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Fresh Leafy Kimchi Salad

Hetty McKinnon

The deep intensity of kimchi is delightfully reimagined in this bright, fresh salad. Tender greens, rich avocado, and crisp sunflower seeds round out those assertive flavors and make for a super savory salad that feels both light and satisfying. You’ll probably have extra kimchi paste, so use it to make a quick kimchi out of any vegetable that can be eaten raw, like daikon radish, cucumbers, or fennel.

Serves 2 as a side, or 1 person who wants to eat a huge bowl of leaves

for the kimchi paste
3 dried shiitake mushrooms

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder or sea salt

½ cup gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes)

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1- to 2-centimeter piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

½ onion or 1 eschalot, roughly chopped

1 apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

for the salad
3½ ounces salad leaves (watercress, purslane, pea shoots, baby spinach, or a combination)

2 to 3 tablespoons kimchi paste

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

1 avocado, sliced into wedges

1 scallion, finely sliced

handful of cilantro leaves

juice of ½ lime or lemon

extra virgin olive oil or toasted sesame oil

sea salt and black pepper

1. First, make the kimchi paste. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in the boiling water for 30 minutes, then squeeze them out into the soaking water. Keep the mushrooms for another use (they can be stored in the fridge or freezer until you need them). Strain the mushroom water to remove any dirt, then stir in the stock powder or sea salt until dissolved. Then add the gochugaru, garlic, ginger, onion or eschalot, apple, and mushroom water to a food processor or blender and whiz into a paste.

2. Place the leaves in a bowl and add enough kimchi paste to suit your preferred level of spice. Add the sunflower seeds, avocado, scallion, and cilantro and season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss gently to combine. Finish with a squeeze of citrus and some oil, then serve immediately.

From To Asia, with Love by Hetty McKinnon, copyright © 2021. Published by Prestel Publishing. Photography: Hetty McKinnon