20 October 2007

Ramen Remix #3: “Asian” Ramen Salad

In the past year, the majority of my high school friends have crossed over to the dark side: vegetarianism. There were always one or two in our group, but college dining halls have an uncanny ability to foist dietary changes on students, whether from the quality of the food or the variety (and freedom) of choices. As an omnivore, entertaining for vegetarians is a daunting task (for vegans a voyage into the unfamiliar waters on the edge of a map labeled: here be monsters). Luckily, I happen to be a pretty peaceable omnivore and my vegetarian/vegan friends could not be more wonderfully accommodating.

I like to host parties. Unsurprisingly, my favorite center on food. Tea parties, barbeques, bacchanalian orgies… When I realized that at least seven of my oldest friends now abstain from animal products, I panicked. And when I panic, I buy a book. The book I found was The Salad Scoffer by Ronny, an import from the British Isles focusing on party food. I already had vegetarian recipes in my other cookbooks; this one drew me on its concept: "It's time to smash the stereotype!" That stereotype being the sad, iceberg lettuce/tomato/shredded carrot salad which is the typical response on the part of my (unimaginative to the nth degree) omnivorous counterparts to vegetarian/vegan dinner guests. A salad need not be boring.

The following recipe is not from The Salad Scoffer but I'd like to think that Ronny would approve. I didn't even attempt to make this vegan – even after a months of breathing space, I don't think I could eliminate every lurking element of animal extortion out of my cooking without being spoon fed instructions from a real life vegan. I did use chicken (gasp) but the salad tastes just as good with tofu, and has enough bite to it that you could even do without either, in a pinch. It also includes this week's theme ingredient (ramen, in case you hadn't guessed) remixed as a crispy chow mein noodle for the classic "Asian" salad topper, as well as a practically painless salad dressing that you can make to go with everything. Painless in relation to the crispy ramen, which resulted in a sickening, blackened mess on the first try.

But don't worry, I was frying in butter, and accidentally let it go for about three minutes. My final crispy ramen noodles came out perfectly, and I have included the method to achieve the edible second version in the final directions below.

"Asian" Ramen Salad

[Serves 4]

Foraged from the dining hall:

2 cups mandarin oranges

4 cups (or one take-out box-full) spring lettuce mix

2 cups cooked chicken or: 2 cups tofu (you're on your own for cooking this)

1 cup Craisins

Bought at the store:

1 package ramen noodles

3 stalks green onion

sesame seeds

1 cup sliced almonds

  1. Crunch up the ramen noodles into inch-long pieces, mix with almond slices and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Marinate with: 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, and 3 Tablespoons peanut oil.
  2. Crisp on the burner for 1 minute only. Promptly remove from heat and set aside.
  3. For each serving: Toss spring lettuce mix with some of the ramen-sesame-almond mix and 1-2 Tablespoons dressing. Top with other ingredients (cooked chicken pieces, sliced green onion, Craisins, and mandarin oranges).
  4. Scatter on more ramen-sesame-almond mix and drizzle dressing over everything.

For the Dressing:

4 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon grated ginger (you'll need a piece about the size of a quarter)

sesame seeds

  1. Add all ingredients together in an empty jam jar. Stir. Secure lid and shake (for consistency) before each use.



Aubrey said...

I have a request--apple week. Over Fall Break Alexis and I went apple picking, and I was having so much fun climbing trees that I didn't realize how very many apples we had picked. We ended up picking just over half a bushel. Alexis flew them here in her carry on. And now, well, we have nearly half a bushel of apples that are starting to rot. What can we do with them with a toaster oven and microwave?

P.S.- That is a very pretty salad.

Emma said...

This is one I haven't sampled... and it looks yummah!

Anonymous said...

We tried your recipe, and our family loved it! We added snap peas, red tomato, yellow tomato, and sweet red pepper to the bed of mixed greens. Finally we topped the whole thing off with the toasted ramen noodles and some wonderful leftover pork tenderloin that had been prepared with a fruit/onion glaze. It was lovely! Thanks for the idea!