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Aya’s Kitchen: Whelk Salad with Shiso and Spring Onion

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Cooking is so much more enjoyable when you have good quality ingredients. In fact, there is nothing that annoys me more than shitty groceries. I just can’t be motivated to cook when I can’t get my hands on good produce, meat or seafood. That’s why I wake myself up early on Saturdays whenever I can (during the warmer months), to go to the farmers market at Union Square. Might seem a bit crazy to go at 8am on a Saturday but you get first pick by going first thing in the morning, and some items are very limited in supply. Local doesn’t necessarily mean good, but everything is much fresher, and I feel good supporting the local farms :p

A great find one morning were these whelks from PE & DD Seafood. Already picked out of their shells, making them fairly easy to work with. This was the first time I ever bought whelk, even though I had eaten them many times in Japan. They are quite slimy, so I gave them a quick wash under cold water before poaching them briefly in some dashi. Once they cooled down, I sliced them in half lengthwise.

I also got some amazingly sweet spring onions (not scallion but new onions- in Japan we call them “shin-tamanegi”) so I sliced them and tossed them with the whelk. I dressed them in some brown rice vinegar, dashi, soy sauce and a touch of mirin. Garnished with some beautiful shiso from Lani’s Farm and chive flowers from Windfall Farms.

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Super simple, but super good. But something like this can only be tasty if you have good quality, fresh ingredients!

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