This recipe is a best guess at one of my favorite salads from Delica, a Japanese deli located in the Ferry Building. I was going for crispy bright green beans covered in a nutty, salty, sweet and tangy dressing. I think I came pretty darn close.
Creamy Sesame Green Bean Salad (serves 4 as a side salad)
1/2 lb. green beans
If using tiny haricot vert you can leave them whole. If using larger beans I think it’s nice to cut them in half and split them to make them easier to eat. You could also use a green bean Frencher. A salad isn’t something you should have to cut with a knife and putting a whole green bean in your mouth is just asking for dressing all over the face.
1 carrot, grated (optional)–Delica’s salad has grated carrot which is something I forgot when making and photographing the salad. It is good with or without the carrot.
For the dressing:
1 heaping Tbsp. (15ml) shallots, minced
1 teaspoon (5ml) sesame oil
Pinch or two of red pepper flakes, depending on how much spice you’d like (optional)
2 Tbsp. (30ml) sesame paste (tahini)–you could also use Chinese sesame paste if you can find it, which is made with toasted sesame seeds and will lend a deeper flavor, but I found the tahini worked just fine and is much easier to find
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
1 teaspoon (15ml) tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon (15ml) sugar
1 Tbsp. (15ml) mayonnaise (optional)
1 Tbsp. (15ml) sesame seeds for garnish
Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, shaking often to keep them from burning. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and the green beans. Cook cut and split beans for 90 seconds, whole beans for 3 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse with cold water until completely cool or drop in an ice bath. If you cook the beans for too long or don’t cool them down they won’t retain a bright green color.
Cook the shallots and red pepper flakes in the sesame oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the shallots are translucent, fragrant and starting to color. Take off the heat and let cool.
Blend the shallots/pepper, sesame paste, vinegar, tamari and sugar until smooth.
Pat the cooled beans with a paper towel to remove any excess water.
Toss the beans with the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you want a creamier, softer flavor, add the mayonnaise.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. This salad is best the day it’s made. If you need to make things ahead, keep the cooked beans and dressing separate, and toss them together at the last minute.