Happy National Junk Food Day! To celebrate this joyous occasion, let’s talk about McDonald’s. The other day, on the way back from the gym, my husband lifted up his tired arm and pointed at a huge billboard ahead of us for McDonald’s new Asian salad. His question, “What do you have to put in there before you can call it Asian?”My husband always jokes that he doesn’t like ‘Asian seasonings’. He’s usually laughing when he says it, but we both know he’s serious. He says there’s something in there that he can’t quite identify, but can always taste. There are a few ingredients that I know for sure that he won’t like it. The prime suspect is Japanese dashi, fish stock. Add soy sauce, salt, and sugar to the fish stock, and it’ll make a great soup for udon and soba. It’s also the base for miso soup. I guess growing up with it, I never thought miso soup smelled, but apparently, according to my selective husband, it does. Luckily, these dashi based dishes are mostly Japanese, and not that conventionally ‘Asian’, so it’s unlikely that the McDonald’s “Asian Salad” will contain dashi. Of course we’d still have to buy the salad to find out, but before that, our fun guessing game began.
My husband guessed the Asian salad would contain edamame, a food he first tried at my grandmother’s house in Japan. (Looking back, maybe we should have told him that you’re only supposed to eat the inside?) When it was my turn to guess what McDonald’s thinks is ‘Asian’, I chose canned Mandarin orange. Why? Just think back to every Chinese chicken salad you’ve ever eaten. Aren’t Mandarin oranges always in there?
Were we right? Well, I went to McDonald’s and placed my order. I was impressed with the wide variety of Asian culture on display as the cashier presented me with two options: “grilled” or “crispy” chicken. ‘Crispy’ being the code word for fried.
Being a fan of Asian culture, I ordered both. Just like they served in ancient Tokyo, my salad came with a packet of Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame dressing. To add even more Asian-ness to the mix, a packet of sliced almonds was included. The salad was much better than I expected, but basically it’s just orange or sesame chicken on a bed of green salad.
But to answer the big question: were our guesses right? Yes! There were both edamame and mandarin orange slices in it. Add ginger dressing and you may have that ‘Asian seasoning’ my husband is always complaining about. I suspect these two items plus ginger dressing are the answer to my husband’s question.
With the mystery solved, only one question remains: would I order this again? Actually…yes. It was a pretty good deal for 270 calories. Tasty and filling (Crispy: 420 cal). I guess my husband will just have to stick with his Happy Meal!