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Your New Favorite Caesar Salad, Thanks to One Secret Ingredient

Table for Oneis a column by Senior Editor Eric Kim, who loves cooking for himselfand only himselfand seeks to celebrate the beauty of solitude in its many forms.

The best Caesar salad is, for me, one in which you can taste the anchovies times a thousand.In the lettuce, in the dressing, even in the croutons. Anchovies galore.

This means that the salad can feel meaty and substantial enough to be lunch or dinner on its own, especially the way I make it: a whole romaine heart, scattered on a large plate with my extra-gutsy Caesar dressing, plus a generous handful of torn sourdough croutons, and lots of Parmesan cheese. A real knife-and-fork salad.

Theres nothing like ingesting an entire heart of romaine (orcos, asNigella Lawson calls it, named after the Aegean island where it originated) by yourself in one sitting to make you feel virtuous and light. Did you know that one single head of romaine lettuce has a whole gram of protein? Which means all you would need to do is eat six Caesar salads to get the protein equivalent of one egg. Talk aboutsuperfood.

Back to the anchovies: I didnt know the importance of them until I had my first real Caesar in Northern California. After a couple wine tastings in Napa Valley, my friend and I grabbed a quick lunch at the farm-to-table wonderMustards Grill, where they serve a super fresh, super crunchy, anchovy-redolent gem lettuce Caesar salad. (We also ordered the sweet corn tamales and citrus black beans, which were equally divine.) The next night, we had another spectacular Caesar atChez Panisse; again, it had great anchovy flavor with crisp California lettuce like none Id ever tasted.

Those meals made me realize how much I had been missing in the realm of the Caesar. Everything up until then had been a mockery! A ruse! Who knew that what Caesar salad needed most was to taste even fishier?

Now, I understand that anchovies arent for everyone, and to those people I say:thank u, next. Maybe this recipe isnt for you (scroll down below for one that is; Ive collected Food52s best).

But if youarean anchovy devotee like I amand like myBig Little RecipescolleagueEmma Laperruqueisthen this might be the Caesar salad of your dreams.

Ive taken a cue from Emma, who says, If you ask me, garlic isnt the make-or-break ingredient. Its anchovies. And a lot of them. A whole can, in fact.

Because Im all alone in the world, myCaesar salad recipeserves one (though you could certainly scale it up times two or fourlucky you).

But you know what? Even this single-serving Caesar salad dressing calls for an entire can of anchovies: most of the olive oil that the anchovies have been stored in (one tablespoon for the dressing, another for the croutons) and half of the fillets.

The best Caesar salad is, for me, one in which you can taste the anchovies times a thousand. In the lettuce, in the dressing, even in the croutons. Anchovies galore.

As if that werent enough, Ive addeda packet of Koreanroasted seaweed snack, orgim(which you can find at most grocery stores these days, especially Trader Joes, Whole Foods, andH Mart).

Gim is nori, or seaweed, thats been brushed with sesame oil and sprinkled with salt, then roasted until crispy. These days its marketed as roasted seaweed snack, I imagine because it eats like a salty chipand thats certainly one way my family enjoyed it growing up. But more regularly, it was a pantry staple we kept on the dining room table because it tastes great as a side dish with any meal or as a makeshift vehicle for rice.

As an adult learning to fend for himself in his own kitchen, I quickly learned that it also happens to work especially well as an ingredient in cooking.

In a Caesar salad, roasted seaweed amplifies the dressings salty seaside flavor, but it also provides a back note of savory nuttiness, which pairs well with the equally savory and nutty anchovies.

Its a habit Ive picked up from my mom. Whether it waskimchi fried riceorbibimbap, she always crumbled in some gim at the end for extra oomph. Today, in turn, I like it inavocado toastscrambled eggs, and evensour cream dip. It adds that somethin somethin thats hard to replicate.

In Korean, theres a word for this ber savory, nutty flavor one gets from roasted seaweed snack and other umami-laden ingredients:gosohae. Theres no perfect English translation. It describes foods that are rich, tasty, and lip-smacking. And an anchovy-rich Caesar salad is, for me, certainly that.

1 romaine heart, separated into individual leaves

1 cup torn 1-inch pieces sourdough bread, crusts removed

6 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons of the oil, divided)

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1 (5-gram) packet roasted seaweed snack, crushed with your hands

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