One way to perfect a dish is to showcase all 5 “tastes” – salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami (which refers to a type of fermented taste). When you use all 5 tastes this sometimes makes for a delicious “symphony” of flavors, but if the dish is out of balance the flavors could quickly turn into a muddled cacophony instead.
I put this recipe together while I was trying to make a very fancy fish course. I was trying to impress a few special Shabbos guests, and it turned out I was low on fish – I had one can of anchovies in the house. You might ask, how can you make 1 can of anchovies stretch for 8 people? Make it into a dressing! We had apples and avocados – and then I garnished it with some very thin julienned red pepper and a small floret of parsley.
Although I wasn’t originally trying to make this salad have all 5 tastes – it does. The salt is the “saltiness”, the apples the “sweetness”, the lemon the “sourness”, the mustard the “bitterness”, the anchovies the “umami” – (the 5th type of taste that was “discovered” in 2000 – although this type of taste was well known in Asian cooking circles for years – the fermentation of the anchovies provides this taste in this dish) and as an added bonus the avocados provide a richness. This salad is an explosion of flavor. I put the salad on a chinese soup spoon so you get one bite as an “amuse bouche.” However, you can also provide this salad in a small fruit bowl. Because of the intensity of flavors I would not recommend giving a huge portion to each person.
The salad was a raving success. Our guests were impressed and very much enjoyed it. It is simple to put together and the ingredients are often on hand. Please enjoy it and let me know how turns out.
- 1 can of anchovies with oil
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- Juice of a large lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 Honey crisp apple – cored and diced small with peel on (adds color to the salad)
- 3 avocados – ripe but not mushy – peeled and deseeded – diced large
Make the dressing, by mixing all the ingredients by hand in a bowl. Then dice the avocado and apples. Then toss the avocado and apples with 1-2 tablespoons of the dressing. Start with 1 tablespoon and see if it covers all of the fruit. You will have some dressing left over – you could save that for another dish. Serving portion is from 2 tablespoons (an amuse bouche) to 1/3 of a cup. Try to eat it all, because it won’t last for the next day (the avocados turn color and the salad will turn runny).
Bracha Shor is the co-owner of Sweet and Good Catering. They specialize in kosher gourmet exotic foods and you can contact Bracha at firstname.lastname@example.org.