|Seared Sesame Chicken and Miso Kale Salad|
It's not always clear why certain moments are forever imprinted at the forefront of our minds. And why many other seemingly important moments fade. I think, perhaps, it has something to do with novelty. A tone of voice, a color, a feeling—when we anticipate sameness and we get something poignantly NEW, we take note. We remember.
Unsurprisingly for me, memories surrounding food are some of the most poignant and unforgettable. One such meal is the inspiration for today's post.
In Atlantic Beach, Florida, there is a restaurant called Ragtime. In said restaurant almost 20 years ago, I experienced a Sesame Chicken Salad that rocked my world. This is no ordinary salad, people. For me, it redefined the concept of a salad. The chicken arrives in moist tender form, coated in sesame seeds and panfried to crunchy-bits heaven. Underneath the chicken is warm, wilted spinach tossed in a creamy miso vinaigrette, and the interplay of textures is truly addicting. As we enjoyed meals at Ragtime over the years, I never strayed from this salad.
The Ragtime tradition stopped when my brothers and I reached our teens and our limit for kid-centric restaurants. However, a few weeks ago, my mom and I happened by Ragtime on a trip to Jacksonville. The Sesame-chicken-memories came back, almost tactile in their strength. I thought it would be fun to recreate the salad with an LL Balanced spin, so he could share in the memory as well.
My version of this amazing salad is, of course, completely nutritious and perfect for a family-friendly weeknight meal. It has a few steps to it, but nothing is difficult, and it comes together quickly. Miso paste is simply a fermented form of soybeans and it has a incredibly delicious, savory umami flavor. If you cannot find it (check ethnic grocery sections), you could absolutely leave it out and add dijon mustard instead.
This was a total home-run, and the shallots bring the dish to another level, so don't skip that step! I chose to make a cold kale salad as the base instead of warm spinach a la the original, because it's more summery and keeps well in the fridge. I love how massaged/marinated kale gets better every day!
I hope you and your family can enjoy this healthy, delicious meal together and create your own memories around it. Bon Appetit!