Staying Cool in the Kitchen on Hot Summer Days

When it is too hot to turn the oven on, that is when I turn to Asian salads for dinner. Here are two dressings I like. If I make the Thai Coconut Lime dressing I serve it on a bed of hydrated rice noodles, scallions, corn, grilled beef or chicken, cucumbers and tomatoes, shredded coconut and roasted peanuts. The Thai dressing is inspired by a chicken salad recipe in “A Taste of Thailand” by Duangduen Buranasombati. I like to use canned coconut milk, but if I do not have any in the house, I keep coconut milk powder in my pantry which I buy from San Francisco Herb Company and mix in with water for a substitute. It does not keep well so make it just before putting the salad together. (I have not listed salad ingredient quantities because I use whatever I have in the house.)

Thai Coconut Lime Salad Dressing – makes 1 cup
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (I like Three Crabs brand)
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
pinch of salt
1-2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced fresh lemongrass
1/4 c. coconut milk
3 Tbsp. finely shredded unsweetend coconut milk

Put all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

My husband travels to Japan at least once a year. Last time he went he brought back a bottle of wasabi sesame dressing. I have become addicted to it. I used the bottle up so quickly that I needed to figure out my own recipe. This is what I came up with. (He also brought me wasabi salt, which is terrific on this salad, or on grilled steak or chicken.) Use cooked somen noodles for the salad and combine it with grated carrot, cucumber, scallions, cooked and diced yams, roasted sesame seeds, and grilled chicken. It is also good with crab, and delicious with salmon. I do not have specific proportions. If you do not like wasabi, leave it out and make plain sesame dressing. This recipe is adapted from a recipe found on Food.com.

Wasabi Sesame Dressing – makes 1-1/2 cups
1 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. mirin
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. tahini
3 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds, partially ground in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle
1/4 c. brown rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. mustard powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2-2 Tbsp. wasabi horseradish
1 tsp. wasabi paste in a tube
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

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Wasabi Sesame Dressing

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