Pressed salad is excellent for adding freshness to our meals, reducing sweet cravings and satisfying the need for a crunchy texture.  Spring is also the time when the liver is the most active and fresh, green vegetables are great for the liver. Add some lemon juice at the end to really give your liver a lift.

The technique for making this salad is similar to making sauerkraut. Typically, cabbage and other vegetables are sliced super thin and massaged with salt. A plate and a weight are placed on top and the salad will sit pressing for generally one to two hours. Other vegetables can be used depending on preference and season. Generally, heartier vegetables like head cabbage are more appropriate for cooler weather, while more tender vegetables like cucumber and lettuce are more appropriate in warmer weather. Use this recipe as a guide. A lot of people use cabbage as the base year round. For the example in the photos I have used nappa cabbage.

When I first learned to make this salad, I would end up with pressed salad that was dry and still seemed kind of raw. I learned that I needed to add enough sea salt or ume vinegar so moisture is drawn out and the vegetables get broken down. When it is finished, there should be some liquid to pour off the salad and some of the salt will go with it. If prepared well, the pressed salad should taste delicious, but not salty.

Pressed Salad

6 cups finely sliced cabbage
5 radishes, sliced very thin
1 carrot, finely grated
about 1 1/2 tsp ume vinegar

1.  Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Massage the ume vinegar into the vegetables. This is kind of a moderately gentle massage. Continue until the vegetables start turning limp and releasing a fair amount of liquid. If you massage for a minute or two and the vegetables still feel dry, add a little more ume vinegar.

2.  Find an appropriate bowl and plate combination. The plate should cover the top of most of the salad without it’s edges contacting the sides of the bowl when pressing. Add a weight on top of the plate, like a jar full of water or a large can.

3.  Let sit for 1 to 2 hours.

4.  Turn the bowl sideways while pressing on the plate to help the excess liquid drain out. Toss with a fork. Serve.

Note:  Nappa cabbage is a little more tender than head cabbage. It can be massaged and pressed for a little less time. Nappa cabbage can also release a lot of liquid. After draining it, add a little more ume vinegar to the finished product if necessary.

Other delicious combinations:
1:  cabbage, daikon radish, celery, cucumber, parsley
2:  cucumber, red radish, parsley
3:  cabbage, green apple, green onion