Thai salads combine fresh raw vegetables with protein, such as seafood or thinly sliced beef, or a combination. The salad resonates with the four taste notes: a hint of sourness, followed by saltiness, then sweetness, and then chile for spiciness. Often a Thai salad is the hottest dish of a meal. You can adjust the heat up or down depending on the amount of chiles you use.
You can use just a few chiles and serve dishes of Nam Pla Phrik for diners to adjust the heat upwards to their desired taste.
This melange of flavours results in an exciting Thai-taste recipe that is popular all over The Kingdom of Thailand. You can opt to make your own Nam Prik Pao (see link) or purchase in a jar at an Asian Market. Pantainorasingh Brand (labeled as "chilli paste with soya bean oil)is my favourite commercial Nam Phrik Pao.
1/2 lb lean pork, cooked and sliced
1/2 lb skinless chicken, cooked and sliced
1/2 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined, cooked and sliced
3 tbsp nam prik pao (roasted chile in soybean oil)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup juice of fresh lime
*optional minced Thai chiles to taste
1 tbsp date palm sugar
2 tsp tamarind concentrate mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
1/3 cup shredded cabbage
1/3 cup shredded carrot
2-3 green onions, chopped into 1" pieces
1/3 cup cashew nuts lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Butter lettuce or red lettuce leaves
Mix nam prik pao, fish sauce, sugar and tamarind juice together until smooth. Place in a small saucepan at medium/low heat and stir until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add lime juice, fish sauce, and stir just until blended.
Place the meats into a bowl, and pour sauce over it. Add the green onions and gently mix with the meats.
To serve: Arrange the lettuce leaves over the plate, place on the ends of the serving plate, and arrange the meat mixture on the cabbage. Add the shredded carrots on the sides.
Garnish mint leaves and chopped cashew nuts.
Serve with bowls of steamed Jasmine rice.
* If you prefer you can use peanuts in place of cashews.
A wonderful seafood version of this salad is using squid, king prawn, and mussels tossed in the chile and lime dressing with the spring onions, and lemon grass.
Other versions include squid, pork cracklings, prawns, fish maw, and green mango. I will share that variation next week.