What makes a Japanese salad recipe? It’s all in the dressing. This week I’ve been experimenting with three classic salad dressings, nihaizu, sambaizu and amazu, which give an unmistakably Japanese flavour to any combination of ingredients. Variations of these three dressings appear in many of the salad dishes known collectively as sunomono or ‘vinegary things.’ The process for all these dishes is a simple one:
- choose two or three complementary ingredients
- cut as you like (an assortment of thin shreds and delicate slices is best)
- cook or salt if required; vegetables can be used raw but can be softened or firmed up with heat or salt respectively
- chill (the ingredients; but also, just chill)*
- combine and dress with something that ends in 酢 (-zu)
* Even in the words of the supremely detailed Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Japanese salads ‘are flexible ideas, not dogma’. The same surely goes for all salads.