Continuing on with our tahini theme, today we combine this rich sesame paste with umeboshi. Described as the least sweet fruit, I consider ume a best-kept culinary secret. Tangy, salty, with a deep fruit essence, this pickled plum adds a unique flavoring agent to your cooking. Because it’s sold as a whole plum, a plum paste, and also as a vinegar, there are a lot of possibilities for use, including sauces, dressing and splash seasoning.
Called the macrobiotic antibiotic, umeboshi is also prized for healing possibilities. It has a very balancing, centering effect; great for settling upset stomachs and conquering general dis-ease. At Vega Macrobiotic School we’d mash one ume plum with splash soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon kudzu (similar to cornstarch, a dried root used as thickener) into a cup of hot bancha (twig) tea start the day with a powerhouse Morning Tea. My teacher Cornelia Aihara (Food Party! famous for describing pickled daikon “ like horse penis”) has also suggested taping ume plums to our foreheads, offsetting the queasy feeling we might get driving the winding Tahoe back roads to macrobiotic summer camp.
Today we highlight umeboshi in Exploration Salad, a recent Cooking at the Market demo at the Portola Valley Farmers Market (live cooking demonstrations happen monthly at the market). This quick tahini + ume salad dressing is guaranteed to make your guests say, “Wow – yum! What’s in that?”
Corneilia’s Tahini Umeboshi Plum Dressing
Makes about 1 cup
3 umeboshi plums, minced (remove pit and soak in 2/3’rds cup water below for 5 minutes to remove paste from pit)
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
2/3 cup water
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
Whisk to combine. Drizzle on top of salad, cooked vegetables or grain.
Buy umeboshi in the ethnic foods aisle of your natural foods store.
Cooking at the Market inspires shoppers to try new foods, and learn new ways of preparing and enjoying seasonal, local products. With the help of market sponsors; businesses interested in supporting this tasty, educational
effort, we make a great meal and a great difference! Farmers’ markets and healthy eating is trendy and hot. Contact the market to learn how to support this community effort.