In Philadelphia, there is a huge Russian supermarket. You can find anything the Russian heart desires here – from pickles to traditional sweets. The first time I came to this market, my eyes widened like a child. I bought everything I possibly try, and this salad, labeled “Magic Carrots” became a particular favorite of mine. Philly being more than an hour away from us, and these trips being more difficult with small children, I decided I had to figure out how to make this recipe myself, coming as close to the original as possible.
My friend Stella and I carefully tasted the dressing to try to figure out what the ingredients were. We decided: mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic, sea salt, white pepper, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar. It’s important to toast the mustard seeds in a pan until they start to hop around the pan and smell toasty, then grind them with a mortar and pestle with the garlic and other dry ingredients into a thick paste. The paste is then stirred with the oil and vinegar for the dressing. The carrots have to be put through a spiralizer, ideally, or failing that, julienned in very narrow strips. I prefer the spiralized version – it looks like spaghetti.
The salad tastes the best when it’s been sitting out for a while at room temperature before serving. You should be able to keep it for a fairly long time in the refrigerator, but at our house it never lasts longer than 2-3 days.
Here is the recipie:
2-3 large, thick carrots
1 garlic clove
1 tsp course salt
½ Tbsp mustard seeds
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sesame oil*
- Peel the carrots and using a spiralizer tool, cut them into “spaghetti.” The carrot spaghetti can be cut somewhat shorter if the strips are very long, to make it easier to eat. Put to the side.
- Roast the mustard seeds in a pan without any oil until they begin to smell aromatic and hop around the pan.
- Take the toasted mustard seeds, salt, garlic, and pepper flakes, and grind them into a thick paste with your mortar and pestle. Add the vinegar, oil, and white pepper and stir.
- Stir the dressing with the carrot spaghetti and leave overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
This salad is great to make ahead and bring along to a grill party or as a side dish for fondue or raclette.
* I don’t recommend substituting another type of oil – it will really alter the intended flavor of the salad.
Have fun trying this one! I can’t wait to see your comments!