Crunchiest Ever Apple, Radish, Beet & Kimchi Salad
Well, if you’re going to be a type, you might as well commit to it, is the kind of thing I think a little hesitantly to myself some nights in my Brooklyn kitchen as I turn on the latest This American Life and get down to work turning that jar of kimchi into dinner so that we can eat and I can blog about it.
Other nights, the pairing angles lower on the culture grid: I press grilled cheese sandwiches into browning butter as I catch up on “The Good Wife,” or pretend that nachos are dinner as accompanied by the drama of “The Bachelor.” Because to peel and julienne a whole host of beets and radishes and apples in the name of treating your body to a well-balanced meal even in the middle of the winter, you might like the carrot of some good entertainment, rather than the stick of utter silence. (Carrot would be good in this lettuce-less salad, too.)
While the combination of eating and the tube stretches back to the 1950s-ish invention of the TV dinner tray, the ability to watch or listen while cooking is hitting its zenith right now. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I have a few good set-ups. Either I stick a little speaker onto my old cracked iPad and cue up Hulu Plus or Netflix with my choice of TV shows, old and new. Or, I lean my phone up against the tile backsplash and let one of a dozen favorite podcast voices reverberate around the kitchen. Did you know you can also borrow audio books from the Brooklyn Library? I’m catching up on my Jane Austen–for free.
With all this technology, did I just destroy a last remaining place of single-tasking, erase a moment where you might find needed quiet and deep focus? I might have. But semi-mindless TV and rewind-able audio allow for some tuning out. When the oil is splattering around my egg, you bet I have no idea what Mr. Darcy just said to Elizabeth, just like I can’t hold a conversation when I’m changing lanes on the highway. But I’m not watching The Wire in the kitchen, and I’m not cooking molecular gastronomy-type stuff either.
So, yes, my wayward attention probably needs a few more boundaries than this interconnected and media-obsessed world can draw, and while washing the dishes, at least one Buddhist monk thinks you just have to wash the dishes. But maybe kitchen tasks are the exception, a time we can prize one of the few activities that do take well to multi-tasking, like driving while belting 90s pop music or subway commuting with the iPhone edition of the Times. And if watching TV while cutting vegetable after vegetable into matchsticks as you do in this salad, scratches some itch that paves the way for us to turn off the TV, sit down at a table, and concentrate on eating during dinner itself, well that might be a better match too.
- 1 shallot, minced
- About ¼ cup kimchi, chopped, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid from the jar
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 gala apples, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 chioggia (candy) beet, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 watermelon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- Place the minced shallot in a mixing bowl. Cover with the kimchi liquid and the lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and set aside for at least 10 minutes, while you prep the other veggies.
- Add the apple, beet, and radish matchsticks, and toss to combine. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. You might also want some more kimchi liquid or lemon to add tang. I like to let the salad rest another 10 minutes or so, to let the flavors meld and the veggies soften just a little. Taste once more for balance of flavors, then serve.