Do you like knife work? Or do you want to get better at slicing and dicing? This is a great recipe to practice knife skills and end up with a delicious, refreshing salad as a reward. I came up with this Asian-flavored side dish to accompany a main dish recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty called Black Pepper Tofu.
I’m not perfect and there are mistakes in my own cookbooks, so I’m not bashing Yotam, but I am here to tell you that his recipe for Black Pepper Tofu is way, way off on the ingredients. So if you have that book and plan on cooking that recipe, you can start by cutting most of the ingredients in half. It calls for 12 ounces, TWELVE OUNCES! of shallots, 11 tablespoons of butter, five, FIVE! tablespoons of cracked black peppercorns.
That’s insane because it serves four. And don’t get me started on the 3 kinds of soy sauce that barely add up to 1/3 a cup. But there’s no stock or water to mellow out the saltiness — or create a sauce. Of course, you do serve it with white rice, but you need a whole lotta rice to counterbalance the salt lick.
But I digress… and in all fairness, I must admit the flavor of that Black Pepper Tofu (once I adjusted the out-of-whack ingredients and tamed the salt) was utterly fantastic. And I will make it again, so really, that is the hallmark of a good recipe, right?
I think this is a great recipe and you don’t need to adjust the ingredient amounts, except to double if you want to serve more than four. Next time I might add some scallions, though, to add an onion element.
It’s extremely simple to make and it gives you a shot at honing your knife skills. You should be able to make it in the time it takes to cook a pot of rice.
I’ve included the pictures above so you know what I’m talking about when I say cut on an angle for the cucumber and the celery. And I get you started on how to cut the green apple. I cut several slices off the apple and then I stack them to cut into strips but in the picture above I just made one cut to show you how to start.
About the tahini. Don’t you hate it when a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of something, and you had to buy a whole jar of it? Sorry, I did that that. But I also made some hummus, and then I made a tahini/soy marinated for ribs. So really, I ended up using more than half of the jar within a week. And it will keep for months in the fridge.
Enough chatter… here’s the recipe for my Asian flavored cucumber slaw. Hope you like it.
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 medium clove of garlic, minced (~ ½ teaspoon)
- 2 tablespoons tahini paste
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Pinch salt
- Pinch red chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 English (hot house) cucumber (~ 12-13 ounces)
- 4 interior trimmed celery stalks (~ 4 ounces)
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
- Whisk the first 8 dressing ingredients (lime juice through chile flakes) together in a small bowl until honey dissolves. Whisk in sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside while you make the slaw.
- Peel cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out and discard seeds. Slice, at an angle, into ¼-inch slices. Place in a large bowl.
- Slice, at an angle, the celery stalks into ¼-inch slices. Place in the bowl with the cucumber.
- Cut the apple into ¼-inch slices, working from the outside in, on all four sides. Discard the core. Stack the slices and slice into ¼-inch matchsticks. Place in the bowl with the cucumber.
- In a small bowl, toss the sesame seeds with the chile flakes.
- Toss the slaw with the cilantro and about half of the sesame seed mixture (reserve remaining half to sprinkle on top).
- Toss the slaw with as much dressing as you like (you may have a couple tablespoons left over, which you can drizzle on top if you like.) Taste and add more salt if desired. Garnish with reserved sesame seeds/chile flakes.