Many moons ago, when my best friend and I lived a somewhat surreal coexistence in the Basque Country, we spent hours in the kitchen cooking together. We shared recipes and adapted them together and over time I built up an impressive array of quick, nutritious and tasty food. Anna eats seriously healthy food and is a great influence. She's also not afraid to experiment and mixes some unlikely bedfellows with surprisingly good results. This is one of the many recipes she shared with me for which I am eternally grateful.
It's really easy to make and the only demands it makes is that you use good, fresh ingredients. It makes a great side dish with simple food (pan fried chicken breast or a simple baked salmon, perhaps?) and you know you're getting plenty of fresh veg and other goodies (ginger, garlic and honey in particular) to keep you warm and healthy in the cold winter months.
Since Anna first introduced me to this around 13 years ago the exact quantities of the original recipe are a mystery to me. So this is how I make it nowadays. This is enough for a side dish for two people.
Large bowl for serving
1 head of broccoli
2 or 3 spring onions
Piece of fresh2 ginger (about 2")
1 clove of garlic
1 dessertspoon salad oil3
1 dessertspoon soy sauce
1 dessertspoon clear honey
Handful of flaked almonds
Wash broccoli and break into florets. Steam for about 5-7 minutes until just starting to soften - it doesn't want to be fully cooked.
Meanwhile, clean, trim and slice the spring onions in rounds. If you're using the larger salad onions then you should chop them finely. Put them in the large salad bowl you'll be serving the dish in.
In a dry frying pan gently toast the flaked almonds. These will go from completely cold to burnt in no time at all, so do keep an eye on them. If in doubt, turn off the heat. If they're starting to go brown, rather than the optimal golden colour, then shake them out of the pan onto a plate, as the heat of the pan will keep darkening them.
But while we're on the subject, you'll need to stab your broccoli with a sharp knife from time to time to make sure it doesn't get too soft.
Peel the ginger and crush through the garlic crusher, taking care to get all the juice it will expel, into a jar with a lid. Then peel and crush the garlic into the same jar.4
Add the oil, soy sauce and honey to the ginger and garlic, put the lid on tight and shake well. The honey may not mix completely but don't worry, we'll deal with that later.
By now your almonds should be toasted and your broccoli just starting to soften at the edges. Take both off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Put the broccoli into the salad bowl. Pour the dressing over. The warmth of the broccoli will melt the honey and as you gently stir the salad the dressing will coat the broccoli nicely.
Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top, stick a big serving spoon in the salad bowl and you're ready to rock and roll.
1. Or the aforementioned sharp knife and infinite patience.
2. It has to be fresh. Ground ginger that's been sitting in your kitchen cupboard for three years just does not have the same taste, texture or medicinal qualities. Half the point of this dish is that you get to eat something that is really good for you and will help keep nasty colds and flu at bay without any compromise on tasty, warming yumminess.
3. I use walnut oil for this dish, but go with what you prefer. A light olive oil mixed with a dash of sesame oil also works well, but be stingy with the sesame or it will overpower the other flavours. Extra virgin olive oil is also too rich for this salad.
4. This is when those without a garlic crusher regret their lack of such a valuable utensil. If you have a very fine grater, of the kind you'd have for grating nutmeg, then use that. Otherwise you'll just have to use your knife and chop till your wrist aches. No, really. You need to chop that ginger and garlic as tiny as if it were crushed.
Mad props to yclept, whose comments regarding the right kind of salad for this time of year in crunchy yummy reminded me about this dish and spurred me into noding it.