chickens, salad, sauce, vegetables, vegetarian
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open sesame

A quick post today, as most of my time now is devoted to hunting down Ryan Gosling photos so I can whip up my own poster. You have the power to create more time for me by simply skipperdeeing over to the blackberry post from last week, and throwing your name in the ring for some jam.  Then I will not need a Ryan Gosling poster to bring humor and pectoral splendor to my sad circumstances, and I can spend more time trying out recipes for you.
Leaving aside Hollywood Heart Throbs for now, let’s make the natural transition to malformed chickens before we move on to salad.
We have a chicken whose foot looks like this.
Her head looks like this.
Here you can see her weird foot and weird head together.
I’ve been of two minds about posting this salad, as it trips the “Weird Ingredients That May Alienate” switch.  The weird item in question, shiso leaf, is a staple of Asian grocery stores, if you happen to live near one (or make regular pilgrimages, like I do), and as it happens to be a weed in my yard, it is not so weird at this address.  I planted it years ago and it has taken over the abandoned chicken run, finding conditions there just to its liking.  It’s a member of the mint family, which is known for its strong opinions in regard to where it will thrive.  It happens to be beautiful, and delicious, and provides shade for the one chicken–the same chicken, every day–who manages to squeeze through the small opening in the coop that leads to the run, but can never get back out.  The chicken with the weird toes, of course.
“She’s stuck again,” I said to my son last week, when I saw her pacing the fence, frantic to rejoin the flock.  “Can you let her out?”
“WHY does she do that every day?” he asked, as he stomped over to release her.
“Because she’s not very bright,” I answered.  Perhaps you think this was unkind, but you did not hear the tone.  I said it lovingly.  The evidence kind of speaks for itself.  The boy found this hilarious.  This is how he introduces her now.  Maybe she is insulted, and maybe just relieved to have the attention off her toes.  

Shiso in the wild.

It’s the foliage of her jungle prison that leads us to salad.


If you are unable to track down fresh shiso, also known as perilla, beefsteak or fresh sesame (in which case it will be light green, and not this gorgeous red, but just as tasty), you can get by here with just the dried form.  Look for this in your Health Food Emporium, or snag a jar of this (it is way more shiso-y, and awesome on popcorn and rice) and keep it by your side forever.  I used both fresh and dried here.  I can combine picking the leaves with freeing the trapped chicken.
If you too are able to gather up some fresh leaves, go see my friend Laura and make her shiso pesto first.  It is shiso’s best and highest use, and I’ve sighed over it before. You don’t absolutely NEED the yuzu she mentions in order to succeed; given the emergency conditions in which I first made it,  I had to to substitute sunflower seeds for her almonds and preserved lemon for her yuzu and I still wanted to crown her Queen.
With the handful of leaves you have left over, maybe you will want to make this salad.  I was called upon to make a meal for a person who could not have vinegar, and I banged this together to dress some steamed greens.  Later in the week I made it again and we had it over green beans and were very happy about it.  It is probably good over anything you can use your fork as a vehicle for.


supertasty beans
about a pound of tender green beans, snapped and cut in 1-2″ lengths
a small handful of fresh basil leaves
a small handful of fresh shiso leaves
2t sesame seeds
1 t dried shiso seasoning (see above; lacking this, substitute a fat pinch of coarse salt or a dash of ume vinegar)
1T toasted sesame oil
2T olive oil
juice of half a lemon

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well.  Drop in the beans and cook until bright and tender, a few minutes.  Drain and refresh with very cold water; drain again and set aside.

Stack the basil and the shiso leaves and roll them up.  Slice into very thin ribbons and then in half again.  Toss with the remaining ingredients and dress the beans, adjusting the seasonings for personal preferences regarding salty and sour.

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