There are days when I just have salad for lunch and I call those days “Salad Days”.
During my ‘Salad Days’, I often prepare a mixture of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumber, slice red bell pepper, sliced onion and top it with the dressing. Sometimes I add slices of smoked turkey or barbequed chicken breast or fetah cheese to make it more filling. For the dressing, I used a combination of extra virgin olive oil and lime juice.
Why Salad Days?
Sometimes I simply cannot avoid week-end parties, gourmet meals, or celebratory dinners which can easily get a little (or a lot) more decadent than I expected.
Well, let’s face it. Everyone blows his or her calorie budget every now and then. Even WebMD advised us to give ourselves permission to do this, but as soon as it’s over, we should go back to the eating plan we normally follow. We overeat for one or two days; let’s get back on track again.
And that’s exactly why I have “Salad Days” – when I exceed my calorie budget during week-end, I try to compensate it with “Salad Days”.
Salad Days and Shakepeares
I just found out that “Salad days” is an idiomatic expression, referring to a youthful time, accompanied by the inexperience, enthusiasm, idealism, innocence, or indiscretion that one associates with a young person. The phrase was coined in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in 1606. In the speech at the end of Act One in which Cleopatra is regretting her youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar she says:
“…My salad days….when I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”
The metaphor comes from Cleopatra’s use of the word ‘green’ — presumably meaning someone youthful, inexperienced, or immature.
Since this post has nothing to do with the days of my youth, let’s go back to my “Salad Days” literally.
My Salad Recipes
I usually have 2-3 “Salad Days” in the beginning of the week after an ‘over indulgence’ weekend.
Here I post two salad recipes: one vegie salad and one fruit salad which I often prepare during my “Salad Days”:
My Favorite Mixed Vegie Salad
In this mixed salad, my favorite vegie is Arugula or rocket or rocquette and this is one of the most popular new ‘greens’. The interesting flavor of Arugula will add spunk to any boring salad.
- 100 gram Arugula garden rocket
- 1 big red tomatoes, deseeded and thickly sliced, length-wise
- 50 grams cooked sweet corn kernels
- 100 grams lettuce, coarsely chopped
- 100 grams cucumber, thinly sliced
- 50 grams grated Fetah Cheese for topping
The Salad Dressing:
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 3 lemons, cut into half, squeezed to get the juice
- Pour the lemon juice into the olive oil
- Stir well to combine
- Add salt and pepper
Drizzle the dressing on the vegie salad then add the fetah cheese
My Version of Vietnamese Dried Fish Mango Salad
The first time I tried Vietnamese Dried Fish Mango Salad was last January during I was in Saigon when my dear friend Tam took me to a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. One of the menu was Dried Fish Mango salad. I really loved it (please see my previous post 3 Days in Saigon).
Last March 6th, a friend of Tam visited Jakarta and she brought me the dried fish (the name of the fish is Nandidae).
A few weeks later, Tam sent me the recipe of Vietnamese Dried Fish Mango Salad and I tried to make it. Here is my version of Vietnamese Dried Fish Mango Salad:
Prepare the fish:
150 grams dried fish. Soak fish in water about 30-60 min to soften and reduce saltiness. Remove from water and let it dry.
According to Tam’s recipe, there are two ways to process the fish:
- Grill the fish on charcoal grill or oven, until you can smell it or see it cooked through (by tearing it). Do not grill it too long because it will turn too hard. Remove bones, tear the fish meat into smaller pieces
- Deep fry the fish in oil. Let it cool and drain the oil, then tear the fish into small pieces.
I chose to deep fry it.
- Mix the torn fish with 2 -3 teaspoons sugar, 1/3 teaspoon pepper, then leave it there for 20-30 minutes
Prepare the mango:
- Select fresh unripened green mango, hard and sour
- 500 grams of mango
- 150 grams dried fish
- 1 onion
- Basil leaves
- 50 gram peanut
- 1/4 cup of fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar or as liked
- garlic and chilies, crushed
How to make:
- Peel the mango
- then slice the meat of the mango thinly lengthwise or using a special slicer
and the sliced mango will look like this:
- Chop basil or fragrant knotwed (note: I chose basil).
- Thinly slice the onion then fry in oil until fragrant, drained
- Roast the peanut, remove the skin and crushed
- Put sugar into a bowl, then pour the fish sauce slowly into the sugar until the fish sauce cover the sugar.
- No need to stir the sugar and fish sauce
- Pour the fish sauce into the mango, mix well, leave it for about 20 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the dried fish, the onion, roasted peanut and basil onto the mango. Also crushed garlic and red chilli if liked
The Indonesian Style of Salad
In my country we also have our own style of salads both vegetable and fruit salads. Here is one example of the most famous Indonesian salad:
Gado-gado is an Indonesian dish comprising a vegetable salad served with peanut sauce dressing. It is widely served in hawkers carts, stalls (warung) as well as in restaurants both in and outside Indonesia.
I love Gado-Gado very much, but unfortunately it is not the kind of salad for my “Salad Days’ since the calorie content is quite high.
- blanched – shredded, chopped, or sliced green vegetables (such as cabbage, water spinach), bean sprouts, young boiled jack fruit, string bean, bitter melon, and corn (outside of Indonesia, people improvise with whatever vegetables that are available).
- uncooked – sliced cucumber.
- fried tofu and tempeh.
- sliced boiled potatoes.
- peeled and sliced boiled eggs.
Peanut Sauce Dressing
What distinguishes gado-gado from a plain vegetable salad is the peanut sauce dressing, which is poured on top of the vegetable salad before serving.
The composition of this peanut sauce varies as well. One may use a commercial ready-made peanut sauce or make the sauce oneself. For making the sauce, the common primary ingredients are as follows:
- ground fried peanuts
- palm sugar (can be substituted by brown sugar)
- chilies (according to taste)
- terasi (dried shrimp paste)
- tamarind water
- water to dilute