As the weather warms up it means one thing. Cockroaches. I bet you thought I was going to say something food related, right? Well, I’ll get to that, but for now we’re going to talk about cockroaches. Foul little critters, they are. Spiders? Meh. Snakes? What’s the big deal? Cockroaches? I’m cool as a cucumber, of course. Ahem. While my sister has a minor breakdown in the corner over the one hiding in our vanity cupboard, I’m pretending to be all calm and collected. Upholding the image of a responsible older sister, rather than someone who wants to shriek and flap their arms like a little girl (what I actually want to do). I think it’s something to do with their hairy legs and their shell (I have nightmares about crunching down on one in my salad) and their feelers, all twitchy and wavy in the air. And they move fast. And jump. Some even fly. And sometimes, I swear they run straight at you. Cockroaches are sneaky little devils.
The other night we had a super roach in the bathroom. It was ginormous. The mother of all cockroaches. Obviously if either of us wanted to sleep that night we had to get it out. After a few weeks of hot weather we’ve formulated a well-rehearsed plan. We took our places. Game on. But this particular critter refused to cooperate. It was either training to be the next Usain Bolt of cockroaches or was on steroids. Possibly both. It was fast. Damn fast. And those feelers were far too big to be considered normal. I’m ashamed to admit that there was plenty of hopping around and squealing as we tried to trap the roach in a plastic container. In hindsight it probably would have been easier to chase it out the door – it was hurtling in that direction anyway. Long story short? We finally maneuvered the thing outside, both flinching every time we felt (or thought we felt) something brush our legs. (I must point out here that we actually aren’t that pathetic all the time – this was an exception to the norm. Ok? Glad we cleared that up.)
What we really needed after that particular episode was something cool and refreshing. To calm the nerves. This broccoli salad would have done the trick nicely. Crisp and crunchy broccoli florets with pak choi, soaked in a sharp dressing. Sweet, sour rice vinegar meets salty soy sauce (I actually use Bragg in place of soy sauce in most recipes, but both work fine here). And a trio of nuts and seeds, because I impulsively add them to all salads. There’s no harm in that though, is there?
Serve as a side, part of a mezze or add to other salads during the week for an extra burst of flavour. Chocolate brownies? Nuh-uh. Here’s a healthy solution to your hot, flustered cockroach woes – if nothing else it’ll give you a nutrient boost to help you fight the blighters.
Broccoli Salad with Asian Style Dressing
Serves 4-6 (as a side).
300g Broccoli (about 1 small head), rinsed & cut into small florets
100g Pak Choi (1 ‘cluster’), leaves pulled apart & rinsed
½ tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
Pinch white sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg, plus extra for serving
2 tsp brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 tsp toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted
1 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
Freshly ground black pepper
Boil or steam the broccoli florets for 4 minutes or until just beginning to go tender. Meanwhile, cut the ‘stalky’ parts of the pak choi into roughly 2cm pieces. Thinly shred the leaves. Add to the pot of broccoli and cook for a further minute.
Tip into a colander and leave to rest for about five minutes (this allows some of the moisture to escape in the form of steam). We don’t want soggy broccoli!
In the meantime make your dressing – combine the garlic, ginger and sugar in a small bowl to form a paste. Whisk in the soy sauce/Bragg, rice vinegar and sesame oil.
Transfer the still warm broccoli & pak choi to a mixing bowl and toss with the dressing. Set aside (don’t cover as this will trap any remaining steam) and leave to cool to room temperature (about 1.5 hours).
When cooled stir through the toasted sesame seeds, pepitas and slivered almonds. Season with a good grind of black pepper and serve with extra soy sauce/Bragg on the side (I find that everyone has their own ‘salty’ threshold!)
Source: Adapted from River Cottage Veg Every Day.