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Nine flavoured salad

This is, if you like, the opposite of the quick dinner for 10 I posted
recently - it is a very slow recipe.

It has been remarked that most recipes in Thai cuisine are fast to cook,
and only require moderate preparation. In fact that does apply to most
foods except desserts. Traditionally a middle or upper class lady would
employ a number of khunchai -- household servants -- who would do the
"grunt work", including the cooking. The lady of the house would only
cook desserts, and having much leisure time could prepare amazingly
intricate and time consuming confections.

There is another exception: traditionally Thai households made their own
sauces: fish sauce could take months, even years to mature to full
flavour in a clay pot buried in the garden.

This recipe doesn't go to such extremes, but it does take a long time
for some stages to mature before you can continue.

This consists of a dressing that combines all four of the basic
flavours: salt, hot, sour, and sweet. The final salad uses nine flavour
ingredients, that are matched against each other in three groups. As
presented here the first of these groups, let us say the "protein group"
consists of a fin, fur and feather, that is to say a fish, poultry and
meat selection. This is offset by three "veggies" and three fruits. You
could however choose to use three more closely related flavours in the
protein group: three different sea food flavours, three poultry
flavours, or three meats. 

Finally the salad dressing calls for two Thai chillis: prik chi fa is a
mild chilli, about finger sized, that is the Thai equivalent of the
Jalapeno. Prik Ki Nu (birdseye chilli) is a fiercely hot little morsel,
that can be replaced by Habaneros if you find them easier to obtain or
handle.

Finally the basic components of the salad dressing: the sweet soy
component, the fish sauce component and the chilis in vinegar, can all
be used as basic table condiments. Thus, though this recipe is for the
quantity needed for this dish, you could easily make more, and use them
with other foods...

---

The salad dressing.

Stage 1

Component 1 : prik nam siyu wan

Place a quarter cup each of freshly grated ginger, chopped shallots
(purple onions) and sliced prik chi fa in a 1 cup container, and fill
with sweet dark soy. Stir to make sure there aren't any air bubbles and
top up if necesary. Seal and keep in the refridgerator for a week.

Component 2 : pak nam pla

Place a quarter cup each of chopped onions, sliced celery and julienned
mooli (white Chinese raddish) in a 1 cup container, fill with fish
sauce, stir briefly and top up if needed. Keep in the fridge for a week.

Component 3: prik dong

Place a qurter cup of sliced red prik ki nu in a half cup container and
fill with white vinegar (rice vinegar if you can get it). Cover and keep
in the fridge for a week.

Stage 2

A couple of hours before you are ready to eat the salad, take some
tomatoes, and drop them briefly in boiling water, then skin them.
Discard the seeds, and coarsely chop them to yield one cup of chopped
tomatoes.

Combine all the ingredients, and add a quarter cup of palm sugar and a
quarter cup of lime juice.

Now, if you wish the dressing to have a smooth sauce like consistency,
put it in a liquidiser and blend until smooth. If you want a more salsa
like consistency, simply omit this step.

Place the combined ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until reduced
to suit your tastes (you need about two cups of dressing).

--

The salad.

You need a third of a cup each of the following ingredients.

1: crispy deep fried catfish pieces
2: chicken (preferably steamed, but any cooked chicken will do)
3: pork (stir fried, but again any cooked pork will do)
4: "Chinese leaves" (raw)
5: bean sprouts
6: mushrooms
7: pineapple chunks (preferably fresh)
8: mango
9: orange segments

Combine the salad ingredients, add enough dressing to coat thoroughly,
and serve.

Additional prepared dressing, prik nam siyu wan, pak nam pla, and the
usual Thai table condiments of prik dong, powdered chili and sugar
complete the presentation.

The dish can be served on its own "between meals", with sticky rice for
lunch, or as part of a multi-course dinner.

Special thanks to - Muoi Khuntilanont.