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For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.
Today: A seaweed salad that is just as good -- if not better -- than the one you scarfed down at the airport between flights.
It is usually in a weakened state, defenses down and temper at the ready, that I have revelatory eating experiences. I understand what’s at work when that happens. I get that one thing serves the other: The toast is not transcendent toast -- it is regular toast and I am just famished; the In-N-Out hamburger is literally identical to every other one I’ve ever eaten -- it only feels particularly glorious after I’ve been stuck in an overstuffed road trip car for 7 hours. Once, after waiting a LONG time for a bowl of totally decent and very normal pasta alla norma, I announced that it was the best Italian food I'd ever consumed in my life and that the restaurant was my new favorite.
"That is not true," said my dining companion, gesticulating at me with his fork. "Hungry is just a good cook."
I submit an amendment to this aphorism to you today, and that amendment is called, “Layover is also a good cook.” There is so much badness to be consumed in an airport that the discovery of anything halfway delicious is cause for celebration. Last month in LAX, on a long layover before an even longer flight, I found what I thought at the time was a luminous, history-making seaweed salad. It walked the slimy line right down the middle, like any good sea vegetable knows how to do, and was studded with cucumber and strips of kale. I scarfed it down while sitting on the floor in front of the only available outlet, and then I did the little praise hands Emoji and thought, "This mess is gold. I hope I’m not making this up."
And guess what? I wasn’t. Craving a little of that terminal gem, I tried my best to recreate it in my kitchen, and to grand results. It's the kind of salad that felt good in the airport because my body was feeling so sluggish, which is why it also feels perfect in the middle of a lazy Sunday: It’s like a pick-me-up that starts on the inside, setting you right.
For the salad:
1/2 ounce dried wakame seaweed, cut or uncut (available in most heath/specialty food stores and for sure your local Japanese market)
1 cup kale sliced into ribbons
1 small cucumber, julienned
For the dressing:
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Photos by Mark Weinberg