Thai Mixed Vegetable Salad
No, my friends, of course this isn't "an authentic Thai recipe"- but lets face it- I am not from Thailand and chances are, your probably aren't either!
But flavored with Thai sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, lime, sesame oil and cilantro... this tastes pretty close to what an old Thai friend of mine used to serve me up when I would visit her at home... and that's good enough for me! What do you say, Tuanjai? ;-)
When it comes to salads, the important thing is that your ingredients are nice and fresh and that they remain tasting nice and fresh! Yes everyone loves a dressing on their salad- and yes, this one IS very flavorful- but I really don't like dressings that overpower the flavors of the individual ingredients... as always- I like to try to coax the best of each flavor out and to combine them together harmoniously. And yes- I did just say "try"!
One thing that we take for granted a little sometimes, is that yes, Asia is a strange and exotic place to most of us... but that many of the foods they eat are also everyday vegetables that we eat too. It is not everything that is weird over there! As my old friend used to say- "pigs still say "oink" in Thailand, even though it's another country!".
So with that in mind, I used the simple vegetables I had, rather than trying to be clever and going out to buy papaya, bean sprouts, bamboo or lotus roots!
To make my salad I used some white radishes, carrots, sugar-snap peas, cherry tomatoes and a little celery. I happened to have cilantro at home which was great and also some salted peanuts for a bit of crunch!
For the dressing I used sesame oil, sweet Thai chili sauce, lime juice, salt, sugar and pepper. Simple stuff... and even simpler was the method of making it...
Of course, making it look pretty is always fun... or a challenge, depending on how you see things , but of course, the main thing is that the flavors work well together... and they do!
Being as each ingredient is prepared individually, the presentation is really simple though... but we will get to that in a minute or two...
Your most important tool for preparing this salad is a humble vegetable peeler.
With both the radishes and the carrot, I simply peeled them... then continued taking shavings off, right down as far as I could go! Simply revolve the veggies as you go and it will be easy!
The celery and tomatoes were simply sliced as thinly as possible and the peas, shredded lengthways- just to have a little variation of texture in there- and also because they are such fun to eat that way and just look so wonderful!
Already look good enough to eat, don't they? Well... yes they are... but they are about to become even better!
I prepared the carrots and the radishes in the same way- by sprinkling them first with salt and pepper, adding a little sesame oil and gently squeezing and massaging them with my hands. The salt soon helps to soften as well as season them and you will find that they do not snap- which is great, because they become much easier to eat whilst still retaining their crunch!
Once they are soft, add a little sugar and mix it in well... and you are ready to begin stacking up your little salad!
Simply build the salad up, layer by layer, pressing each new layer down gently to keep everything nice and compact... easy stuff!
After the radishes I added the celery, tomatoes and last but not least those beautiful green peas. I sprinkled everything generously with finely chopped cilantro, drizzled it lightly with sesame oil and then added the super-yummy sweet chili sauce! And began feeling very, very hungry!
The finishing touch was of course plenty of those delicious, crunchy salted peanuts... oh wow! That is quite a little feast of a tiny salad right there! How would you like to try some?