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.