I created this salad whilst practising the process of blanching vegetables taught to me by fishmonger Nic Rascle during a photoshoot at his shop La Petite Poissonnerie in Primrose Hill. He had a huge pot of water boiling and another full of ice and water to stop asparagus cooking beyond 45 seconds. Precision is everything for the perfect emerald green preservation of colour and crunch. Dunk, time, scoop, plunge. It takes concentration, coordination and agility to get the veg out in time. It can be a bit like a stressful lucky dip trying to grab all the beans out at once!
Now I own a Thermomix, I cook vegetables this way all the time as it is effortless and fool proof and preserves the nutrition. And it is a zen exercise. No more guessing at temperature as the 100°C appears on the screen. Setting the timer exactly to the second means no overcooking. Everything being in the simmering basket means the whole lot can be taken out of the boiling and into the icy cold water in one quick and easy action.
This recipe uses as a dressing the dark sauce used for Hainanese Chicken Rice (stay tuned for that recipe). I am slowly weaning myself off soy sauce and tend to use Coconut Aminos instead. You can add strips of left over chicken (or indeed any other meat) and/or glass noodles to it to make it a whole meal.
Please note: proper blanching requires heavily salted water – and it really does intensify the colour and is supposed to prevent nutrients leaching out. For those who don’t have a Thermomix and those who do but want the science behind it all, The Reluctant Gourmet should be investigated!
BLANCHED GREEN VEGETABLE SALAD with SESAME & SOY
2 tbsp light soy or Tamari Soy or Coconut Aminos
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sunflower or rape seed oil
1/2 tbsp mirin
Your choice of green vegetables in generous handfuls:
Long stem brocolli
Sugar snap peas
Toasted sesame seeds to garnish
To make the dark sauce, pour all the ingredients in a jam jar, secure the lid and shake vigorously.
Prepare a tray lined with a couple of tea towels. Fill a large bowl with icy water (ice cubes added to it will be ideal but not necessary if the water is really cold). Set the tray and bowl by your Thermomix.
Wash and prep the vegetables, ensuring that they are trimmed to fit nicely in the simmering basket.
Boil 1 1/2 litres of water in a kettle to save time. Pour the boiling water into the TM bowl immediately and set the temperature to 100°C for say two to three minutes at a slow speed to bring it back to the correct temperature. Broccoli and green beans take 1 minute to blanch; depending on how much you are making, you could either do them together or in two or more batches. Place the vegetables in the simmering basket, hook on the spatula as a handle for the basket For the next part be quick to ensure the water temperature is maintained as well as possible! Carefully place the basket into the boiling water, Remove the spatula, place the lid and measuring cup on and blanch for a minute at 100 degrees on speed 5. Once done, carefully remove the lid, hook the basket securely with the spatula and lift it out and tip the veg into the icy water. Bring the water back to 100°C. Whilst this is happening, scoop the cooked veg out of the icy water and place on the lined tray to drain, gently patting it dry. Repeat the blanching process with all the vegetables. Note that mangetout, asparagus and sugar snaps should only be blanched for 30 seconds (again, depending on the quantity, you can do them together).
Pat any excess water off the veg with some kitchen paper. Place in a large serving dish. Drizzle on the dressing and toss gently. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seed. Serve.