How to Salad for people who hate it
Salad, o Salad
I hate you
Salad, o Salad,
I dont want you
You are boring,
You are bland
Yet you are in,
Salad, o Salad,
Please teach me
Shine on me
I like to cook. People who like to cook, don’t salad. I love my food. I own it. Those scales of flavors and contrast that makes food worth all the work. Until recently…
So, last month I decided to move to a different house. I was busy moving. Work was occupying as usual. Everything was hectic. I did not have time to cook and I was hungry from all the physical work. One day, late at night, I saw a Poke ‘bar’. It was the only restaurant open. I went in with a lot of hope. Poke is essentially a salad to me. There is this DIY element (IKEA effect) and loads of choice (paradox of choice). I mean there are apps and all. Poke is definitely the answer to everything kind of food. ;-)
Interest in this salad from Hawaii has transformed Poke into a heathy hipsterish meal. It makes surfers go burpers. It’s range of flavors and textures, made me interested in it. I sort of liked it.
I wondered, what makes me like it? As a fan of deconstruction, I tried to deconstruct several pokes I had. Made diary entries of them. I did so much effort, because, hey Salad, I really want to love you. You are so easy, healthy, and you save time. If only you could be tasty, we could have something long term going on, and not just stupid bumble dates.
After some initial research, like a good designer, I made a ‘Framework’ of Salads for myself. My claim is that you can design a great salad using this ‘tool’. Further, like a good designer, I promise, it is be a universal thing and all. Not to mention, we can gamify things here. Pun Intended.
But first, the principle!
The secret is dynamic contrast. A thing most chefs know and use. The idea is to make things interesting by having a variety of textures, colors, flavors, and odors in it. So, Every bite becomes an adventure. Mystery, anticipation, and temporal relaxation. The idea originally comes from music.
Let us take an example, imagine having some ‘french’ fries with a cheese dip. The outer part of the fries are crisp, the inner is a bit softer, the cheese dip has a creamy, smooth, salty and sour taste to it. Combined together it is like a symphony playing on our tongue. Inspired by this ‘method’, I studied several different ingredients in a salad and made a simple affinity map to come up with this framework(ish).
So, lets get to the framework. Sounds good?!
There are six dimensions and six different options on each dimension to choose from. The dimensions are like notes or moods. The ingredients are what triggers them for me. These are not prescriptive, but purely based on my local research. Feel free to mix and match based on your liking and context. But remember – Try to keep things simple.
1. Fried Corn 2. Unsalted Peanuts 3. Cream Cheese Chips 4. Fried Onions 5. Wasabi peanuts 6. Smoked almonds/cashews
Sweet and Sour
1.Raisins 2.Corn 3.Jalapeños 4.Olives 5.Cherry Tomatoes 6.Pickles at hand
1.Mango 2.Shredded Carrots 3.Beetroot 4.Red Lettuce 5.Overnight Chia seeds 6.Firm/smoked Tofu
1.Mozzarella balls 2.Boiled eggs 3.Feta Cheese 4.Quinoa 5.Boiled Pasta 6.IKEA Veggie Balls
1.Iceberg Lettuce 2.Arugula 3.Spinach 4.Kale 5.Escarole 6.Radicchio
1.Soya sauce 2.Siracha Mayo 3.Thick Thai Yellow curry paste in coconut milk 4.Balsamic Vinegar+Olive Oil Dressing + Mustard 5.Crema de Rocotto 6.Sweet and Sour Sauce (Agridulce)
Choose up-to 3 from the Greens dimension and add olive oil on the top with a bit of salt. Then add whatever you like from the other dimensions. The crunch goes on the top so the water does not kill it. Also, please try to dry the lettuce as much as possible (Mr. Bean has a tutorial on drying lettuce). If you like bread, Take some. I often add a small piece of garlic bread. Garlic = 💚
(Bonus) The Game
Take a dice, or just get a ‘dematerialized’ dice website. Keep a bowl ready and the dice will tell you what to eat. !Voila!
Start with Greens. Dice rolls give us 1. So, this is going to be an iceberg salad. You can roll more, to add more leaves.
Add Olive Oil on the top. Now, Dice roll : It is a 6. So, we are deciding the surprise already. Now roll the dice again. Its a 2. We need a Siracha Mayo. Oooh! Spicy.
Dice roll — 5. Ignore
Dice roll — 3. Time to add color. Dice Roll — 2. Some carrots on top.
Dice roll — 2 —> 4 Olives in our salad
Dice roll — 3 —> 2 some corn
Dice roll — 1 —> 5 Wasabi peanuts
… Keep the game on until you win with your new salad creation.
Here is a picture of the output from last time :)
I hope this game makes you love salads or make you hate them less. Feel free to experiment. If you have feedback, I am @rohit7gupta on twitter. Send pictures!
Cheers to our bowls and their movements.
PS: The use of words – framework, tool, game, and method is entirely non-technical. It is just that design people use them so much and I thought it would be a nice pun :-)