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Thai Style Salad Deluxe

7 Sep

two4six8!

I’m not going to bother with any long intro to this dish, all I will say is that I made it tonight, probably enough to serve 4 people and we polished off the lot. We seriously COULD NOT STOP.

You will have heard a million times, Thai food is all about the balance – sour, sweet, salty. You’ve got to get that right in this dressing but honestly, it’s not brain surgery.

This dish is a kind of hybrid salad! Paul always makes this beautiful glass noodle salad with shredded cos lettuce, herbs and prawns and I love to make Thai green mango salad when the fruit is in season. I yelped with excitement the other day at our Asian green grocers when I saw them there for the first time since last summer! Beautiful, slender, sour green mangoes. And thirdly, everyone’s favourite Thai salad – Larb – the one with the roasted rice powder and ground meat.The result is a bit of all these and boy was it amazing!

Like any salad you have full artistic license with this one – you just have to remember the sweet, sour, salty balance thing.  The star ingredient of ‘larb’ – the roasted rice powder, is not in this salad, I made little fried garlic slivers instead.

Here’s what you’ll need…

SALAD

2 Thai green mangoes (you want them very firm and green so they are tart and crunchy, not soft and floppy) See picture below!

3 spring onions

2 red chillies (optional)

about 2 cups bean thread noodles (cooked)

One baby cos lettuce (or 1/3 – 1/2 a big one)

coriander

mint

roasted peanuts

5-6 cloves garlic

fried shallots (from the Asian grocer)

12 cooked prawns

50-100 grams chicken mince

50-100 grams pork mince

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

DRESSING

juice one large lime (or 2-3 tbsps)

2-3 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps sugar (palm, white, raw, brown – doesn’t really matter)

1 tbsp thai chilli and soy bean paste (from Asian grocer)

A rule of thumb for this dressing is to use equal quantities of sour, salty, sweet – but you can make it to suit your taste. Just start with less and adjust gradually as you know fish sauce is mega salty!

Now that you’ve scrapped the idea of making this salad because the list of ingredients is soooo long, WAIT! You can make this without the three different meats and just pick one – or use none and serve it alongside grilled fish or meat. We bought prawns and then realised we had a leftover pork chop and some chicken breast so we used it all up. If you don’t have the chilli bean paste the dressing is beautiful without it.

Here’s what you do…

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well to allow sugar to fully dissolve. Set aside.

Soak your noodles in hot water according to packet directions, drain, cut into manageable lengths and set aside.

Slice the garlic and shallow fry it in a little oil until they just start to change colour – these will burn easily and remember they will continue to cook and darken in colour even once they have been removed from the hot oil. Drain on paper towel.

Slice the spring onions and chillies on the diagonal into thin slices.

Shred the cos lettuce (not too fine).

Peel the mangoes. Cut into thin strips** see below for notes on this**.

Place all the above ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Slice the prawns in half – add to the salad.

In a very hot pan with a little oil, fry minced pork and chicken with the 1 tbsp fish and the sugar until it is lightly coloured. Allow to cool slightly. Add to salad.

Roughly chop herbs (if you wanted to add thai basil or vietnamese mint you can) and add to the salad.

Toss all salad ingredients with the dressing until well mixed. Sprinkle with a handful of smashed roasted peanuts and some of the little fried shallots to serve.

Enjoy!

** You can cut the mangoes any way you like really but I do rough julienne strips the way a Thai friend of mine taught me to and it’s quite nifty and looks nice- you hold the mango so that it’s lengthways down the palm of your hand (i.e. where the stem would be is at the top of your middle finger), with a sharp pairing knife or short bladed knife cut incisions in the mango from top to bottom (they don’t have to o all the way through to the seed), then turn your knife so that the blade is perpendicular to the incisions you’ve just made and scrape off the strips. Confusing? Just slice off thin slices from each cheek and then slice into thin strips.

Firm, bright green mangoes are what you want. Most Asian green grocers should have them through Spring and Summer. You can skip the chillies if you don't like spicy.

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Pulled Pork Tacos

9 Feb
two4six8!

two4six8!

