Sometimes words come easily. They fall together in my head at the most unrelated of moments: while I’m driving, cleaning, shopping. I mutter them under my breath hoping that by spitting them into the air these words won’t disappear. Sometimes though, they do not surface so effortlessly. I have, unfortunately, been in this latter stage for the better part of six months. My brain is dried like a raisin by the end of the day when I have a moment to stop. Instead of powering through, it shuts down. Off. Chau. Nos vemos. It can barely process T.V. much less compose a post.
So, while I have actually been cooking quite a bit, I have been posting approximately not at all. My recent kitchen adventures have included persimmon bread, chocolate cake, ginger muffins, frascatelli, and a whole roasted chicken. Yes, I have cooked all of this and shared none with you. Scandalous, I’m well aware. Equally as scandalous is this: I have fallen in love with the salad section of the new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I’ll admit, when I first cracked open the book, I skipped straight to dessert. Feeling the need for a post Christmas health kick though, I soon decided to turn to the dreaded salad section. Now, let’s be real, the salad section is never exciting. It’s the part of a cookbook you look at through forced obligation, because 1. it’s pretty much illegal to skip over any section of a cookbook and 2. you can’t live off of brownies and cake and ice cream, or you could, but shouldn’t.
I surprised myself by mentally bookmarking a number of the salad recipes, including the Vinegar Slaw with Cucumber and Dill. For some reason though, unbeknownst to me, when I went grocery shopping for the ingredients to make the salad, dill was sold out. Who knew dill was a high demand ingredient in the dead of winter? “Fine,” I thought to myself, “I’ll just use lemongrass. Close enough, right?”. Um, no. With lemongrass sitting on my kitchen counter though, I began to chop and mix and stir liberally adjusting the original recipe. I added thai chili pepper for kick, garlic because why not, lemon juice for a fresh acidity, and sesame oil for a subtle nutty flavoring. Then I called it “Thai Cabbage Salad”. I’m not sure it actually qualifies as “Thai”, but it does qualify as tasty, that much I can say with certainty.
Inspired by The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Makes enough for 12
1 medium hear green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored and thinly sliced or shredded
1 large seedless or English cucumber (about 1 pound), sliced in round discs as thinly as possible
2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped
2 Thai chili pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 teaspoon sugar
Toss the cabbage, cucumber and lemongrass together in a large bowl. Whisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the liquid over the salad, and let it marinate, tossing the cabbage occasionally. After 1 hour, it should be a bit wilted and crunchy, at 2 hours, the flavor is even better.