When I was a kid, my family and I lived in China for two years. Many things that I tasted then, never crossed my palate again. Those were unique tastes, a totally different cuisine to what I was used to (that is heavy meat-loaded German home-style cooking). The Chinese Restaurants that popped up everywhere in East Germany after the German reunification didn’t do any justice to their original cuisine.
However, one very particular taste returned. My now-husband took me to a Chinese restaurant in Johannesburg/South Africa on our first date. He ordered a seaweed salad as a starter, and there it was again!!!! Hadn’t tasted it for about 20 years. In fact, I had totally forgotten about. But it was delicious.
Another five or six years have passed. We have been living here in Dubai for a few years, and if there is one good thing to be said about Dubai, then it is the variety of foods available in the supermarkets. Since expats here come from all corners of the world, the supermarkets are bound to serve all needs: Far East Asian, Indian, Arabic, African, American, European…you name it. Here I come across a packet of dried seaweed. After a few tries I got the taste of the salad like I knew from when I was a kid. It’s all in the dressing!
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
Soak the dried seaweed in about 200ml water for about 8-10 minutes. The seaweed should turn leafy and green. Discard excess water, even wring the seaweed. Cut into slim slivers.
For the dressing: mix the sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar with the honey. Finely chop deseeded chili into small pieces and add together with the finely grated ginger, and crushed garlic. Pour the dressing over the seaweed. Keep in the fridge for half an hour. Serve cold. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
To make it a proper meal or lunch you can add toasted tofu and some nuts. Cut the tofu into cubes and toast them in a non-stick pan over medium heat until the sides turn golden brown.
Toast the pistachio kernels in a dry pan over medium heat. Both tofu and roughly chopped pistachios can be added warm to the cold salad.