Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kay's Oriental Salad

What you are about to encounter is far and away the premier recipe utilizing that ubiquitous gem of l'haute cuisine, the packaged Ramen noodle.

This wonderful and versatile dish comes by way of my friend, Kay Koger, who is a superb cook and the very embodiment of the spiritual gift of hospitality. The basic recipe below is surely hers, although many of the variations are mine. There are several things that make this recipe great.

First, it is delicious and will please virtually everyone. Secondly, it is outrageously simple. Thirdly, it is an example of one of my favorite types of recipe, one in which there are infinite varieties of expression possible through the manipulation of and additions to it's core components. Cooking to me is like composing music, where one takes a basic idea and then freely experiments with the harmony, embellishes the melody, plays with the words, and reworks the groove to suit personal taste and whim. Here it is:

Mix together:
1 bag of prepackaged slaw mix
2 bunches green onions, chopped
Noodles from 2 pkg. Ramen Noodles, crumbled but not pulverized
Handful of chopped nuts (I usually use almonds)

Stir together well and add to above mixture right before serving:
1 cup oil (extra light olive oil or canola is good)
1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda, which is better for you!)
1/2 cup vinegar
Both seasoning packets from noodles

This makes a fairly good-sized batch, but it is so tasty you will be eating it before you are through making it. I’m not kidding.

I NEVER use sugar, I ALWAYS use Splenda. Any flavor of Ramen noodles work, but if you are going to use one of the meat variations below, which taste GREAT, then try to match the Ramen flavor to the meat. Olive oil works great, but you will want to use a really light variety so as not to overpower the other flavors.

Sautéed chunks of chicken, beef, or pork turn this into a really excellent meal dish. Also, you can add steamed or sautéed shrimp. Even frozen shrimp (thawed & cooked) work great. Canned Albacore tuna is good. Just mix these ingredients in before you add the oil dressing mix. Wine vinegar works very well, too, especially with the beef.

Other good additives include:
Left over (real) bacon bits
Chopped fresh tomatoes - drained
Roasted pine nuts
Walnuts or pecans (instead of almonds)
Chopped fresh spinach leaves, carrots, or celery
Red pepper flakes (if you want more attitude)

This keeps great in the fridge for several days and tastes great cold. If you try this, you will thank me later. Guaranteed.

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