Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chinese Chop Salad w/ Edamame: Because money doesn't grow on my limbs

I'm the first to admit my weakness when it comes to spending money on food. In the past couple months, my reckless expenditures have included $12 artisanal chocolate truffles from Compartes, a $7 medium pomegranate Pinkberry yogurt, $6 organic eggs from New Zealand (an accident, I swear!), and $30 doughnuts/a glass of wine at Grace Restaurant.

The tallies are disgusting even to me, a girl who grew up in Newport Beach and was a first-hand witness to the car show that was my high school's parking lot. Given my considerably less glamourous upbringing on the side of town that is not two seconds from the beach (and a private yacht), I was appalled by my Coach-toting, Chanel-sunglass wearing peers' indulgent use of their parents' credit cards.

Today, as a full-fledged "adult" with my own bank account and credit card, I have become slightly less discriminating about my card swipes when it comes to feeding the beast that is my stomach. When I'm hungry, the beast does not understand the meaning of the word "no." Nor does it understand the phrase "fiscal responsibility."

This past weekend, even though I gawked at the price of the $17 Chinese Chicken Salad at Cafe R+D, I still decided to order it anyway. While I don't eat out enough for this to be a major problem (I limit myself to 2-3 times a week), it still requires some pausation on my part. Habits are really easy to form, and really hard to break.

In order to counter balance the slutty behavior of my credit card when it is in the proximity of food (or an Anthropologie), I've developed the good habit of recreating my favorite restaurant dishes at home. This past Saturday, I endeavored to recreate a version of the $17 R+D salad by using edamame instead of chicken for a less costly and more hip-friendly protein.

While the taste was not quite as crack-like as the salad my mom and I enjoyed the previous day (I suspect the drug-like properties are responsible for the inflated price tag), it was still delicious. My homemade peanut sesame dressing, fresh cilantro, and crunchy cashews and slivered almonds livened up the humble veggies and chow mein noodles to a level that even my dad found enjoyable. It's the perfect light summer lunch for a "cleanse" day. Or, in my case, for a day when there will be BBQ chicken and shrimp, orzo salad, curry rice salad, corn on the cob, and two pieces of blueberry pie (with ice cream) for dinner.

Chinese Chop Salad w/ Edamame and Peanut Sesame Dressing
Inspired by Chinese Chicken Chopped Salad at Cafe R+D
Serves 2

2 ounces chow mein noodles (I used Annie Chun's)
1/2 cup red pepper, sliced
1/3 cup carrots, sliced thin
2 green onions, sliced diagonally
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup shelled edamame, cooked
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons whole cashews
1 cup green cabbage, chopped (reserve outside shells for serving)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds, optional

Peanut Sesame Dressing
1 heaping tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
Juice from 1/4 a lime
Pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Set aside to allow flavors to blend.

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and cool immediately by running under cold water (to speed up the cooling process toss a few ice cubes into the collender).

Combine salad ingredients, noodles together in a bowl. Toss with dressing and then serve in reserved cabbage leaves. Garnish with optional sesame seeds.


Jenn said...

I know what you mean about prices of certain dishes. Sometiems I can't resist.

I need to get me some edamame. I used to eat that constantly as a snack. I think a grocery trip is in order. I like that dressing, too!!

finsmom said...

I can't get enough edamame - so tasty and healthy!
Great dish!

Esi said...

Looks like a good "cleanse day" salad to me!

Alessandra said...

I am so glad you posted this! I was so jealous over your delicious-looking salad, and I had already added that restaurant to the list of places I want to go next time I visit you... (Mozza is definitely still at the top of the list, though!)

Ashley said...

Yum. Let's go get the real thing when I move in! I saw the one in Santa Monica when I was exploring.

Diana said...

Jenn - When I was in high school I'd go through practically a bag a day as an after school snack. Sooo addicting!

Fin's Mom - I'm the same way! My friend and I devoured the bowl of edamame at the sushi restaurant we went to last night.

Esi - Yep, it certainly was a "cleanse" salad! Felt very... healthy after. :)

Ali - I can't wait for you to visit again so we can eat! You think you could handle the peanut flavor in the salad?

Ashley - Done and DONE! We'll get salads there and then high-tail it over to Huckleberry for some salted caramels!

Gastronomer said...

Now, That's my girl!

Reeni♥ said...

Great re-creation! Love it with edamame!

Pearl said...

credit card guilt does not apply to a hungry stomach.
enjoy :)

Kirby! said...

UM, so you know how I am trying to save money this summer? And during the year, I am always like, "uhh where'd all my money go???" I figured out I seriously spend it all on eating out. I haven't eaten out once in the past two weeks, and I have managed to live on $30 a week. So THAT'S where all my cash was going!!!

And Chinese chopped salads are great to make at home... edamame on salad is genius.

yutjangsah said...

you are making my typing teacher proud. and everything eventually goes on sale at anthropologie - shoes, clothes, home decor, etc. etc. that store is dangerous.

H. C. said...

sounds like a perfect balanced [budget] recipe to me! And totally feel you on over-spending money I don't have; what am I? California... OH WAIT

Elra said...

now Elra want to take a bite of this delicious sounding salad. Bookmark!

Chrystal & said...

We've been eating out muuuuuch less. Almost not at all. It's nice to treat yourself, but we think making it tastes and feels better. This is a good one. Hope you have lots of inspiration from the movie last night! :)