Salad & sides (Asian)

Sweet and sour pickled white radish 甜酸萝卜, and wish all children in the world are loved (FODMAP friendly, Vegan)

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I went to an industry lunch a few weeks ago. A speech was given by a high-up official who spoke about many things, including the children out of home care. The person said, after the government outsourcing the administration services, the children return-to-home rate had increased from 27% to 60%. And they believed the best place for the children was with their parents.

On hearing that, I felt unsettled.

I do volunteer work regularly for a charity in an inner-city suburb. That’s where I met Molly (not her real name). Molly might be in her 40s or 50s. Her face was somehow deformed, and she had no teeth. When she appeared at the charity late in the morning, she talked very loudly as if she was yelling. Her speech was not recognizable. The staff at the charity made her drinks. They told me it was prescribed protein drinks. Molly sat by a table for hours on her own, taking to everyone and no one.

“She was a beautiful little girl, beautiful!” one of the local ladies told us one day. “She was beaten by her father, ended up in the hospital with brain damage.”

I, myself, was a physically abused child when I was growing up. Those days, physically abusing children was perfectly acceptable in China. When I was beaten up, no one came to my rescue, not even my grandmother.

I was lucky. I grew up to be a strong and independent individual. Molly didn’t have that chance.

So I made my favorite childhood snack – sweet and sour pickled white radish. I used to buy them from the street vendors, 10 cents for 3 pieces, a special treat when my friends visited on very rare occasions.

Sweet and sour!

And I wish all children in the world are special to someone, and loved by someone.

Sweet and sour pickled white radish 甜酸萝卜
Sweet and sour pickled white radish 甜酸萝卜

Recipe is as follows:

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Simple bean sprout salad with soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Bean sprout salad with soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds, low FODMAP, gluten free option, vegan

I am hooked on charity shops. I love the unique pieces that I can’t buy from the department stores and homeware chain stores. There is a charity shop in the next suburb and I visit it every week, rain or shine. Last week I found this big brown urn. It was just like the one my grandmother used to grow bean sprout – layers of beans between cloth pieces; some water; and a towel covering the top of the urn; and magically we had bean sprouts for dinners.

Brown urn for growing bean sprouts
Brown urn for growing bean sprouts

Although growing bean sprouts may take a bit of time and effort. Cooking bean sprouts can be effortless. For a simple salad, I first blanch the bean sprouts lightly, add a dash of sesame oil, some sliced green shallot, then a dash of soy sauce. Garnish with a little toasted sesame seeds, it is ready to serve.

Bean sprout contains only trace amounts of FODMAPs and can be consumed freely by FODMAPers.

Recipe is as follows:

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Simple seaweed salad with mung bean vermicelli and pickled carrot (gluten free, vegan)

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Every year I made this seaweed salad at the school fete, and every year it was a sold out.  It is a wonderful traditional ‘liang ban’ (cold mix) salad – soft, crunchy, salty, sweat and sour. It is aromatic, flavored with dark soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, white pepper, shallot (scallion) and coriander.

A wonderful traditional ‘liang ban’ (cold mix) salad.

Seaweed salad with pickled carrot and mung bean vermicelli

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Hairy gourd ‘liangban’ salad with XO sauce 节瓜凉拌

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This week I discovered an Asian grocery store 10 minutes’ drive away. Their stock range was quite comprehensive. The man in the shop helped me with the bags to my car which was sort of services I never experienced from an Asian store. I managed to find a parking spot very close to the shop – can’t believe my luck. I was very impressed.

I picked up a beautifully fresh hairy gourd from the shop. Hairy gourd is a very popular vegetable in Southern China, easy to grow with plenty of subtropical rains. The gourd is normally cooked in a soup or a stew with a tender and soft texture.

Today I decided to do something different with a ‘liangban’ 凉拌 salad. I added XO sauce to the salad for a kick as the gourd, on its own, could be quite plain. XO sauce is a mildly spicy paste made with dried seafood, garlic and chili, packed of flavors.

Hairy gourd with XO sauce

I first peeled the skin of the gourd; I then julienned the flesh, disregard the seedy part of the gourd (but reversed for a soup dish). I then briefly blanched the vegetable until it was just cooked (about 1-2 minute) and ran it under cold water to cool; I mixed the drained vegetable with sesame oil, XO sauce, a generous dash of dark soy sauce, white pepper, chili, sesame seeds and sliced green shallot. I left the salad in fridge to chill for couple of hours before serving.  So simple and delicious. No recipe required.

Spiced potato salad with pepper, chili infused oil and white balsamic vinegar (gluten free, vegan)

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Our friends had a 20 year anniversary getaway at South Australia for a few days. We looked after their child and dog while they were away. It was easy as their beautiful son is our little boy’s best friend. Their gorgeous cavalier is the best friend of our cavoodle.

When they were back they brought us a nice bottle of white balsamic vinegar they picked up from a market at the Barossa Valley.  So I made a fusion potato salad with it.

This salad used blanched potato flavored with turmeric, coriander seeds and cardamon, a mild Sichuan style pepper-chili-garlic infused oil, sesame oil, white balsamic, pickled carrot, sliced wood ear fungus, sliced capsicum, sesame, shallot and coriander.

Potato salad with turmeric, pepper infused oil and white balsamic

Recipe is as follows:

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Tangy green mango salad with prawns (gluten free)

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Friends who live in an inner west suburb of Sydney have a few mango trees. Every year I admired their trees and promised to make them some green mango salad. But I was never there when the mangoes were green.

This year they brought over 2 green mangoes to our house. Reportedly the husband was injured trying to catch the second mango –  the mango fell off the tree, bounced off his hands and hit him in the “privates”.

I had to make a mango salad as compensation.

The dish is very simple, mango, carrot and prawns pickled in a fish sauce, apple cider vinegar and sugar, mixed with coriander, green shallot and sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Tangy green mango salad with prawns (gluten free)

Recipe is as follows:

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Tofu knots, enoki mushrooms and wood ear fungus salad 冷拌

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Yesterday it was the 15th day of Luna New Year (元宵节, YuanXiao), which is known as the day of lantern festival.  There was no lanterns for us. After all, it was too hot to even go outside in the scorching weather in Sydney.

So I made a few simple dishes to enjoy with a few of our friends, who came over to cool down in our pool.  One of the dishes I made was a ‘liangban’ salad with chewy tofu knots (百页结), tasty enokitake mushrooms (金菇), crunchy wood ears fungus (木耳), green shallot and coriander.

'LiangBan' salad of tofu knots, enoki mushrooms & wood ear fungus

Recipe is as follows:

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