TheGreenTurnip Score: 7
What do you like to do on vacation? Do you prefer relaxation? Or maybe adventure?
I contemplated this question recently because I just returned from a trip with my parents and K. We were traveling for a family wedding and also birthday celebration.
How did we spend our vacation?
Well… the first morning after we arrived, we went grocery shopping. (Oh! Fun vacation times.) I know grocery shopping is not really an ordinary activity on vacation but one thing that we like to do together is cook and try new recipes. Since we had a beautiful vacation home with a fully equipped kitchen, we could make all of our meals during the trip.
As much as I like meal prep, it was a treat to enjoy freshly cooked meals.
Aside from cooking, we also went lap swimming in the mornings. (Yeah I know… also not really a typical vacation activity.) We found a gorgeous recently renovated pool walking distance from our house. One of the other swimmers at the pool asked if we were visiting from out of town and we explained that we were there for a wedding. When we showed up another morning at 7:30am to swim, he asked, “Are you really on… vacation?”
I guess, that’s just how my family seems to spend vacations – cooking, exercising, generally trying to be productive.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take a vacation and just laze around. And I do sometimes return from vacations feeling like I need a couple days to recover. Even so, I (mostly) enjoy our active approach to vacationing. This trip was wonderful. I enjoyed seeing my extended family and joining the celebrations.
A Better Way to Cut Carrots
K jumped right into all the swimming and cooking and family festivities. In the kitchen, he is an excellent cook and has taught me many things. For this recipe, I would especially recommend K’s technique for cutting carrots.
To make matchsticks, first slice the carrots thinly on a diagonal. Lay those slices flat on the cutting board and cut across to create thin matchstick shaped pieces. Quick and easy! I like that the slices sit flat on the cutting board, meaning that I am less likely to nick my fingers.
Spicy Carrot Kinpira Stirfy
This recipe is a twist on the classic “Kinpira Gobo.” The traditional version includes gobo along with carrot. This Spicy Carrot Kinpira salad uses just carrots, so it is easier to make. Gobo (burdock root) can be a little challenging to find unless you have a Japanese or Asian market nearby. Also I added a generous dash of red pepper flakes. The spicy heat balances the natural sweetness from the carrots.
Plus, the unusual addition of walnuts and peanuts nicely complements the nutty flavor of the sesame oil. (If you prefer even more nuttiness, I would recommend first toasting the walnuts and peanuts.) Another variation – if you have any, toss in a few green onions for color and flavor. Just thinly slice the green onions and add with the nuts.
This recipe makes enough for a week’s worth of small portions for 1 person (about 10 small portions).
Walnuts, 1/3 cup
Peanuts, 1/3 cup
Sake, 1 tablespoon
Soy Sauce, 1 ½ tablespoons
Mirin, 1 tablespoon
Sugar, 2 teaspoons
Sesame oil, 1 tablespoon
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
(2-3 green onions, optional)
- Slice the carrot into matchstick-sized pieces. Snap the walnuts into small pieces using your hands. Roughly chop the peanuts.
- In a pan, heat the sesame oil over medium heat, until fragrant. Cook the carrots for 2-3 minutes. Add the sake, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook stirring until the liquid reduces and is absorbed.
- Add the walnuts and peanuts. (Optional: Add green onions.) Stir to combine. Cover and store.
Adapted from “にんじんのナッツきんぴら” from “作り置きサラダ”.
Want to learn more about simple, Japanese-inspired weekly meal prep? Read “What is Make Now & Eat Later”…