Bento Filler: Fennel Salad (Fennel no Shiomomi)
This is such an easy recipe that it's barely a recipe at all, but it's very versatile and quick, so here it is. Fennel bulb has so much flavor on its own that you only need to add a minimal amount of seasonings to make a tasty salad. This method of massaging crunchy vegetables with salt is called shiomomi （塩揉み）in Japanese, and is very useful for making fibrous vegetables easier to eat without having to cook them.
Recipe: Extremely Quick Fennel Salad (Fennel no Shiomomi Ponzu ae)
- 1 large fennel bulb
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Ponzu or lemon juice
- Pepper (optional)
Cut the green parts off the fennel bulb (you can save them for soup). Cut the bulb in half, then slice very thinly. Sprinkle with salt. Massage the slices firmly with your hand until they are softened.
You can store this in the refrigerator, well covered, for 3-4 days like this if you like. When using, drain off any excess moisture, and sprinkle with a little bit of lemon juice or ponzu and optionally, black pepper.
Other vegetabes you can massage with salt (shiomomi)
- Shredded cabbage
- Thinly sliced daikon radish (mouli)
- Thinly sliced Japanese turnip (the small white kind), or larger Chinese turnip (Western turnip is a bit too woody)
- Thinly sliced celeriac
- Thinly sliced onion
- Cucumber, thinly slices or cut into chunks
- Cut up Chinese (napa) cabbage
- Tough outer leaves of cos or romaine lettuce
Just sprinkle a little salt on the vegetables, and scrunch them up well with your impeccably clean hands. Optionally add some dried chili pepper flakes for spiciness. You can eat the massaged vegetables immediately, or store it in the refrigerator for a few days. Shiomomi is closely related to instant pickles, but even easier since you are just relying on the inherent flavors of the vegetables you are using.