When it comes to salads, I’m not a very adventurous cook. I usually just chop some romaine lettuce and any other greens I have lying around in the fridge. Drop a little extra virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, and a pinch of salt, and the salad is ready to go. I have to admit, it’s really boring. I’m bored making it, I’m bored while eating it, and I get bored thinking about it. It’s funny though, because when I’m at a restaurant I always forego the standard Caesar salad and go with something interesting and different, but in my own kitchen I don’t even make the effort to shave some parmesan cheese to fake a Caesar salad.
However, things are about to change. Salads are no longer going to be the yawn factor of my table! I pick this one to kick start my salad adventures because of the somewhat odd ingredient list: yacón, asian pears, kohlrabi, persimmons, soybean sprouts, and mustard. The weight of the salad comes from, generally, sweet fruits and vegetables, while the sauce is a spicy mustard base. Yacón and kohlrabi are probably the most unusual out of all the components. Yacón is a root vegetable originally from Latin America. It looks a little bit like a elongated yam and when peeled is white with shades of purple. Yacón is surprisingly sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Kohlrabi is related to the cabbage and is also similar a turnip. It’s slightly sweet and very crunchy. All in all, the salad sounded very refreshing and light for a fall salad, and it turned out to be exactly so. It was sweet, savory, and very crisp. I felt like I had been transported to the middle of summer.
I can see this salad could work in a Thanksgiving meal because of it contrasting characteristics, but I can also see it clashing. I wouldn’t mind something bright and refreshing against the heavier, buttery dishes.
Matchstick Sweet and Savory Salad
1 package soybean sprouts
1 large Asian pear
2 medium sized yacón root
1/2 medium kohlrabi
1 large dangam/fuju persimmon
Mustard powder, enough to make 1 tsp mustard
4 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
Wash all fruits and vegetables. Pick the head and tail off of all the soybean sprouts. Cook the sprouts by placing in boiling water in a second and removing to an ice water bath. Julienne the asian pear, yacón root, kohlrabi, and persimmon. Set aside about 1/8th of the julienned pears aside. Fill a large bowl with water and 1 tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Put all the julienned/matchstick ingredients, except the 1/8th julienned pears, into the water. The sugar and salt will bring the sweet flavors out of the fruits and vegetables and prevent discoloration.
Meanwhile, make the mustard sauce by combining the mustard powder and some water together. Follow the instructions of the label. Mix 1 teaspoon mustard paste, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, and the julienned pears that were set aside into a blender, and blend together. Drain the matchstick ingredients. When ready to eat, mix the sauce and matchstick ingredients together. Serve immediately.