Thursday, August 7, 2008

Staying cool...

It has been a whirlwind summer thus far. Actually, make that a whirlwind year! I've been travelling like crazy (counting at least 20 different flights, 6 of them international) and trying to work like crazy so I can graduate soon. Sadly, even though I have so much to blog about, all this activity has left me little time to do so. Nevertheless, I try to cook whenever I can and in this searing summer heat, I like to make easy dishes that will minimize oven time. As they say, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. And I'm one weird tropical girl who really detests heat!

Thanks to all the debauchery and busy schedule I had this year, I seriously need to go on a diet! With the heat and diet, salads have been my saving grace this summer. I know salads don't exactly conjure up the most fantastic, delicious images in most people's minds, but I think that with a little creativity and some sense of adventure, it could be scrumptious, healthy and oh so easy at the same time. My ultimate secret weapon for salads? Great dressing.

Specifically, I'm really into Japanese-style sesame dressing. It's commonly used not only as salad dressing, but also as a dipping sauce for grilled meats in Japanese restaurants. This dressing goes with almost every green and protein, but it is best with softer baby greens, such as spinach. I first got hooked by this dressing when I was eating at a bbq restaurant in Tokyo, where the thinly-sliced beef was served with a fragrant, nutty sesame dip.
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There are many different brands of sesame dressing at the ethnic grocery store, which led me to experiment a little bit. I noticed that the consistency of the dressings vary widely. You can check them out by turning the bottles upside down and observing how quickly (or slowly) the dressing "moves". Thus far, the slower they are, the better. The "slow" sesame dressings tend to be more flavorful and nuttier. I also find that you can use way less of the "slow" dressings for the same degree of flavor. As you can see above, the color of the dressings are also different, I'm guessing due to the different degree of roasting that was done in the production process.

So, for dinner last night, I decided to make one of my favorite salads: a bed of soft baby spinach topped with lightly sauteed garlic shrimp. And of course, it will be served with a drizzling of the sesame dressing.

Recipe for Favorite Garlic Shrimp Spinach Salad

1 Tbsp olive or canola or vegetable oil
Minced garlic
Baby spinach (or any other greens of your choice)
Japanese-style sesame dressing

Heat oil on non-stick pan.

Add shrimp and garlic to hot pan.

Season the shrimp to taste with salt and pepper.

Once the shrimp has been cooking on one side for at most 3 minutes, flip them over one by one.

Cook another two minutes.

Remove from heat. Pile shrimp on top of the baby spinach. Drizzle with sesame dressing and enjoy!
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agrainofsand said...

heh, my parents have salad every morning with the jap sesame dressing!

marias23 said...

You should try it too! It's sooo gooood XD

glamah16 said...

I hear you on the salads. I need to check out these dressings.

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