Spicy Thai Salad
We have decided to throw a dinner yesterday evening even though Hub is currently buried under alot of work as were the 2 guys we've invited to the meal (one of them works directly for him). That's because we are now in the middle of the Summer and most wives have left or will be going away with the children leaving the husbands behind. Last evening was the only day we could find to have whole families together for a meal at our place.
It was a French evening. Or you must be able to speak French even if you were German or Singaporean. He doesn't like it when I have my Chinese-speaking meals, but he loves it when we hold Francophone parties. And since he was motivated to dine and wine with his friends/colleagues, he was in a great mood in spite of the pressure at work. This morning he spent 2 hours on the phone dealing with work though, thank God he wasn't suffering from a hangover.
I've kept the menu simple because he wanted to serve good wines with each course. To give you an idea, we had a bottle of Dom Pérignon and a 2000 bottle of L de la Louvière (Pessac-Leognan) among other bottles last night. I couldn't bury their tongues in rich curries and other spices as such.
Followed by a Spicy Thai Salad. Which honestly was fresh and delicious and such a great idea.
Without knowing it, we somehow had a more or less Thai meal. There was a Thai Pineapple Fried Rice served with Grilled Gambas and Thai Green Curry coming up next.
In an evening like this the cheese platter was essentiel. There were Camembert, Gongonzola and Pecorino cheeses. A bunch of fresh grapes. And wine, of course.
Dessert was Mascarpone with Puff Pastry, Raspberries and Grilled Almonds. And fresh fruit for those who desired it.
The company, needless to say, was lovely. MIL was in her element and I heard her giggling away as I drifted in and out of the kitchen. Probably because she finally could understand the conversation. Hub wanted LT (his right-hand man) and EB (CB's Hub) to meet over a meal which was why we organised this dinner. He was sure that they would hit it off. And it was a bonus that the wives were such wonderful ladies. I do not always enjoy the company of the wives of some of his colleagues, but I like LT's German partner very much and CB you all know of course I adore.
Spicy Thai Salad (for 7 as a starter) :
The dressing :
2 Tbsp Palm Sugar
1 piece fresh Ginger (julienned)
2 Garlic cloves (minced)
1 Thai chilli (sliced)
1 stalk Lemongrass (sliced into 3 and bashed)
1 Kaffir Lime leaf (shredded)
50ml hot Water
4 Tbsp Fish sauce
1 Tbsp light Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Chinese Rice Vinegar
Juice of 2 large Limes
1 Tsp Plum sauce
2 Tsp toasted Sesame oil
The salad :
1 small packet of dried Mung bean vermicelli (soaked in hot chicken stock and drained)
2 Tbsp light Soy sauce
2 Tsp toasted Sesame Oil
2 Shallots (finely sliced)
2 Cucumbers (peeled, deseeded, julienned)
2 Carrots (peeled, julienned)
3 large Champignons de Paris (finely sliced)
Half a Red Pepper (finely sliced)
Half a Fennel (finely sliced)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh Mint leaves (shredded)
Fresh Basil leaves (shredded)
Fresh Coriander leaves (shredded)
Toasted Sesame seeds (optional)
It's a very easy salad, but you spend the hell of alot of time mixing (and tasting) the ingredients for the dressing (all measurements are as usual estimated) to get it the way you like it. And all that before you chill the sauce (which will taste slightly different once the sauces and herbs marry) and chop the vegetables - which would require more time and effort. But the result was well worth it.
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a tupperware and chill it for a few hours. You have to get the balance of sweet, salty, acidic and hot right.
Soak the mung bean vermicelli in hot stock or water, drain and toss it with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Keep in another tupperware and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
Keep the vegetables in the fridge till 30 minutes before you need to serve your salad. Take them out and start to chop, julienne, slice etc. You basically choose to use whatever (crunchy) vegetables you like that can be eaten raw. You may also add green apples.
I got Hub to prepare the salad at this stage and he did a really good job. You need a large serving plate for this. Layer the vegetables, mung bean vermicelli and the fresh herbs on the plate - like making lasagna. And 10 minutes before serving, pour the chilled dressing over the salad, return the whole plate if possible to the fridge and let the salad maserate a little in the dressing before serving it. But not too long or they may turn soggy.
I often serve cooked prawns (grilled, boiled or pan-fried) or sliced grilled beef with the salad, but we like it very much as it is as well.