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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vietnamese Salad With Calamari

GLUTEN-FREE | GRAIN-FREE |  DAIRY-FREE


This colorful salad is light but filling and perfect for summer. The calamari are cooked quickly -- so they stay tender and juicy -- then dressed with sour lime juice, savory fish sauce, a touch of honey for sweetness, and the brights flavors of mint and cilantro -- so they are incredibly flavorful as well.

Calamari are a great seafood bargain because they are inexpensive and low in toxins. If you don't have calamari or prefer an alternative, you can substitute shrimp or scallops.

For the vegetable base, I chose Brussels sprouts, carrot, and scallion. You could substitute other members of the cabbage family, like savoy or purple cabbage, for the Brussels sprouts. Instead of carrot, you could use daikon radish, golden beet, or red bell pepper. Instead of scallions you could add shallot or red onion.

The olive oil in this sauce isn't traditional to Asian cuisine but I wanted to add another source of healthy fat because calamari don't contain much fat. You can substitute cold-pressed sesame oil if you wish.

I used a food processor to shred the Brussels sprouts and carrot, but you could use a manual grater or thinly slice them by hand. I used my microplane to grate the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and turmeric. If you don't have a microplane or sharp hand grater, you could mince them instead. If you don't have fresh turmeric, add a pinch of dried, ground turmeric.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1½ pounds cleaned calamari, tentacles separated and bodies sliced into rings
  • 2 organic limes, zest and juice (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1½ inches fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and outer layers removed
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric
  • Freshly ground peppercorn to taste
  • 1 or 2 red Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • ½ pound Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (or more) chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems, plus more leaves for garnish
  • ½ cup (or more) chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup chopped blistered (soaked prior to roasting) or dry roasted peanuts plus more for garnish

Directions:
  1. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the calamari tentacles and sauté until they have curled up and cooked through, just a few minutes. Transfer them to a large bowl. Cook the calamari rings just through, it will take just a minute or two depending on how thick they are. Turn off the heat and transfer them to the same bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice to the hot skillet and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the fish sauce, honey, and lime zest. Grate the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and turmeric directly into the skillet. Add the ground peppercorn, fresh chili pepper, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to thoroughly combine all of the ingredients. Add the calamari back to the pan, toss to coat them with the sauce, and set them aside.
  3. Add the prepared Brussels sprouts, carrot, scallion, cilantro, mint, and peanuts to the bowl and toss them together. Reserve the calamari and add the sauce to the bowl. Toss until everything is thoroughly combined. Transfer the salad to a platter, bowl, or individual plates, top with the calamari, and garnish with peanuts, mint and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.



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