Bold ingredients from around the world turn otherwise simple salads into big-flavor meals hearty enough to serve as a light weeknight main course. In Vietnam’s “shaking beef,” strips of soy-marinated meat are seared and set atop peppery fresh watercress, which comes tossed in umami-rich fish sauce and tart lime juice. For a savory chicken salad with a twist, we dress crunchy shredded red cabbage with rich Japanese miso and fresh cilantro. And in Scandinavia, cooks create a hearty summer salad from potatoes, smoked trout, and punchy horseradish.
Chicken Salad With Red Cabbage and Miso
Makes 4 servings
For this simple chicken salad, miso (or soy sauce) lends savory depth to the dressing, while red cabbage adds both crunch and color. For ease, use a store-bought rotisserie chicken; it will yield enough shredded meat for this recipe. Pile the salad onto greens or a bowl of warm rice. This recipe can easily be scaled up or down.
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
5 teaspoons white miso or soy sauce
5 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar or chili-garlic sauce
4 teaspoons neutral oil
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1½ cups lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped, or 4 scallions, thinly sliced
Toasted sesame seeds or a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, optional, for garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, miso, vinegar, and oil. Add the chicken, cabbage, and cilantro, then toss. Season with salt. Serve at room temperature or cover, refrigerate, and serve chilled. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds or a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, if using.
Potato Salad and Smoked Trout With Horseradish and Chives
Makes 6 servings
Scandinavians frequently combine potent smoked fish and mild, creamy potatoes. We find a modest amount of sour cream both binds the salad and adds a tanginess that, along with the horseradish, works well with the salty richness of smoked trout. Up the horseradish if you like.
Tossing the potatoes with vinegar, salt, and pepper immediately after draining lets them soak in the seasonings as they cool so that they’re flavorful throughout. Don’t dress the potatoes until they’ve cooled to the point of barely warm to the touch. If they’re hot, they’ll cause the dressing to break.
Serve the salad on a bed of watercress, lettuce, or your favorite greens.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for a couple days; bring to room temperature before serving.
2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
6 medium radishes, halved and thinly sliced
5 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces smoked trout, skin discarded, broken into small flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, divided
In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt, then add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce to medium-low heat and simmer until a knife inserted into the largest piece meets no resistance, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the radishes, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the remaining vinegar, the sour cream, horseradish, oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
When the potatoes are done, drain in a colander, then spread in an even layer in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, until barely warm, about 20 minutes.
Add the cooled potatoes to the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Drain the radishes, discarding the liquid. Fold in the radishes, smoked trout, dill, and 4 tablespoons of the chives. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chives.
Vietnamese Shaking Beef (Bo Luc Lac)
Makes 4 servings
The name of this Vietnamese dish refers to the way cooks shake the pan while cooking. We prefer to minimize the movement, searing the beef to build flavor. Sirloin tips or tri-tip are excellent cuts for this recipe — both are meaty, tender, and reasonably priced (many recipes call for pricier beef tenderloin). If you can find baby watercress, use a 4-ounce container in place of the regular watercress; baby cress has a particularly peppery bite that pairs well with the beef. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
The pieces of beef need to be cut no smaller than 1½ inches or they may overcook. And don’t forget the lime wedges for serving — a squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the other flavors.
1½ pounds beef sirloin tips or tri-tip, trimmed, patted dry, and cut into 1½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 tablespoons lime juice, divided, plus lime wedges, to serve
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons grape-seed or other neutral oil, divided
8 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small red onion, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 bunch watercress, stemmed
In a medium bowl, toss the beef with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce and ½ teaspoon pepper. In a small bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons of the lime juice, the fish sauce, the sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until barely smoking. Swirl to coat the pan, then add the beef in a single layer. Cook without stirring until well browned, about 1½ minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, 1½ minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
To the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until fragrant and the garlic is no longer raw, about 30 seconds. Pour in the lime juice mixture and any accumulated meat juices (don’t add the meat), increase to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, until the spoon leaves a trail when dragged across the skillet, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the beef and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce clings lightly to the meat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and stir until slightly softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
In a bowl, toss the watercress with the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Make a bed of the watercress on a serving platter. Top with the beef mixture and its juices. Serve with lime wedges.
Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.