They say the cause of most marital discord is disagreement about money, but in my house, it’s definitely more about leftovers. I don’t so much mean leftover meals—though those cause their fair share of spats—but leftover ingredients. You know, the half-can of tomato paste or coconut milk, or the giant bag of pecans purchased for a recipe that called for two tablespoons and now sits idle in the freezer.
It generally goes like this: I buy a jar, can, bag, or tub of something that I need for a recipe. I pop the leftovers in the fridge, freezer, or cupboard. A week or a month—okay sometimes a year—later, my husband, grumbling about all the “crap we are never going to use,” throws it away. Invariably, within a week after that, I go to use said ingredient in a recipe, only to find that it has vanished. I ask my husband, “What happened to the [insert ingredient here] I put in here?” He says, unapologetically, “Oh, I didn’t think you were ever going to use that.” And then I march off to the store to buy a replacement jar, can, bag, or tub, grumbling about how wasteful it is to have to buy another whole container of the ingredient.
Lately I’ve been really trying hard to make plans to use up these dribs and drabs sooner rather than later. This salad was inspired by the big tub of shiro miso (white, or mild, fermented soybean paste) that I bought to make miso-glazed cod one night a few months ago (which, it turns out, is better with red miso, but my husband would probably threaten to divorce me if I bought another tub of miso before using up the first). I had a craving for a crisp, lemony, salty, slightly fishy Caesar salad and I thought this would be a great twist (it also has the added benefit of getting its creaminess from the miso paste, thereby eliminating the need for a raw egg if you're squeamish about that sort of thing).
For the dressing, I wanted to mimic a traditional Caesar’s lemony tang, creaminess, and garlicky bite so I stuck with a simple mix of white miso paste, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. For the lettuce I used the standard Romaine, and in place of anchovies, I went for bright salmon eggs, mainly because they look like glittering jewels in their little plastic containers at the Japanese market near my house.
This dressing has a flavor profile similar enough to traditional Caesar that you could certainly pair it with the usual Caesar accouterments of Parmesan cheese and sourdough croutons, but I decided to stick with the Japanese flavor theme. For that crouton-y crunch, I used ozachuke wakame, a salty condiment made of tiny puffed rice balls and dried seaweed. Not only do the little puffed rice balls add the requisite crispy crunch you expect in a Caesar salad, but the seaweed adds another level of sea flavor reminiscent of anchovies, and the saltiness echoes the Parmesan’s.
All in all, this salad was a winner: A fun way to use up that extra miso paste with a salad that is bright, refreshing, and full of delicious surprises. Now, of course, I just need to find a use for the rest of that big jar of ozachuke wakame.
- 1 heaping tablespoon shiro (white) miso
- 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 hearts of Romaine, leaves separated
- 2 tablespoons salmon roe
- 2 tablespoons ozachuke wakame
- In a small bowl, jar, or the container of a mini food processor, combine the miso, lemon juice, and garlic and whisk, shake, or process until well combined and emulsified.
- Place the lettuce leaves in a bowl or on a serving platter. Drizzle about two-thirds of the dressing over the lettuce and toss to coat. Drizzle on more dressing if needed.
- Arrange the leaves nicely, then top with the salmon roe and ozachuke wakame.
- Serve immediately.