Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Japanese Salads

On the day of my move, I had effectively run myself out of food and sold all my dishes, so breakfast was a banana, elevenses was a persimmon, and by one-thirty my house was fairly clean and I was starving. As usual, starvation made me absolutely incapable of deciding what I wanted to eat, so I wandered around the prepared foods section of the supermarket for ages before I finally settled on some thickly-sliced bread and these four salads. What I really wanted was egg salad, which was naturally not available, but anything creamy was a sufficient substitute.
Though traditional Japanese vegetable dishes are pretty plan, usually just boiled in broth or maybe stewed with ground sesame, the introduction of mayonnaise to the home cook's arsenal has spawned an array of east-meets-west side dishes. Potato salad and egg salad, ever popular as sandwich fillings as well as on their own, are the most common, but the macaroni salad at the top left in the first photo is also classic. It includes bits of cabbage, cucumber, carrot, and (of course!) corn. The gobo salad, above and at the bottom left in the first salad, is a creation harkening back to the traditional gobo dish, kinpira, a spicy salad of matchstick burdock (gobo), carrots, and lotus root (renkon). Here, everything you'd expect in kinpira is present, but there's also a creamy sesame dressing holding it all together and nicely contrasting the spiciness.
The macaroni salad came in a more-stylish-than-usual plastic tray designed to look like newsprint. At first glance, I thought it was English, but if you look closely you'll see that in fact the words are nonsense. I wonder who had the job of typing it up!

As for the other salads, the tofu one was unexciting, but the pumpkin one was a terrible disappointment. It had chickeny undertones, even though there was no sign of any meat in the ingredients list. I took a bite or two, but threw the rest away. No reason to mar the memory of my beloved kabocha.

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