Did you know May is National Salad Month? We know that Caesar salad might just be the best-known salad in the world. Top Chef runner-up Shirley Chung brings a progressive Chinese twist to the traditional Caesar by grating salt-cured duck eggs as a non-dairy substitute for Parmesan cheese.
Don’t be intimidated by this niche ingredient. Salt-cured duck eggs are duck eggs preserved in salt (making their expiration date rather impressive). You can find them at most Asian markets such as 99 Ranch.
WHAT YOU NEED
For the Lime Dressing:
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
For the Herb Bread Crumbs:
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp chopped chives
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro stems
- 1 lime for zest
For the Salad:
- 4 heads little gem lettuce (or 2 heads romaine lettuce)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 2 salt-cured duck eggs (can substitute hard-boiled eggs)
WHAT YOU DO
- For the dressing: combine the lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, agave, Dijon, canola oil and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk well. The dressing has fresh juice, so it will last for 3 days in the refrigerator.
- For the bread crumbs: eat up a small saute pan over medium heat. Put all of the bread crumbs in the warm pan, toss with the sesame oil and continue to toss and cook until the bread crumbs are hot. Make sure you don’t overtoast them; the bread crumbs should not turn brown. After about 30 seconds of cooking, remove the pan from the heat and mix in the chives and cilantro stems. Use a microplane to zest the lime into the pan. Toss and mix well. Let the bread crumbs cool down before using.
- For the salad: wash and dry the lettuce and separate the leaves. In a large salad bowl, place all the cleaned lettuce leaves in the middle of the bowl. Season with salt and black pepper, drizzle the lime dressing on the walls of the bowl and gently fold the dressing onto the leaves, making sure all the leaves are evenly dressed with the lime dressing. Peel the cooked salt-cured duck eggs.
- To assemble: on a large serving plate, put one layer of the dressed lettuce on the bottom of the plate. Sprinkle on a layer of the bread crumbs, and use a microplane to zest some salted egg on top. Repeat each step to build this salad into 3 layers.