This refreshing salad is made up of pickled ginger, fried shallots and cabbage. Pickled ginger is the star of this salad, and although you can purchase a jar of pickled ginger I would urge you to pickle your own. In fact, depending on where you live, it may be easier for you to purchase fresh ginger than to find a jar of pickled ginger in your store. I find the flavor of home pickled ginger far superior to purchased, without additives and coloring. And it’s quite easy to make. Give yourself time to make it ahead and let it cure for a few days.
If you can’t locate Napa cabbage, or even Savoy cabbage, I don’t think I would substitute regular green cabbage, it’s not leafy enough. I think I would prefer a substitute of crunchy romaine lettuce if necessary.
And if you’re really averse to frying your own shallots you can always pick up a bag of fried onions, I think even Trader Joe’s has them, but then you won’t have the lovely resulting shallot oil for the salad dressing. In that case you would just use some other kind of oil instead.
I’ve adapted this salad from Naomi Duguid’s book “Burma, Rivers of Flavor.” Her recipe called for 1 cup of ginger to 1 cup of cabbage. I’ve increased the amount of cabbage fourfold, in addition to other small changes.
½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 cup peanuts, roasted, coarsely chopped
¼ cup white sesame seeds, toasted
1 cup pickled ginger, see recipe here, or purchased
1 small tomato, diced, about ½ cup
4 cups sliced Napa cabbage
½ cup fried shallots, see recipe here, or purchased
¼ cup fresh lime juice, (from 1 to 2 limes)
2 tbsp. fish sauce, or 4 tbsp. pounded dried shrimp
1 tbsp. pickled ginger brine
5 tbsp. shallot oil, from the fried shallots
½ tsp. kosher salt, or ¼ tsp. table salt
1 tsp. sugar
Begin by toasting your nuts and seeds, if they aren’t already toasted. Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, usually come raw or roasted. To roast them, simply place in a dry skillet over medium heat, and toast, stirring, until they start to change color and “snap, crackle, and pop!” Remove from heat and cool. Same goes for sesame seeds and peanuts, they’ll take just a minute to toast in a dry pan. Just make sure you toast them all separately.
Remove the ginger from the brine and slice into julienne strips. You can stack the slices and cut through several layers at a time to make this job go quickly.
Add the toasted nuts and seeds, ginger, tomato, cabbage, and ½ cup of the fried shallots to a large salad bowl, toss. Mix the dressing ingredients together and toss with the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the remaining fried shallots.
Notes and Instructions
Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy
Adapted from: “Burma, Rivers of Flavor,” by Naomi Duguid