Teriyaki Lettuce Cups
another way to eat salad while calling it not salad
things you’ll need: teriyaki sauce*, a protein, shredded/diced/julienned veggies, and butter or bib lettuce (best for cupping, wrapping, and being about the size of your hand).
*a quick note on Teriyaki: according to the internet, the Japanese root word “Yaki” means broiled or cooked over direct heat and “Teri” refers to the luster of the sauce (“tare”), due to the sugar content. Traditionally it’s defined by soy sauce, mirin/sake, and some form of sugar. It can be thickened with cornstarch and may contain sesame, ginger, garlic, pineapple juice, so on and so forth. Like BBQ, it’s a cooking style and a flavor profile with many permutations. You can make your own, coaxing the flavors into the shape of your preferred palate or you can grab a bottle off the shelf.
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I was given a bottle of teriyaki sauce from someone’s cabinet because I cook and they didn’t want it. This happens to me not infrequently. The carrots and radishes were gifted from a friend at Caretaker Farm in Williamstown, MA and I smuggled them back home in my carry-on. This happens less often than I’d like.
My preferred brand (and on-brand choice) of bottled teriyaki is Soy Vey. This is not an endorsement. The pun compels me and, since I do not often buy bottled teriyaki, I have little idea what any other brand tastes like. Buy or make whatever you like. The sauce I used for the picture was way glossier, undoubtedly thickened with cornstarch, and much higher in sugar.
incidentally gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan (depending on your teriyaki sauce and protein choices)
As firmly established, time is a construct and Daylight Savings is little more than a prank you fall (or spring) for every year, twice a year. In celebration of this bizarre practice, we spend the whole day wondering what time it is and show up late or early because the clocks don’t match. It’s maybe the most confusing herald of the seasons to come.
There are plenty of tangible shifts that call the time of year into focus without having to remember how to reset the clock on your stove. You’ve spotted the first blooms and birds in your neighborhood. Maybe you’ve sprouted a few things yourself and have been enjoying the turn from trying into doing. The long wait of winter begins to feel like time already spent and you start to crave giant mounds of mostly raw vegetables, as though they fill you with a desire to be outside and doing things.
So much more than a side dish, vegetables become your primary reason for eating and the produce section begins to look like one big salad bar. In your mind, salad is also a construct that can be loosely applied to any raw (or not raw) vegetables (and/or protein/grains) served cold (or not) with a dressing (or sauce).
Sauce a delicious protein, throw it all on top of some shredded veggies, wrap it up with a cup-shaped lettuce leaf, and you don’t even need utensils. Just shovel the neat fistfuls of veggies directly into your face.
The sauce might be peanut-based or whipped up from the available dairy. Maybe you blend up some avocados or cashews and pretend the sauce is dairy. Maybe you save yourself the time and dishes and just crack open the bottle of teriyaki in the cabinet.
Marinate a protein in Teriyaki for as long as you have the patience. If you are full of foresight, marinate overnight or start it in the morning. Grill/broil/bake your protein, brushing it occasionally with additional sauce, and set aside (alternately, make a bigger batch of lightly seasoned protein for additional meal prep and sauce it later).
Peel individual leaves from a head of butter or bibb lettuce because it has the best cup shape and tenderness for effective wrapping and face shoveling. Give each leaf-cup a gentle washing and lay them out on a kitchen towel to dry.
Shred/julienne/mandoline many vegetables: carrots, radishes, bell peppers, cucumbers, snap peas, or whatever calls to you from the crisper (consider kohlrabi, jicama, asparagus, avocado, peas, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, and/or mushrooms).
Once your protein is cooked, assemble your cup full of raw and shredded veggies, top it with chopped protein, and dribble with more sauce. Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, cashews, or whatever additional crunch you crave.
Switch up your proteins, veggies, and dressings for a variety of meal-prep permutations, all resembling a salad that is also a wrap and could, under certain circumstances, be construed as a taco.
Other meals mostly comprised of veggies and a sauce:
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