Monday, June 11, 2012
Spicy Carrot Salad
This recipe has been a favorite of mine for some time. This salad frequently makes an appearance on Russian tables, and in these circles it is referred to as "Korean carrot salad." If you go to a Russian food store in Brooklyn and ask for it by name, they will know exactly what you're talking about. I am not sure, however, about its Korean origins. From my very brief research on Google it appears most searches for "Korean carrot salad" refer back to Russian recipes with the same name, which tie it to Korean settlements in the eastern parts of the former Soviet Union. The settlers perhaps had to make do with entirely local ingredients in creating this dish. The similarity I can draw between this salad and bona fide Korean cuisine is that the salad is pickled for a brief time, and has a tangy, sweet but mildly sour and spicy taste, bearing some resemblance to perhaps kim chi or pickled radish, but the ingredients used in the pickling process are different.
In any event, the fact remains that this salad is very good, whether Russian, Korean, or Korean made with Russian ingredients. The spiciness can always be adjusted to taste. Most of the spiciness in this salad comes from garlic and cayenne pepper (traditionally hot paprika would be used - such as Hungarian paprika - which I can't manage to find; I recommend using a blend of cayenne and mild paprika if you can't find hot paprika).
This recipe also calls for julienned carrots. Julienned means cut into long matchstick-sized strips. You can of course grate the carrots, but the taste and texture will differ. I recommend using a julienne peeler, which looks like a vegetable peeler but has jagged teeth, or a julienne mandoline. If you can't find them, you can also slice the carrots by hand, which can be rather laborious: slice the carrots lengthwise into 1/8 inch (3 mm) long flat pieces, then place each piece flat side down, and slice into strips. If you do it by hand, take care that the strips are not too thick, otherwise the salad will not marinade as quickly.
Side note: we are adding metric conversions for our recipes, in hopes of making this blog more friendly to our non-U.S. readers (according to Wikipedia, U.S. is the only industrialized nation which does not use the metric system as its official system of measurement). The conversions will be rounded slightly for convenience.
Spicy Carrot Salad
You will need:
1 lb (450 g) carrots
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/8 cup (18 g) coarsely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp ground paprika, or to taste
1/8 tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1. Wash and peel the carrots. With a julienne slicer, julienne the carrots and place into a bowl. Add salt and sugar and mix with your hand, working the crystals into the carrot strips so that they begin to give off juice. Let stand 10-20 minutes.
2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a pan and add the onions. Fry the onions on medium heat until fragrant and translucent. Turn off the heat, discard the onions, and pour just the hot oil over the carrots. Mix with a spoon so that the strips glisten with oil, then mix in the remaining ingredients, adjusting the seasoning to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight before serving.