korean-style russian carrot salad

before you say anything, i know.  it sounds like quite a mash-up of cultures already.  but trust me, if you ever make this salad for a russian, it’ll give them a taste of home.  this salad can be found as a side dish in a smattering of countries all across eastern europe and asia, and is especially popular in kyrgyz cuisine.

you’ll need:

  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • garlic
  • sugar
  • ground coriander
  • hot pepper
  • half an onion
  • vinegar
  • vegetable oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  1. mince the onion.  it doesn’t have to be super fine, but make sure that there are no large pieces or they will ruin the texture of the salad.  add some vegetable oil to a frying pan, and sautee them until tender and translucent.  set them aside, preferably covered and in the fridge.
  2. cut the ends of your carrots and peel.  here, you have some options.  if you want a softer salad, run the carrots along their long side across a fine grater.  if you want a crunchier salad, julienne the carrots with a sharp knife.  the strips should not be too thick.  when you lift them, they should bend ever so slightly.  add your carrots to a mixing bowl.
  3. peel the garlic and mince.  i prefer to have the garlic a little bit course, but most people call for it to be minced until it reaches pretty close to a paste.  add it in with your carrots.
  4. add in your sautéed onions, which should be chilled by now.
  5. season.  put in some vegetable oil and vinegar.  add a little tiny bit of sugar.  carrots have plenty of sugar, so don’t overdo it or the flavor of the salad will be too sweet.  next, add black pepper and your hot pepper.  cayenne works well here, but chinese hot pepper can be substituted.  i know you have been grinding your teeth in anticipation, so go ahead and give it a nice healthy dash of coriander.  last, add your salt.  toss with a spoon, and be careful not to bust up the carrots too much.
  6. remember, more than anything, the goal of seasoning is to balance the flavors.  which means that sugar should be scarce, coriander and hot pepper should be liberal, and salt and pepper should be to taste.  the flavor profile of this salad is sour, spicy, and savory.  keep that in mind.
  7. this salad is good lukewarm, but it is really tasty chilled.  you can always cover it with some saran wrap and put it in the fridge, but because of the vinegar content it’ll get a little too soggy after a day or two.

goes excellent with:

vodka.  are you surprised?  then you weren’t paying attention.  go read the intro to this recipe again.

green olives.  want a russian lunch that will make you feel like you can take on the world single-handedly?  heavily toasted black bread, green olives, and this salad.  light and filling, chock full of vitamins, and friendly on the wallet.  can’t beat that.

pelmeni.  russian meat dumpling served in a chicken stock and topped with sour cream.  if that didn’t sound good enough already, serve your guest this salad and some sausages while they are waiting, and will have to be careful that your floor doesn’t collapse under the weight of their food and satisfaction.

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