Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Recipe: Buddha's Hand Salad with Emulsified Vinaigrette

For tonight's feast, I crocked a chicken with mushrooms and potatoes. I also tried out my new spice blend, Mushroom Truffle Hunt. So, so much better than MSG in processed food! We baked a couple of acorn squash and creamed them.

I made a salad that was tail-wagging good even for this carnivore. I thought I could make it work, but wasn't expecting it to turn out this good. My earlier attempts at vinaigrette were marginal, but this is fantastic. \o/

"Buddha's Hand Emulsified Vinaigrette"

2 tablespoons (about 2 fingers) Buddha's hand zest, minced
6 tablespoons full-flavored extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian jade green bamboo salt
1/4 teaspoon Muntok white peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil flakes


Choose a container for your salad dressing. I used a .6 oz (1 7/8" wide x 4" tall) glass herb jar with a wide mouth and screw-on lid. This was perfect because the dressing filled it almost full, with just enough space left to shake with. Any similar jar should work, just make sure the lid closes securely. You can also make the salad dressing in a bowl if you want to use a whisk or mixer to blend it.

Zest the Buddha's hand. Two fingers make about 2 tablespoons of zest, and the recipe is fairly flexible in this regard, so don't worry about exact measurements. To mince the zest, you can either use scissors in a bowl, or a chef knife on a cutting board. You need flake-sized pieces that will distribute in the dressing. Set aside.

Into your chosen container, pour 6 tablespoons full-flavored extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in that order. The oil helps the honey slide off the measuring spoon, and then the acids help clean off more of the honey.

In a mortar and pestle, grind together 1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian green bamboo salt and 1/4 teaspoon Muntok white peppercorns. Add to the dressing.

Shake thoroughly to emulsify. It took several minutes for me. The salad dressing should turn a pale creamy yellow. At this stage, taste your dressing. It should be mild, tangy, fruity, and slightly sweet. If the flavor seems way off, this is the best time to correct that by adding the opposite component. If it's too sour or not emulsifying properly, add more honey. If it's too sweet or too oily, add more apple cider vinegar.

Add 1/2 teaspoon sweet basil flakes. Shake thoroughly. Add 2 tablespoons minced Buddha's hand zest. Shake thoroughly.

Check your emulsion. You should now have a nice creamy salad dressing with green and yellow bits well distributed throughout. It should cling to a spoon or to salad leaves. Let it sit at room temperature before you use it. If that will be more than a few hours, you can put it in the refrigerator, but remember to give it time to warm up before use. Some of the ingredients may settle to the bottom if you leave it sitting for a long time, but nowhere near as fast as ordinary vinaigrette. If that happens, just shake it again. Use a spoon to drizzle it over salad greens.


Buddha's hand is a type of citrus fruit with an intense floral lemony aroma. It is bright yellow with weird "fingers" sticking out from the base. It is neither juicy nor bitter, but rather crisp, tangy, and slightly sweet. Look for a firm fruit that is about the size of your two hands; the little ones aren't worth the expense. It has a short season, usually just a few weeks in late fall or early winter, so grab it when you see it.

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing and is better than other types of olive oil. When you put olive oil in a dressing, you want the full-flavored kind, not the "light" flavorless kind. It should be golden or green and have an interesting flavor -- it can be nutty, sweet, tangy, fruity, etc. I use a mid-range olive oil that costs around $12-15. I can definitely taste the difference between that and $3 olive oil. I cannot taste the difference between that and $30 olive oil. Buy what you can appreciate. Don't scrimp. The ingredients determine the quality of the end result.

Honey comes in many types. I used wildflower honey from a friend's family apiary. You want a medium-to-light one for this recipe. Lemon blossom or linden honey would be great, but don't go darker than clover. Honey serves as an emulsifier, but you don't need much. I only used a ratio of 1 tablespoon honey to 2 tablespoons acid (apple cider vinegar and lemon juice) and 6 tablespoons oil, and it came out perfect.

Apple cider vinegar has a light, sweet-tart, very fruity taste. Try to find an organic live culture with the mother intact.

Jade green bamboo salt comes from Hawaii. (Don't confuse it with the Korean purple bamboo salt.) It has a pale green color and faint leafy flavor that goes well with herbs or green vegetables. If you can't find it, substitute sea salt or plain table salt.

Muntok white pepper comes from the same plant as black peppercorns, but has the outer coating rubbed off. It has a light, mild taste that goes well with delicate flavors. If you can't find any, use black pepper sparingly to avoid overwhelming the Buddha's hand.

