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Chef Pete

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Thai Inspired Summer Salads

July 9, 2019
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Summer is salad’s go time. Everywhere you go, in every food court, restaurant, and at every picnic, people are enjoying salads. And why not? A chilled, crisp salad is the perfect antidote to summer’s heat and humidity. Even better, salads refuel your tank without burdening your digestion like many heavier summer alternatives, such as grilled meats, fried foods, or carb-laden treats.

Salads and summer are mates.

Of course, as the summer wears on, even the best of mates can occasionally get a bit bored with one another. If this sounds like you, and you’re open to the idea of being introduced to other produce pals, I have some friends from out of town that you might just want to meet. WAY out of town… Like Thailand.

Thai cuisine is full of remarkable and unmistakable flavor combinations. It often features seafood or poultry seasoned with ingredients like spicy chiles, basil, mint, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro, lemon grass, fish sauce (anchovy sauce), and citrus juices like lime and lemon. Other popular ingredients include rice, pastas, nuts, and of course, tropical fruits and vegetables.

All this is to say that Thai has a LOT going on!

Contrary to popular beliefs, Thai food, in this case salads, doesn’t necessarily have to be spicy or hot, especially if you are making your own salad and controlling the amount of each ingredient you add. Far more important are the combinations of these ingredients that, in the end, give this cuisine its unmistakable tastes.

So, having said this, let me share with you a wonderful Thai salad dressing, which captures the essence of what it’s all about. I’ll also share some suggestions for a salad mix you can enjoy with it. If you’ve never tried Thai food and want to dive in, this is a perfect recipe to start with.

Thai Salad Dressing (Makes about 1 cup)

3 TBSP            Lime Juice
1 TBSP            Fish Sauce
1 TBSP            Soy Sauce
½ Cup             Peanut Oil
1 TBSP            Honey
1 TBSP            Sesame Oil
1 Stalk            Lemon Grass, trim off base and tips, then mince finely
3 TBSP            Fresh Garlic, minced
1 TBSP            Fresh Ginger, minced
2 TBSP            Fresh Mint, chopped
1 tsp               Serrano Chili, minced

Combine all ingredients together and whisk. This dressing will store in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Common Thai Salad (Makes about 4 salads)

1 Head             Chinese (Napa) Cabbage, cut in half then ¼” strips
2 Stalks           Bok Choy, trim, cut in half lengthwise, then on bias about ½” thick
1 Cup               Bean Sprouts
½ Cup              Carrots, cut matchstick size
½ Cup              Flat (Snow) Peas, cut on bias ¼”
½                     Red Bell Pepper, cut matchstick size
2 Stalks           Green Onion (Scallion), chopped
¼ Cup              Cilantro, chopped coarse

To the above, you can add a garnishment of these ingredients (to your liking):

  • Cooked Chicken, Shrimp, or Seafood
  • Tofu
  • Sweet Basil Leaves
  • Diced Mango, Pineapple
  • Cucumber, Grape Tomatoes (Halved), Avocado
  • Toasted Cashews or Peanuts
  • Cooked Pasta (Spaghetti–broken, farfalle, or other)
  • Toasted or Black Sesame Seeds
  • Toasted Coconut
  • Crispy Rice Sticks or Crisp Won Ton Strips

Wake up your taste buds and enjoy the bold tastes of a Thai salad this summer! After you do, let me know how you enjoyed it and which items you chose to put in your salad blend.

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