Project #213 – Japanese-Style Beet Salad

Clark and I stayed with a friend in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan last fall. She served us the beet salad every morning for breakfast during our stay. While it might sound to some people that beet salad would make for a pretty miserable breakfast, it was actually one of the culinary highlights of our trip. The beets themselves were even grown with love in her own rooftop garden.

Stupidly, I forgot all about that wonderful treat until I purchased a carton of beets from the farmer’s market yesterday. Clark and I had to scrape our respective memories in order to reconstruct the recipe, but I think we did a reasonable job.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds of beets (~10 small ones)
  • 2 tbsp dried wakame
  • 1/8 cup chopped chives
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp Ponzu

I scrubbed the dirt off of each beet, chopped them into smaller pieces and placed them on a cookie sheet. I baked them at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until they were nice and soft and then let them cool enough to be handled. Finally, I rubbed off the remaining skin on each beet slice and then diced them into even smaller pieces.

I then added about 1/2 of water to the wakame in a separate bowl and gave it 15 minutes to hydrate.

While waiting on the seaweed I roasted my sesame seeds. I placed them in a thin layer at the bottom of a small pan and ran it over my stove flame on high until the seeds started to turn brown and crackle. You’ll want to keep the pan covered, because the seeds will pop just like pop corn and get all over the kitchen. Shake the pan so that everything cooks uniformly; it will only take about 20-30 seconds to roast them to a golden brown.

I then crushed the roasted seeds into a powder using my mortar and pestle.

The beet salad can be made in a big bowl and dished out in individual portions if you’re feeding more than one person. Otherwise, I like to keep the ingredients separate until I want a bowl for a snack or with dinner. They’ll keep by themselves, covered, for up to a week. Just mix them together at the desired proportions and enjoy.

This is one of the tastiest ‘healthy’ dishes I’ve ever eaten. It’s one of Clark’s favorites and I’ve been giving him stern warnings not to eat it all.


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