Onion and Avocado Salad with Wasabi Dressing
When spring arrives, I jump at the opportunity to eat lots of spring vegetables like asparagus, radishes and ferns. Because it's really been a long time without them. But what I look forward to the most are vidalia onions. Some alliums (onion and garlic family), like ramps, are only available in the spring but most are available year round. Which is why I think it's often forgotten that they're seasonal. Onions are incredibly sweet in the spring and should be featured raw in as many dishes as possible (like last week's beef tataki and onion dish).
As a huge raw onion lover, I'm always looking for new ways to feature them. This was a recent addition that was so satisfying that even my wasabi-hating husband loved it. He was shocked when I told him the dressing heavily featured wasabi.
Slice up some onions using a sharp knife or a mandoline. I'm pretty confident with my knife skills but I still use a mandoline for this job because it's just so much faster. Be careful either way and if you're scared of the mandoline, there are many cut resistant gloves sold on Amazon. My favorite mandoline is the Benriner which is a no-fuss Japanese mandoline with very few moving parts (which means less to clean) and a super sharp blade for the thinnest slices. Peel, remove the pit, and dice up the avocado.
For the dressing, mix the kewpie mayonnaise, ponzu, and wasabi. There are some new ingredients here so I'll pause a bit. Feel free to skip if you are already familiar with all of these ingredients.
Ponzu is a soy sauce and citrus based sauce used often in Japanese homes as a dipping sauce for dumplings and hot pots. The best part about ponzu is that it's also steeped in katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and kombu (kelp), so it has a similar depth and umami that's in dashi. It's a staple in every Japanese home but not as ubiquitous as soy sauce in the states. It's easy to make yourself and will definitely taste better than store-bought (and my hero, Mark Bittman, has shared the recipe), but store-bought stuff is just as delicious in this recipe. And really, I'm all about making life in the kitchen easier. Ponzu is just asking to be made into a dressing with the acid and salt content, it just needs some fat. That's where the mayonnaise comes in (mayonnaise is essentially egg + oil).
Kewpie mayonnaise is my all-time favorite brand and I've tasted many recipes trying to recreate the flavor but they don't do it justice. My warming here is that it does contain MSG and if you can live with that, give Kewpie a try (if you start looking, you'll be surprised how many restaurants use Kewpie to enhance their dishes). It's silkier and yolkier than Hellman's and it's so good you'll want to eat it straight. It is significantly more expensive than Hellman's but I say it's worth it.
Wasabi, you've probably encountered when eating sushi. It's similar to horseradish (actually most of the wasabi you get in the tube is horseradish) so you can definitely use grated horseradish or you can go for the store-bought wasabi. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on real wasabi, I would imagine this dish would be even better.
In a large bowl, mix the onions, avocado, katsuobushi and the ponzu/mayo dressing. That's it! Garnish with some fresh katsuobushi and enjoy.