Asian Gazpacho

ASIAN GAZPACHO MAKES 1 QUART, SERVES 6

Today, a few miles away from my mom’s house in Los Altos, California, generations-old peach orchards have now been supplanted by high-tech Apple computers. Yet it’s apropos that one of the most popular products to have come out of Silicon Valley is named after a fruit; after all, this region’s bounty has always been local and sustainable. At the same time, the South Bay is home to a large Asian population – many of the area’s remaining farmers are third-or-fourth-generation Asians – and so Asian greens are readily abundant at the local farmer’s market, where Earl Girl tomatoes sit side by side with lemongrass and Thai holy basil. When putting together a late-summer gazpacho, I grabbed a handful of the best-looking seasonal produce and herbs I could find there. The result was this umami-packed gazpacho – a riff on the classic Spanish cold soup.

INGREDIENTS:

4 ripe medium tomatoes (1½ pounds)

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 small red onion, chopped (⅓ cup)

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup Asian sesame oil

¼ cup mirin

Sea salt, to taste

Sriracha or other tangy chili sauce to taste (optional)

½ cup fresh Thai basil leaves

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

2 scallions (green and white parts) chopped

Lime wedges

Toasted sesame seeds

In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes with the cucumbers, red onion, garlic, and ginger for 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour the gazpacho into a large bowl. Add the sesame oil, mirin, and sea salt to taste. If using Sriracha, add a few drops to taste.

Serve immediately, or even better, refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors blend. Just before serving, stir in the Thai basil, cilantro, scallions, and a squeeze of lime. Garnish each serving with sesame seeds.

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