Japanese-inspired Carrot Salad

I love carrot salads. Well, not really. I actually never liked carrots, and especially not carrot salad. When we were little we’d regularly eat carrot salad at home, and I never really understood what all the fuss was about. Yeah, carrots are said to increase your night vision, but the taste, nah, not for me. But then, as I grew older my palate may have changed or something happened, but I discovered the beauty of carrots. From the heavenly combinations of carrot and ginger, carrots and peanuts, carrots and spring onions, carrots and hummus – so many great ways to enjoy raw carrots .

One of my favourite ways to eat raw carrots is in coleslaw, that mayonnaisy cabbage/carrot salad. Yum. And, this recipe is actually a twist on your traditional coleslaw – ok, it’s without cabbage, but actually my original creation contained cabbage, so feel free to add Chinese cabbage to this salad.

What makes this carrot salad so super special is its Japanese-style dressing. It plays with lots of ingredients used in Japanese cookery, so you may find yourself scratching your head at the likes of mirin, rice vinegar and sake. Don’t worry, I’ve indicated simple replacements that will still make this salad taste great, so don’t run off to the shops and buy expensive new ingredients that you’re likely never to use again.

A note about the mayonnaise. I know that people in England tend to consider Hellmann’s to be a delicious mayonnaise… it’s not! Please, don’t use their ‘mayonnaise’ in this dressing, or best never use it at all. It’s just not right. Their white, fatty, tasteless spread has nothing to do with real, yellow, eggy mayonnaise. In fact, I always import my mayonnaise from Luxembourg, where we have the best mayonnaise in the world.

May 12, 2012

Now, I don’t expect you to buy yours in Luxembourg too, but at least buy a really eggy mayonnaise – preferably French- or Japanese-style. The Japanese do in fact make the second best mayonnaise in the world (sorry, I have to be patriotic on this one, Luxembourg still rules!): so if you find yourself near a Japanese store, do go in and buy the mayonnaise tub that has a baby drawing on it (called Kewpie)! Yeah, it does look weird to buy mayonnaise with a depiction of a naked toddler, but believe me, you’ll never go back to Hellmann’s – ever!

Anyway, enough now! This is a great salad, perfect for sunny springtime days and picnics in the park.

Some of you may be surprised to find a plate of raw vegetables in this entry, instead expecting to find a hearty meat pie (as previewed on my Facebook Fan Page). No, don’t worry, I haven’t converted to the raw food movement (although I had a damn great raw food dinner at a new London restaurant last week). No, the reason that some beautiful carrot salad is staring at you is because I misplaced the recipe for the promised meat pies!

Yes, yes, yes, I know, I’m disorgaized. But it’s just been quite a bit of a whirlwind the past week. I’ve been planning the details of my food photography workshop that I’ll be running at The Hive European Blogging conference in Berlin next week. I’ve also been preparing TV shoots, researching great Berlin foodie hunts for an article I’m writing for Delicious magazine – and on top I’ve been baking, shooting what I baked, meeting friends and actually also working. Phew! And it’s actually at work where I left the said meat pie recipe…. So, please bear with me for another week, and enjoy this salad instead for now.