I am finally starting to figure out how to eat a delicious, produce-heavy, vegan diet while living in Japan (not an easy task), and I just can’t keep my discoveries to myself! So, you can look forward to some Japanese-inspired, sugar and flour free recipes in the near future. 🙂
Confession: I make this salad on repeat almost every day for lunch, and I have for months now. Why mess with a good thing? The sweet fruit combined with the creamy, tangy, nutty, umami-action of the miso tahini dressing makes for a killer and satisfying combo.
Satsuma oranges are winter fruits in Japan and in the northwestern US. I find them to be a sweet, shining, delicious beacon of light in the cold, dark, fresh-produce-deficient winter months. These easy-to-peel oranges are different than “cuties”, tangerines, or other small oranges, but feel free to use whatever sweet citrus-y fruits are your favorite and in season where you live. In Japanese they are called “mikan” and we have been enjoying them all winter here.
Because I am currently living in Kyoto and immersed in a culture of sea vegetables, I always throw a little wakame into my salads. Wakame can be found at most supermarkets these days in the Asian foods section and it’s nutritious, delicious, and a great way get vegetables during the winter. To use it, just put about a tablespoon full of the dried wakame in a small bowl of water and let it sit for 5 minutes before squeezing out the water. But if seaweed isn’t your thing, feel free to leave it out.
- salad greens I like mizuna, red lettuce, or spinach
- cabbage, shredded I buy pre-shredded
- cucumbers sliced
- Salad sprouts optional
- 1 Tbsp dried wakame seaweed optional, rehydrate in water for 5 minutes, then squeeze out water
- 2-3 satsumas or other small oranges separated and halved
Miso Tahini Dressing
- 1 Tbsp tahini
- 1 Tbsp light, untoasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp white miso paste
- 1 tsp mirin optional
- 1 tsp sake optional
- If using wakame, put about 1 Tbsp in a bowl of water and let sit for 5 minutes to rehydrate.
- Toss together the salad ingredients.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small cup or bowl and stir with a fork. Taste and adjust as desired. You can add more miso or mirin for sweetness and vinegar for tanginess.
- Dress the salad, garnish with a few sesame seeds for presentation if desired, and enjoy.
- Feel free to scale this recipe up for a family or a crowd. I like to make a large batch of dressing ahead to store in the fridge. It will keep for a long time, although I usually go through it in a week.
- I recommend white miso for this recipe, as it is much sweeter and more delicate than red or brown miso.
- I do not recommend using seasoned rice vinegar or sushi vinegar, just use regular rice vinegar. The other stuff has other additives and usually a bunch of sugar.
- Use light colored sesame oil, not the fragrant dark toasted sesame oil. That stuff is delicious and has a time and place, but it will be too overpowering in this context.
- For more info on recommended brands of mirin and sake (which are essential staples in Japanese cooking) check out this page.