Because it's spring, there are loads of salad greens popping up everywhere, and even though lettuce is great, I've been seduced by some of the more exotic ones that the salad stall(Wild Country Organics) at Pimlico Farmers' Market sells, like mizuna.
Mizuna is like rocket (or arugula) taste-wise, but milder. It even looks kind of like rocket don't you think? Although I've only had it in ramen/udon soups before, its slight mustardy pepperiness adds a nice zing to salads, just like rocket. Going with the Japanese theme, I made a dressing using preserved plum a la umeboshi, but the ones I used were Chinese ones my mum sent me, which are a less appealing brown/yellow colour instead of the pretty red umeboshi ones. Preserved plums, like all fermented foods, have probiotics which aid digestion and metabolism. I also made simply grilled (or broiled actually) mackerel (saba), which is the easiest easiest thing in the world to do with fresh mackerel, not to mention delicious and cheap.
Salt Grilled Mackerel (Saba)
serves 1 or 2
2 mackerel fillets (I got that from filleting 1 mackerel, but you could easily just buy ready-filleted fishes or get the fishmonger to do it for you)
coarse sea salt
pinch of white pepper
olive oil + a dash of sesame oil (optional)
1. Pat mackerel fillets dry with kitchen towels. Score the skin by lightly slashing the skin (if you forget, you'll get blistered skins. refer to the photo of my dish to see what I mean.)
2.Rub oil all over and sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper.
3. If you have a grill, lucky you! If not, turn your oven to broil on a high setting and place your mackerel skin side up on a shallow tray, on the highest rack. Turn over 5 minutes later, by which the skin should be crispy and the flesh almost cooked, so let it broil for another 1-2 min on the other side.
Mizuna Cucumber Salad with Preserved Plum Dressing
1 large handful of mizuna leaves
2 preserved plums in vinegar (not the dry ones you snack on)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
unrefined cane sugar (or other unrefined sweeteners)
tamari naturally brewed soy sauce
The amounts of sugar and soy sauce depends on the type of preserved plums you get. There are umeboshi pickled with honey which are a lot sweeter, so need some saltiness to balance out the flavours. Mine are saltier, so I didn't even use any tamari but rather, about 2 tsp of sugar. Taste and decide for yourself, sorry no copying heh!
1. Pit the plums and mash them. Combine with the rice vinegar and tamari/sugar.
2. Slice the cucumber into ribbons by halving them, then running a vegetable peeler lengthwise, and then slicing the strips into halves again lengthwise.
3. Combine all. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over.
Mackerel is so rich in flavour, that you need nothing more than a healthy pinch of coarse sea salt with that delicious crispy skin and juicy flesh. The peppery mizuna leaves and cool cucumber salad dressed in that sharp tangy plum dressing gives that bit of contrast to the oily yumminess of the mackerel. You should knock yourself in the head if you're still paying a load for saba at Japanese restaurants.