Fuji Apple Salad with Kimchi, Bacon, Maple Labne

After my four and a half bowls of ramen yesterday, I kind of felt like I never wanted to eat again. Then, around 2pm, my tummy started rumbling. Could it be? Was I hungry? Luckily, I had the ingredients for Fuji Apple Salad in my fridge.

This is a salad you can throw together quickly if you have everything you need. If you can’t easily find labne, substitute Greek yogurt and save yourself a lot of frustrated rare ingredient searching.

My search for labne took me all over the city. Labne is a Middle Eastern yogurt or soft cheese. Stubbornly, I wanted to believe that they’d carry it at regular grocery stores so I checked all the usual suspects. I figured, Greek yogurt is found in most in grocery stores, so why not Middle Eastern?

I was wrong, of course. There was kefir and Greek yogurt, but not Middle Eastern. Mike suggested going to a Middle Eastern corner store nearby and I almost got my hopes up, but they didn’t have labne, at least not the way I thought it was supposed to look. The shopkeeper showed me a milky, yogurt-looking drink, nothing like the thick yogurt I thought it would be like.

The next logical step was to visit an actual Middle Eastern grocery store. I looked in all of the coolers for a good fifteen minutes, but I couldn’t find labne. I asked the friendly owner if they had any, and at first, he had no idea what I was saying; I was pretty sure I was saying it wrong so I tried switching it up: lab-nay instead of lab-nuh. For the record, it’s lab-nuh.

He lead me over to a cooler that I already looked over twice and of course, there it was, just above my eye level. I should have felt like an idiot, but instead I just felt absurdly happy to see that clear plastic container full of soft, white cheese.

The labne, which is a mildly tart soft cheese, is mixed with maple syrup to create a slightly sweet, tangy sauce. On top of the maple labne sit fuji apples tossed in pureed kimchi. Pureed kimchi is really delicious; something happens when you puree it, the flavour mellows out without losing the bite.

It was a great salad, fresh with interesting flavour combination: crispy, spicy-sweet apples, smoky bacon, peppery arugula and smooth and creamy maple labne. I’ll be making kimchi apples again soon, they’re an addictive, healthy snack, just what I needed after my ramen binge.

12 Comments add yours

  1. Really unique use of kimchi…I will have to try this sometime.

    Kimchi is my new favourite flavouring agent. Why use salt or pepper when you can use kimchi?

    steph on March 1st, 2010 at 2:31 pm
  2. this recipe is a real winner! everyone loves it. and on the labne in a pinch, drain/squeeze greek yogurt in a floursack/muslin towel… works fine.

    Thanks for the tip on the labne. I wasn’t too sure what the difference between Greek yogurt/labne was so I just decided to buy it.

    steph on March 1st, 2010 at 2:32 pm
  3. Fantastic – again – another signature momofuku dish – something that sounds really weird yet works!

    I was a little apprehensive about this dish, but you’re right, it totally works!

    steph on March 2nd, 2010 at 1:06 pm
  4. I prefer honeycrisp apples myself since they tend to be consistently sweeter than fuji, that is if you are going for the sweet-hot combo.

    I’ll have to try with honeycrisps. I love fuji apples though. Well, really, I love all apples!

    steph on March 2nd, 2010 at 1:07 pm
  5. The comment about making your own labne is right.
    Make sure that your yogurt does not have gelatin in it.
    Line a strainer or collander with cheesecloth. If the cheesecloth doesn’t have a nice tight weave, you may need two or three layers.
    Put in your yogurt and cover with the sides of the cloth.
    Place the strainer in a bowl. Put a plate that fits into the strainer on top and place a weight (for instance, a can of tomatoes) on top. This really speeds up the process.
    Depending on the clearance of the strainer, you may need to drain off the liquid (whey) periodically.

    You can actually get cheese as thick as cream cheese this way.
    Make all kinds of cheese spreads with this. Toss in some roasted garlic, chopped scallions, thyme, salt, and pepper, for instance.
    Don’t throw out the whey, it is high in protein. Use in for making bread, waffles, or soup.

    Making your own yogurt is pretty easy too.

  6. Labne is available at Natural Grocer’s on Guadalupe/ATX (I bought some yesterday, so must try this salad!).

  7. Labneh is awesome, my favorite thing to do with it at the mo is roll it in hazelnut dukkah, super easy
    ( roast rubbed hazels, toasted sesame seed 5-1 ratio by weight ), spices below for a cup of this mix
    ( toasted coriander seed, cumin, black peppercorns, teaspoons 4/2/1 and powdered cinnamon and salt to taste at the end)
    smash spices in mortar/pestle or grinder, and toss thru blitzed nuts and seeds
    If you do this when they are still warm the oils make the spices stick so uniformly…

    Take 3day yoghurt labney from fridge, roll into balls and roll in dukkah, serve with lamb, quince, roasted peaches, whatever all delish!

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