My daughter is in San Francisco having this life-changing salad, she calls it. The Tea leaf dressing will change your world. Tangy but not over-powering, just super-interesting.
Then she told me this neat story of clean-up and Buddha Shrines. On a corner in Oakland just east of Lake Merritt, At 11th and 19th there used to be a horrible amount of dumping and crime. Someone, Dan Stevenson put a Buddha there, without being even particularly religious, and then people started cleaning up around it, making it a little altar, and now look at it! At first the City rejected it, but the neighborhood wanted it so badly, the City acquiesed!
- 1 c. dried green tea leaves, loosely packed
- 1 c. kale or cabbage, finely chopped
- ½ c. finely chopped cilantro, loosely packed
- ½ c. green onions, finely chopped
- 1 T. garlic paste
- 2 T. finely chopped ginger root
- 2 green chilies, minced (optional)
- juice squeezed fresh from one lime
- generous pinch of salt
- 3 T. coconut oil
- 1 head garlic,minced
- 2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 T. roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup thin tomato wedges (optional)
- Final Dressing –
- 1 T. garlic oil
- 1 teaspoon Bragg’s aminos or fish sauce
- fresh lime slices
- pinch of salt
Fermenting the Tea Leaves
Pour 4 cups of hot water over the dried tea leaves, stir, and let soak until the leaves have expanded about 10 minutes. Then drain, and discard any tough bits. Squeeze out any remaining liquid from the leaves.. Do this two more times, then let sit an hour to remove the bitterness. Chop the leaves finely and mix together with the kale, cilantro and greens, ginger, garlic paste, salt and lime. . Cover the dish tightly and allow it to ferment for two days in a dark, cool space. Then place in the fridge.
To serve, set a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and let them heat, shaking the skillet from time to time to ensure that they aren’t scorching. You will start to smell them toasting after a few minutes. Keep stirring so they don’t scorch, and cook for another minute or two, until they are golden. Transfer to a dinner plate and let cool completely. Next, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the sliced garlic, reduce the heat to medium and fry until just golden, about 5 minutes. Lift the garlic out of the oil with a slotted utensil and set aside on a plate to crisp up. Save the oil, now flavored with garlic, to use in the final dressing.
Serve the salad unmixed, arranging small piles of all the ingredients on a platter. Toss the fermented tea leaves with the reserved garlic oil, fish sauce, and lime juice .Add a generous pinch of salt, mix again, taste and adjust other seasonings if needed. Place the leaves in a neat pile in the center of the other crunchy mix-ins.
Word of the Day – altar-altar, Buddha -Buda
Tip of the Day – You can add dried shrimp, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained, if you like.