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Salad, scumbags

Thi N. Feb 6, 2002 02:39 AM

Samo suggested in an earlier post that I probably detested salad. I have no idea why anyone would think this. Samo, why would you think that? I love salad. I adore salad. The holy trinity of the great single home-cooked meal is: parchment-baked salmon, mashed yukon gold sweet potatoes, balsamic vinagrette over good wild greens.

BUT: I do rarely mention salads in posting, because I have a hard time beating getting some greens from the good stall at the farmer's market and dressing it with a little artisinal balsamic. (Bay Cities is my current in-town supplier for this little expensive habit.) I can't really justify spending what little lucre I have on salad outside, just like I can't justify walking into a bar and getting a good single malt. Have yet to have a salad at any continental joint that can match what I can whip up at home. (Maybe I would get a salad at Chez Panisse).

A FURTHER BUT: There is one exception (though I am willing to entertain others, if there are any suggestions). I am mad about the salads you get in Japanese restaurants. Always: crappy, very crisp iceberg, and then the most delightful dressings I've ever had. Sometimes miso-based, sometimes sesame based, I've never been unhappy by a salad in a Japanese place, as long as it isn't a truly depraved American place. (The only bad Japanese salad I've had in recent memory was at a joint in San Diego where, for tempura, they served frozen-fried-fishsticks-style-breaded-imitation-crab with tartar sauce.)

But what are these mysterious things on Japanese salads? I can't recreate them at home. So:

1. Where are the best Japanese salads in town?
(my current preference is for a cheap dive on Sawtelle, some single door in a recessed parking lot a few buildings north of FuRaiBo, where the salad comes with some al dente noodles with some kind of sweet miso-y substance - A SECOND DRESSING ON A SINGLE SALAD.

2. What is the secret of the Japanese dressing?

3. How do I make it at home?

4. Are there any decent brands I can get at a Japanese grocery?


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  1. m
    More of Everything RE: Thi N. Feb 6, 2002 11:02 AM

    Murakami in W Hollywood sells their miso dressing - its fantastic. Not only is it great on salads, but its also great on grilled fish.

    1 Reply
    1. re: More of Everything
      Vanessa On The Town RE: More of Everything Feb 6, 2002 06:18 PM

      I second, on Murakami's dressing. It's great on their house salad and their albacore salad. And you can buy it for home.

    2. b
      Burger Boy RE: Thi N. Feb 6, 2002 11:49 AM

      Try 26 Beach Restaurant, they have some great creative salads, and try Surfas (8825 National) for a great selection of balsamic and other gourmet items, many times they are cheaper than Bay Cities and other places.
      Enjoy your greens!!!

      1. s
        soccerdad RE: Thi N. Feb 6, 2002 01:44 PM

        From whence the "scumbags"?

        1. p
          P Turman RE: Thi N. Feb 6, 2002 07:11 PM

          Here are a couple of recipes. This first one is Nobu's recipe from Matsuhisa:

          1 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 cloves garlic chopped fine, 2 tsp. salt, black pepper, 2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1-1/4 cup grapeseed oil. In a blender combine everything but the oil and then blend that in at low speed. Good for up to a week in the fridge.

          Here's another one from a westside restaurant that is especially good:

          1/8 cup mirin, 1-1/8 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 3-3/4 cup soy sauce, 1-1/2 cup olive or grapeseed oil, some chopped white onion, chopped carrots, a little chopped garlic and a squeeze from half a lemon and half an orange each. Mix all except oil, carrots and onions and then add vegetables. Lastly, add oil.

          1. j
            jed RE: Thi N. Feb 7, 2002 03:10 AM

            A decent miso that can be found in J or K "town" is Red |Shell brand.It's a decent sub.J

            1. s
              Samo RE: Thi N. Feb 7, 2002 01:46 PM

              Three points and I'm out.

              The salad at Blue Marlin is not based on iceberg lettuce. It's one of those mixed greens things sold at Ralphs in a plastic bag. (BM forages locally. Cf. the pickled ginger at Niji-ya if you need proof.)

              The salad at Campanile is excellent. When are we going?

              Did you read what Amanda Hesser wrote about Jeffrey Steingarten's attitude toward salad? I simply think of you as a slender, hiphop Jeffrey, hence my error.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Samo
                Thi N. RE: Samo Feb 7, 2002 04:01 PM

                I did not read the Hesser, though I did read Steingarten's "salad the silent killer" essay. What did Hesser have to say for herself, and where can I read it?


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