Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thai Salad Dressing

I promised in the last posting that I would give you the Thai Salad Dressing recipe. It's quite simple and very refreshing. It is a much requested and favorite pot luck dish and I usually serve it on a platter so you can see all the colorful ingredients. I use lettuce or Napa cabbage (sliced thin), sliced red pepper, slice raw carrot, sliced red onion or green onion (in thin shreds), lots and lots of mint which I think is the secret ingredient, along with some cilantro and usually some leftover sliced beef or chicken. There is no oil so it's very light and it's just so delicious. With all those colors - you just know it has to be good for you!

Thai Salad Dressing

½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup Asian Fish Sauce
¼ cup light brown sugar + 2 Tablespoons more if limes are especially sour
2 large garlic cloves minced
1 small Serrano chili, deseeded and minced finely

Optional - 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
A pinch of red chili flakes
1/4 - 1/3 cup chopped peanuts for garnish

For Salad:

3 - 4 cups of washed lettuce broken into small pieces or Napa Cabbage shredded
1 cucumber, peeled, halved with seeds scooped out and then sliced into half moons
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
thin slices of one peeled carrot
thin slices of one small red onion or 3 green onions in small shreds
1/2 red pepper - cut into strips
1 cup already cooked leftover roast beef or steak, pork or chicken sliced - can also use squid

Optional: precooked rice noodles (boiled 4 - 5 minutes, drained and rinsed in cold water) - about 1 cup

On large platter, lay down lettuce leaves and layer with cucumber and then add carrot and red pepper slices. On top of that, layer red and green onions. Put meat on top of that. Pour salad dressing all over the top and sprinkle with peanuts. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Salads are almost always part of the Fire Element and this one is no exceptions. Along with the lettuce and red pepper, there are also Serrano Chilies and red chili flake in the salad dressing, which all to the Fiery Nature of this dish. If you use Napa Cabbage, you are bringing in some of the Earth Element and this element is also included because of the cucumber, brown sugar, carrot, peanuts and beef (if you use it). The lime juice adds the Wood Element and chicken would add more. The mint and cilantro are somewhat Woody as they are leaves, but they are also considered part of the Metal Element because they are such pungent herbs. The Metal Element involves the raw garlic, red onion and green onion along with the rice noodles (if you use them. The Water Element is represented by the fish Sauce so this is the only element that needs enhancing. Using pork as the meat would help or seafood such as cooked squid. But unless you want to make this the whole meal, a soup would be a lovely accompaniment or cooking another Thai dish that embodies the Water Element would make it a balanced meal.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pad See Ew

Well, it's been one of those months. I haven't cooked much, mostly because I have been traveling and also because when I have cooked, I keep forgetting to take a picture. And, I think blog posts are so much more interesting with a picture. But, I did want to share some recipes I have been working on and this month I worked on Thai dishes but there aren't any pictures - sorry! I get into these modes where I want to perfect a dish or master certain dishes within a cuisine. I was inspired while in Mexico City visiting my friend Alicia and teaching our intensive program. She was missing the good Asian food in Seattle so I offered to cook. Her sons requested Thai so I obliged. Here's one of the better recipes I created. It's one of my son's favorites too and I started making it to save us from the high prices for take out when they were hungry teenage boys. It's really easy and really good.

Pad See Ew

1 package fresh rice noodles (or wide dried rice noodles – boil for 4-5 minutes and drain)
4 Tablespoons Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon white pepper
4 Tablespoons oil - divided
1 boneless chicken breast, sliced into small pieces or beef
2 cloves garlic minced
1 shallot, chopped or 1 small onion sliced
2 cups broccoli florets, lightly steamed or blanched for 4 minutes in boiling water
2 eggs lightly beaten

Put 2 Tablespoons oil in nonstick frying pan and put in noodles. Cook until dry and lightly browned. Remove to serving plate.
Mix Kecap manis, soy sauce, fish sauce and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat and add oil. Then add garlic and shallots (or onions). Stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add chicken breast and stir fry until no longer pink. Push chicken mixture to the side of the wok and add eggs. Scramble until set and stir in with chicken mixture. Add broccoli and sauce and noodles to the wok and stir until well combined and all the noodles are coated in the sauce. Put on serving platter and enjoy!

Five Element Analysis

Rice Noodles belong to the Metal Element and that's the basis for this dish and the garlic and onion add a little more Metal. The chicken adds the Wood Element and so does the broccoli. The soy sauce brings in the Water Element and so does the fish sauce. To balance this dish, serve an Earth Element dish that has some red chilis. I made a Thai Salad with lots of cucumber and slices of beef - both Earthy foods and a salad dressing that incorporates Serrano Chiles or Red Chili flakes - or both if you like things hot. See the next post for this recipe.