin with a mandoline.

Shaved Carrot Salad with Sambal Dressing
serves 2

1 large organic carrot
1 very small shallot (the size of a very large garlic clove)
2 good pinches salt
1 Tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sambal oelek chili paste
1/2 to 1 tsp honey
ground black or Sichuan pepper

Peel the carrot, then use the vegetable peeler to whittle the carrot away into chips--into a bowl, of course, not onto the porch floor. Slice the shallot as thinly as you can into translucent rings. Toss it all together, and let sit at room temp for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve as a salad in a western meal, or as part of a multi-course Chinese meal (or as veg complement to dumpling dinner!). Zhen hao chi.

Text and photos copyright 2009 by Brett Laidlaw

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