Asian Salads: 72 Inspired Recipes from Vietnam, China, Korea, Thailand and India, written by Maki Watanabe, features a variety of easy and delicious salads. Highlights include Pickled Daikon Radish and Carrot Salad, Tomato and Bean Sprouts with Vietnamese Dressing, Hoe Deopbap (Korean White Fish Carpaccio), Chicken & Green Onions with Spicy Sesame Dressing, Fried Fish Nuggets with Carrot and Onion Chili Sauce, and Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad). I will also be sharing her recipe for Shredded Potato and Red Bell Pepper with Black Vinegar following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Maki Watanabe is active in the natural lifestyle community and has written many cookbooks in Japanese including the two-time “Recipe Book Award” winner, Daily Side Salads. She has made appearances in advertisements and on television, contributed to books and magazines, and collaborated with SHOP to create kitchen utensils and clothing.
Chapters are divided based on the type of salad: Versatile Asian Dressings; Marinated and Pickled Salads; Light and Refreshing Salads; Seafood Salads; Salads with Meat and Chicken; Salads with Fritters, Spring Rolls and Other Fried Snacks; and Stir-Fried Salads and Vegetables. The contents have a list of the recipes with page number for easy reference.
Maki begins with a short introduction and how she was inspired to create the salads in this book. She includes a series of guides focusing on the different types of seasonings and pantry items, basic cooking terms, kitchen and tableware, fresh herbs, drink pairing ideas, and even a handful of easy dressing recipes.
The photography is provided by Taro Terasawa with styling by Kanako Sasaki. Every recipe is accompanied by a quarter to full page photo of the finished dish. A few even have smaller step-by-step photos to demonstrate techniques such as frying fish cakes, folding samosas, and pickling Napa cabbage and carrots. Titles are written in English and occasionally the original language. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Each recipe includes a headnote with a short introduction, serving size, prep time, and helpful tips.
This book is a great pick for those interested in trying a variety of salad and vegetable-based recipes. There is a nice mixture of light salads along with more intricate ones filling enough to be a main course. Some take as little as 5 minutes to prepare with no cooking required, while a few others involve more complicated techniques. Having an Asian market nearby will be helpful for locating items such as pork belly, lemongrass, nam pla (fish sauce), Szechuan pepper, sesame paste, gochujang, black vinegar, garam masala, dried white cloud ear mushrooms, salted jellyfish, nuoc mam, sake, lotus root, Thai basil, sliced beef tongue, cellophane noodles, rice paper wrappers, shiso leaves, and more.
Shredded Potato and Red Bell Pepper with Black Vinegar
This Shredded Potato and Red Bell Pepper with Black Vinegar recipe is a light and refreshing side that comes together in about 10 minutes. Potatoes are peeled and finely shredded (I use this Julienne Cutter), then boiled briefly in water seasoned with Shaoxing wine until just tender but still crisp. They are drained well, tossed with thinly sliced bell peppers (that have also soaked in water for about 3 minutes), and coated in a light mixture of black vinegar and nam pla (fish sauce). To finish, drizzle with a little sesame oil and sprinkle a pinch of five spice powder.
Shaoxing Wine is a fermented rice wine originally from Shaoxing in eastern China. I have been able to find it at larger grocery stores with a sizeable wine selection, such as Wegmans. It is also available in Asian food markets specializing in Chinese ingredients. Sherry can be used as a substitution.
I first came across black vinegar (Chinkiang Vinegar) as a dipping sauce for Xiao Long Bao (Chinese Soup Dumplings) and it is now one of my favorites. Chinkiang Vinegar (Zhenjiang, 镇江香醋) is a glutinous rice and wheat bran-based vinegar from Zhenjiang that is aged until it becomes dark brown to black resulting in a rich flavor with a hint of sweetness. I have been able to find it in Asian markets with Chinese ingredients and more recently even in larger grocery stores. It is also available on Amazon for a higher price: Gold Plum Chinkiang Vinegar.
Nam pla (fish sauce) is a condiment popular in Southeast Asian cooking. It is created by slowly fermenting fish (generally anchovies) in a salt water mixture, then pressing to produce a thin liquid. It has quite the strong smell, but provides a savory umami flavor. Brands from different countries will vary a bit in taste and quality. Fish sauce is available in most Asian food markets and even some larger grocery stores. Be sure to check the ingredient list first. The good ones should only contain anchovies, salt, and water.
I also made the Sweet Pickled Red Onions, Cucumber Salad with Yogurt & Garlic Dressing (Raita), Beef and Avocado Thai Salad, and Vegetable-Packed Stir-Fried Glass Noodles (Japchae).
The Sweet Pickled Red Onions is an easy accompaniment that comes together in only 10 minutes. Diced red onions are placed in a jar and covered with a heated sweet and sour mixture of cumin seeds, salt, sugar, white, wine, and lemon juice. Maki recommends pairing them with curry or as a salad topping. I especially enjoyed the onions as a garnish on sandwiches.
The Cucumber Salad with Yogurt & Garlic Dressing is another easy recipe. A small cucumber is roughly chopped and tossed with a garlicky yogurt and olive oil. It is especially delicious and refreshing paired with spicy meals.
This Beef and Avocado Salad was inspired by a Thai Salad Maki tried that combines boiled beef and vegetables. Thinly sliced beef is very briefly boiled and coated in a lemony spicy dressing. The mixture is tossed with avocado, red onion, cilantro, and green onions. This salad was definitely one of my favorites.
I happened to have some leftover dangmyeon (sweet potato noodles) in the pantry, so used them to make this Vegetable-Packed Stir-Fried Glass Noodles (Japchae). This recipe was the favorite with the kids. Cooked dangmyeon noodles are tossed with a variety of stir-fried vegetables and seasoned with a soy sauce mixture. Overall, the noodles come together in 30 minutes for a well-rounded dish perfect for weeknights.
Shredded Potato and Red Bell Pepper with Black Vinegar Recipe
Excerpt from Asian Salads
Shredded Potato and Red Bell Pepper with Black Vinegar
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sake
- 2 small red bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon black vinegar
- 2 teaspoons nam pla (fish sauce)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 pinch five spice powder
- Peel and finely shred the potatoes, and soak in a bowl of cold water for a minute. Drain. Bring a pan of water to a boil with the Shaoxing wine and add the shredded potatoes. Boil for 45 seconds, then drain well.
- De-seed and thinly slice the bell peppers lengthwise, and soak in a bowl of cold water for about 3 minutes. Drain well.
- Mix the black vinegar and nam pla in a bowl, add the potato and bell pepper, and toss well to coat. Drizzle in the sesame oil and mix. Transfer to serving plates, and sprinkle with a little five spice powder.