Gyeoja Naengchae – Mustardy Korean Salad
I’ll admit, it took me a while to get on board with salad as a proper meal. Seeing people munching away on leaves, trying to will themselves to feel full, just didn’t do it for me. And yet, salads now make a regular appearance on my daily menu.
Did I join a rabbit-emulating cult? No. Unlike most salad bars that charge sky-high prices for watery leaves, not enough protein and an insipid dressing, the salads I like to make are satisfying, delicious and even a joyful thing to eat. All you need are the right ingredients and flavours.
This little number is a straight remake of a Korean classic, gyeoja naengchae. It’s crisp, sweet and refreshing, but the Korean mustard dressing gives it (and you) a huge kick. On a hot, sweaty day, it’s absolutely perfect. Like all salads, this is more of a guide than a recipe, so feel free to change up the ingredients as you like.
The OCD part of me loves this dish because of how it’s presented, with all the different ingredients nicely compartmentalised. After all, when you know you’re eating clean, your mind feels a little neater. Give this spicy, yummy meal a shot and say goodbye to the days of sad salad.
Gyeoja Naengchae (Korean Salad with Mustard Dressing)
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon mustard powder (I use Coleman’s English Mustard Powder)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the salad:
1 Asian pear, peeled and sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin strips
1 cucumber, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
½ head of cabbage, sliced thinly
A generous handful of sprouts, such as dou miao, sunflower sprouts or alfalfa sprouts
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
To make the dressing, mix the mustard powder with the vinegar and stir to combine. Let it sit and thicken for about 10 minutes. You can also use ready-made English mustard and reduce the amount of vinegar slightly.
Add the honey, salt and sesame oil to the dressing and mix well.
Arrange the salad ingredients on a plate or platter, and drizzle with the dressing. Top with sesame seeds, toasted pine nuts or even chia seeds. Dig in!