Play inspired classic salad dressing
IN A THEATRICAL context, the Green Goddess is the spiritual crutch of the rajah of Rukh.
In a cooking context, the Green Goddess is mayonnaise, anchovies and tarragon, and especially good on seafood.
Marcella Seto Chock e-mailed for a recipe for the dressing she remembered fondly from childhood. The search yielded a little lesson in theater.
Culinary references agree on the dressing's source: the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920s. A famed British stage star, George Arliss, was staying at the Palace while performing in the city in a play called "The Green Goddess."
Arliss played the rajah of a potentate near India, into which crashed a small plane bearing three British citizens. They survived, but the rajah refused to help them, believing that the Green Goddess had sent them to atone for certain injustices perpetrated by England against him.
"Asia has a long score against you swaggering lords," is one of his lines.
Anyway, the hotel dedicated a dressing to Arliss and the play -- a nice entrée might have been more of a tribute, but perhaps the idea of a green spiritual being turned thoughts to salad.
The classic dressing is an easy mix of mayonnaise, anchovies and vinegar, with the green coming from the herbs tarragon, parsley and chives. It actually turns out white with flecks of green, although some commercial preparations use food coloring to make it worthy of the name.
Variations on the basic formula add sour cream, lemon juice or garlic.
The dressing became the signature of the Palace Hotel, where it was often served with seafood. It can be used as a dip, as well, and makes a good base for coleslaw.
Green Goddess Dressing
1 tablespoon minced green onion or chives
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed, or 1 teaspoon fresh, minced
4 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons oil from anchovies
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine or tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine green onion, parsley, tarragon and anchovies on a cutting board and mince anchovies into the herbs, forming a paste. Or crush ingredients together with a mortar and pestle.
Combine remaining ingredients, then add anchovy mixture and mix. Makes a little more than 1 cup.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per 2 tablespoon serving: 200 calories, 22 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 190 sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, no fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein.
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