This vinaigrette was designed to go with the Buddha's Hand Salad, which turned out quite well. But once I had made the dressing, I couldn't stop taste-testing it every time I shook the bottle. It's that good.

Alternative serving suggestion: Put a tablespoon of vinaigrette in a cup and fill the rest with vegetable or fruit sticks. Cucumber, apple, celery, or carrot should all go great with this. It's an easy appetizer at parties.

Calorie counts for main ingredients in the vinaigrette: olive oil is 120 calories per tablespoon, honey is 64, apple cider vinegar is 3.1, and lemon juice is 3. So that's around 106 calories/tablespoon for the salad dressing, and I literally put a tablespoon with it because the jar wouldn't pour well. It's toward the high end of average; some are massively higher, but there are plenty of lower ones you could use with the Buddha's hand salad mix.

* * *

"Buddha's Hand Salad"

half a cucumber, sliced and quartered (about 1 cup)
3 fingers of Buddha's hand, cut up (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 red apple, chopped (about 1 cup)
lemon juice
chopped cashews (about 1/8 cup)
1 batch of Buddha's Hand Emulsified Vinaigrette
1 package spring greens or other salad greens (about 16 ounces)


Slice half a cucumber, then cut the slices into bite-sized quarters. If you have a small cucumber, you can use the whole thing and just slice it. Set aside in its own bowl.

Cut up 3 fingers of Buddha's hand. I cut them off one at a time, slice off narrow strips, then cut those into half-inch strips. Where it has peel, dice instead because the flavor is stronger than the pith. Alternatively, you can use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons. Set aside in its own bowl.

Chop one red apple. I cut it into narrow wedges, stack two or three together, then cut across them and drop them in a bowl. Every few slices, shake a little lemon juice over the chunks. When you get about halfway through, fluff them with your fingers to distribute the lemon juice. This reduces the tendency of the apple to turn brown. At the end, taste a piece -- it should be sweet-tart. If you can't taste the lemon, add more until it tastes right.

If your cashews are whole, you'll need to chop them. Leave the pieces fairly big, about a third to half size. Put them in their own bowl and set aside.

Put your ingredients in one or two rows, whichever is comfortable for you. Then put your big salad bowl on the end. I work from left to right. Put one or two handfuls of spring mix in the salad bowl, enough to cover the bottom. Then sprinkle in some of the cucumber, Buddha's hand, and apple. Add a generous pinch of cashews. Repeat layers of leaves and chopped filling until you run out. Keep an eye on your ingredients and try to distribute them evenly. This is much easier to do by layering than by tossing, because if you move the ingredients around, the small heavy bits migrate to the bottom.

Serve the salad with a salad spoon and fork. Set the Buddha's hand dressing beside it, preferably with a spoon or honey dipper to drizzle it over the salad. If you just pour dressing in the bowl, 1) people can't choose how much they want, and 2) it tends to pool at the bottom.


Buddha's hand is a type of citrus fruit with an intense floral lemony aroma. It is bright yellow with weird "fingers" sticking out from the base. It is neither juicy nor bitter, but rather crisp, tangy, and slightly sweet. Look for a firm fruit that is about the size of your two hands; the little ones aren't worth the expense. It has a short season, usually just a few weeks in late fall or early winter, so grab it when you see it.

Spring mix can contain a wide range of baby greens. Typically most of it is red and green lettuces, some spinach, and a few other things for variety. It should have an interesting mix of colors and shapes with a relatively mild flavor. I had wanted to try a winter mix but nobody seems to make those.

This recipe produced a light, fresh salad with a tangy, fruity, slightly sweet flavor. It paired beautifully with the Buddha's Hand Emulsified Vinaigrette. I am neither a fan of salad nor of salad dressing, but this was delicious and everyone else loved it too.

Calorie count for ingredients: spring mix is 20 calories per 3 cups, Buddha's hand is 3 calories per 6 grams, one apple is 95 calories, a whole cucumber is 30 but the recipe used about half of one so 15, and cashews are 100 calories per 18 grams (about 13-14 whole, probably what I used here). So the easiest way to cut calories after the dressing is the cashews, and I wouldn't have missed them. You could also swap in baby spinach at 21 calories/3 cups. The key ingredient is the Buddha's hand. Tweak the amount up or down as you wish. If you grate it instead of chopping it, a little bit will spread out more.
Tags: food, recipe
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