I absolutely love Mediterranean food. I love Mediterranean salad. I love Mediterranean ingredients. Fresh, beautiful flavors. Bright colors. Healthy. I’m still surprised that this cuisine isn’t more popular in Japan. It’s very seafood-centric, and it emphasizes the use of natural ingredients and natural, local flavors. Cilantro is slowly (we’re talking glacial pace here) gaining popularity in Tokyo. I’m seeing larger and larger amounts of it stocked on shelves in my local supermarkets. Oftentimes the stuff is sold out entirely (I will be growing my own this year in an effort to combat what will surely be a Great Summer Cilantro Shortage).
This dish is vegetarian and vegan friendly, and only takes around 30 minutes to prepare (the time it takes to cook the bulgur). Though the lovely recipe I used to make this dish said to cook the bulgur with boiling water in a large bowl, I had to toss mine back in a pot for a few minutes to cook it completely. Legend has it you can also cook this stuff in a rice cooker, but I have yet to make the attempt (THIS STUFF IS EXPENSIVE HERE). Other ingredients pictured here are chickpeas, red onion (after a 10 minute cold water bath to remove the bite), red pepper, parsley, cucumber, and minced garlic. Spices include parsley, sugar, cumin, salt, pepper, and dill (I’d love to get this stuff fresh, but I had a ton of dried dill weed sitting around, so in it went).
Just mixing it all together is an exciting process. Lemon juice and olive oil added to finish things off. Turning over all the ingredients releases some amazing scents. The smells of the spices and the freshness of all the chopped veggies made me desperate for a summer evening with good friends. This is the kind of thing I want to share and enjoy over white wine on one of those stupidly humid summer nights Japan is so well known for. I think it could potentially be a big hit…provided company is cilantro-friendly. Highly recommended. Give it a try if you’ve been postponing your own Mediterranean salad experience. You may never look back.
Just beautiful, isn’t it? Food is amazing.
RECIPE: Once Upon a Chef