June 2, 2016

Ask A Chef: Grilled Onion Salad With Fermented Black Bean Dressing

Recipe: Amanda Cohen

Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy’s shares her recipe for Grilled Onion Salad.

Q: I had lunch at Dirt Candy during a recent trip to New York and loved their Grilled Onion Salad. The dressing was amazing! Can you get me the recipe? — Amy K., Toronto

A: Amanda Cohen’s award-winning vegetarian restaurant serves up a unique menu that focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Her Grilled Onion Salad uses a mix of red onions, scallions and herbs, while the Fermented Black Bean dressing lends an intensely savory umami punch without adding meat.


Fermented Black Bean Dressing

  • 3 1⁄2 tbsp soaked fermented black beans
  • 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup shoyu (Japanese-style soy sauce)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup scallion oil (see below)

Scallion Oil

  • 1 packed cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup sliced ginger
  • 1⁄2 cup untoasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp salt

Onion Salad

  • 3 large red onions
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large bunches scallions
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup parsley leaves
  • 1 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 1⁄2 cup Black Bean Dressing (see above)


Yield: Serves 4

Start Dressing

  1. Soak black beans in 1⁄4 cup warm water for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving beans and 11⁄2 tbsp black bean soaking liquid. Purée black beans, with reserved liquid, garlic, lime juice and shoyu until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Make Scallion Oil

  1.  Combine scallions and ginger in metal bowl. Heat oil over medium heat until almost smoking. Pour oil over scallion-ginger mixture and let sit until cooled to room temperature. Purée until smooth. Season with salt.

Grill & Prep Onions

  1.  Preheat grill or barbecue to high heat, about 500°F. Cut red onions into thick slices, leaving core intact for easier grilling (should make about 6 cups). Toss red onions in 2 tbsp olive oil. Brush scallions with remaining oil. Season both with salt and pepper.
  2.  Grill onions, turning every 2 to 3 minutes or until softened and char marks develop. Onions will reduce to about 2 cups each.
  3. Remove from grill and let cool. Chop scallions into 1″-long pieces.

Assemble Salad

  1. Toss grilled onions and scallions in bowl with cilantro, parsley, basil, diced red onions and dressing. Season to taste. Garnish with more fresh herbs, if desired.

Evan Sung


House and Home March 2016


Kristin Eppich