I didn’t come up with this idea on my own. I borrowed it from a salad that I ate at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega restaurant in Napa Valley. It’s basically a cabbage slaw but made elegant by the fine shavings of Brussels sprouts. Chiarello’s version had sieved egg, marcona almonds, pecorino cheese and a citrus vinaigrette. It captivated me with its plush and refreshing qualities. I left the restaurant pondering how I could tilt the salad toward Asia. This is what I came up with.
The most difficult thing to do is shaving the Brussels sprouts. I removed the outer leaves until there was enough of a base so that I could firmly hold on to the sprout. Then I used a Benriner mandolin to make the shavings, stopping short of the final 1/3 inch to avoid shaving off my finger tips. (I could have worn a cut-and-slash resistant glove but did not.)
After shaving the Brussels sprouts, it was all downhill. I just had to dress them. For tropical flair, I squirted on some lime juice, which also helped to slightly wilt the sprouts.
Then I rummaged through my fridge for dressing ingredients. I found a cucumber mayonnaise, which I’d made the night before to eat with fried oysters. The mayonnaise came together like this:
In a small food processor, blend together:
1 Persian cucumber, unpeeled and grated (use the finest hole on a box grater)
2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, whole egg or homemade
Aim for a texture like that of a light salad dressing. Transfer to a bowl then add salt and pepper to taste. For tang, add a bit of fresh lemon or tangerine juice.
After tossing the ingredients, I let them sit for a few minutes to commingle. I then tasted it and adjusted its flavor with a pinch of sugar as I’d gone too far with the lime juice. To finish the salad, I needed a burst of color and flavor and opted for a sprinkling of ichimi togarashi (Japanese ground chile pepper). That was it. I was done.
Other dressings you could use:
- Combine mayonnaise with chile garlic sauce (tuong ot toi) and lime juice. Add water to thin it out a bit. Season with salt.
- A traditional Vietnamese fish sauce dressing like the one used for the spicy cabbage salad recipe. Feel free to mix in some Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), mint, or cilantro to inject herby goodness. Add finely chopped cashews for a little rich crunch. There is vinegar in the dressing to wilt and slightly ‘cook’ the Brussels sprout. Omit the initial squirts of lime.
I think you get the idea. When making this salad, you can take the seasonings in many directions. I hope you try this recipe out and tweak it to your liking too!