Oh it is so very sad to say goodbye to our amazing February foodie, Kirra Jamison of Keke! For her final instalment, Kirra shares a super fresh and flavourful Japanese inspired salad, featuring homemade pickled ginger and amazing umeboshi plum vinegar dressing! Could this be the mystery ingredient that makes Japanese salad dressing so much more delicious than regular salad deessing…!? There’s only one way to find out! – Lucy
Kirra Jamison’s Saké Roast Pumpkin Salad with Pickled Ginger and Umeboshi Plum Dressing. Vintage plate by Johnson of Australia. Peanut chopstick holder and umeboshi vinegar in dishes – Kirra’s own props, purchased in Japan! Styling – Kirra Jamison, photo – Brooke Holm.
There is no doubt about it, I am totally a salad fiend! One of the very best things about painting from my home studio is that I can make myself lunch each day. In summer this means a giant colourful salad. This recipe is for a salad that I’ve been eating a lot of lately. It’s refreshing and light, with a strong Japanese sentiment. There are three winning ingredients that might surprise you, and will definitely have you making it over and over.
Amazing ingredient number one is saké roast pumpkin. Saké, excellent to drink but did you know you can roast vegetables in it? Uh huh, it gives pumpkin (and other veggies) a beautifully subtle but distinctly Japanese flavour. It’s best to cook your pumpkin in advance so it has time to cool completely.
Winning ingredient number two is benji shoga, otherwise known as pickled ginger. Traditionally, beni shoga’s deep magenta colour comes from red shiso leaves, however if you buy it in a supermarket it’s likely to be artificially coloured. Yikes! Instead of shiso leaves I use beetroot because it is much easier to get hold of outside of Japan, and is the perfect natural colourant. Leftover pickled ginger can be used as a topping on many other dishes such as cold soba noodle salad. Beni shoga should be consumed within a few days.
Lastly this salad is dressed simply with Umeboshi vinegar. If you have never tried Umeboshi vinegar get on it ASAP! I guarantee it will instantly become a pantry staple. It’s a powerfully salty and deliciously sour vinegar made from Japanese pickled plums. It’s provides a perfect antidote to sweet, fiery beni shoga. Umeboshi vinegar is readily available in whole food stores and Asian grocers. I use a Spiral Foods Umeboshi vinegar that I buy from Terra Madre in Northcote.
Ingredients! Clockwise from top left – snow pea shoots and pumpkin both in hand built stoneware salt dish by Shelley Panton. Salt in pink mortar from MOZI. Tomatoes in coral coloured dish from Daiso. Black sesame seeds in leaf shaped dish – Kirra’s own from Japan. White sesame seeds in handmade porcelain clay dish by and O Design. Umeboshi vinegar in dish from Japan – Kirra’s own. Styling – Kirra Jamison, photo – Brooke Holm.
For pickled ginger
3 small knobs of ginger
1 small beetroot (or half a large one)
¾ cup brown rice vinegar
½ tbsp of celtic sea salt
¼ cup coconut sugar
For saké roast pumpkin salad
½ a Japanese pumpkin
Celtic sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Mixed baby leaves
Halved cherry tomatoes
Thinly sliced pink or rose-heart radishes
Thinly sliced lebanese cucumber
Snow pea shoots
Black and white toasted sesame seeds
Umeboshi plum vinegar
For pickled ginger
Peel ginger and beetroot, before slicing them both julienne style. Gently combine all ingredients in a bowl and transfer everything to pickle press for about 12 hours. If you don’t have a pickle press any kind of tupperware will work fine.
Store benji shoga in an airtight sterilised container. If you are using a jar with a metal lid place a piece of plastic wrap between the lid and the juice each time you reseal the jar. You will avoid the flavour being affected by the metal this way.
For saké roast pumpkin salad
Preheat oven to 180°C. Scoop out and discard the seeds from the pumpkin. Rub coconut oil all over pumpkin and drizzle with a little mirin, a generous splash of saké and a pinch of salt and pepper. Completely cover pumpkin in aluminium foil and bake in oven for 30-60 minutes or until soft. Once cooked allow to cool completely and refrigerate.
To remove the excess water from the tofu place a bamboo mat, sieve (or anything that will allow the water to drain) over a bowl. Place tofu on top and then something heavy on top of the tofu – I use a can of tomatoes with some baking paper in between. Allow to drain for an hour or two in the fridge.
Wash and dry all of your fresh ingredients. Chop pumpkin into bite size pieces and discard the skin. Gently cut or break tofu into similar size pieces (nope, you do not need to cook the tofu).
I suggest assembling each salad on each person’s plate for visual awesomeness. Start with the lettuce then add pumpkin, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber and silken tofu. Arrange a handful of snow pea shoots on top followed by a pinch of beni shoga. Sprinkle with black and white toasted sesame seeds.
Season with a little salt and pepper. Serve with umeboshi plum vinegar on the side.