Ok, so you’re going to take the whole afternoon to make these, ok? Get a six pack of Dos Equis or some lime and soda and put some Mariachis on the turntable. Stick on a fake moustache, wear a red shawl, carry a monkey on your shoulder and pretend you’re Frida – whatever gets you in the mood!

Trust me it’ll be worth it! The pulled pork is incredible (you can have it on bread rolls, on rice with salad, in burritos, chimichangas, almost any which way your heart desires actually) and if you’ve never eaten home-made corn tortillas your life is about to change. They’re easy once you get into the rhythm.


You’ll need…

1.5 kg pork shoulder (on the bone for extra flavour)

3 brown onions, diced

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 tbsp brown sugar

3 tbsps malt vinegar

1 carrot, diced

1 small can chipotle chillies in adobo sauce (brands to look for in your deli La Costena, La Morena, Goya, Herdez, Embasa) blended until smooth

3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin

3 litres water

Prepare the Pork…

First, cut off the fat and rind from the pork. Set aside for use another day.

Fry the onions, garlic and carrot for a few minutes, then add all other ingredients to the pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a very low simmer and cook for around 3-4 hours (or around 90 minutes in a pressure cooker). You’ll know it’s done when the meat is falling off the bones very easily, or the meat shreds with a fork effortlessly.

The stock will be spicy, sweet and aromatic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove the pork from the stock and set aside to cool. Once cooled, pull apart with your fingers being sure to remove and discard any gristle, cartilage or veins as these are unpleasant to eat. Your meat is now ready to use.

Melt in your mouth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to refrigerate it until later on, simply reheat it in a fry pan with a little of the reduced stock. I like to add some kidney beans too.

Meanwhile, strain the stock and return it to the pan. Bring to a rapid boil and reduce by two thirds. Once cooled place this liquid in a bottle or container and refrigerate. Once cold, you can scoop the fat off the top (if you must).

By bottling the stock you can use it next time you make pulled pork – just top up with water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little bit of the master stock also gives ‘Chilli con Carne’ a great flavour boost! Remember to shake the bottle first.

For the Tortillas (about 8-10), you’ll need…

1 1/4 cups masa harina (cornmeal flour – not the same as cornflour  – it’s flour made from specially treated corn and you can get from some health food stores and delis)

1/4 cup SR flour

about 1 cup water and 1 tbsp vegetable oil

few pinches salt

Prepare the dough…

Simply mix all ingredients in a bowl until you have a smooth ball – the dough should not be crumbly or sticky. Break off a chunk of dough and roll between the palms to form balls about the size of a ping pong ball, with a smooth surface, no cracks.

I have broken off a few chunks so you can see the smooth surface and the texture of the dough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place the little ball between two sheets of greaseproof paper or in a plastic freezer bag and roll with a rolling pin to about the size of a c.d. Or, if you have one, use a tortilla press!

A press like this one makes light work of fresh tortillas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can only roll and cook one at a time because they will easily stick to any surface you put them on (especially each other – so don’t try to stack them). You’ll get a rhythm going where you can roll and cook simultaneously or better still, get an assistant!

Heat a small fry pan over medium-high heat and spray with a tiny bit of oil and gently place the tortilla in a pan. The easiest way to do this is to place your whole hand, fingers spread over the tortilla while it is still stuck to the paper or plastic. Gently peel it off and then quickly turn your hand over above the pan.

Cook the tortilla until small bubbles start to puff up or the edges look dry, then turn it. Use your fingers, be quick, slide it up the edge of the pan and flip it! When the tortilla starts to puff again (after about a minute), pull it out and keep warm in a pocket made of foil. Like this one…

They will stay warm in here for a while, or you can keep the packet in a very low oven. It will be hard not to eat them as you go – hold strong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Serve…

Any of these things are nice, but there are no rules – taste the meat and see for yourself – I think something fresh and crunchy is best.

Fresh radishes, sliced thinly

Red onion slices

Fresh lime wedges (I can’t enjoy one without a squeeze of lime)

Fresh coriander

Fresh salsa

Cucumber slices

cooked silver-beet or kale

sour cream

avocado

tomatoes