I am a big fan of Thai kitchen. I love their salads, their curries, their soups…everything I have tried so far, I loved. The characteristics of the Thai food for me are the rich flavors, the fragrant and the understanding of aesthetics gifted to Thai people. The richness created with legumes and herbs! I believe that the Mother Nature has been so generous to that part of the world and we are blessed to enjoy such delicious ingredients!
No matter where I am on travel, I am always digging to dine in a Thai restaurant if I know there is one on my way. I have been to many of them so far around the world: for example in Brussels and in Antwerp, in Berlin, in Madrid, in London, in Istanbul and of course in Bangkok and Koh Samui! I am so determined to go to a Thai restaurant (because I hear the delicious food calling me everytime :) ), whoever travelling with me has to join. I take people to Thai restaurants and explain them what I know. I think Thai government should give me the title of “thai kitchen embassy” or something. :) For Europeans, and for Turks, it is a kitchen that is still quite foreign, I have the impression. Such a shame.
This salad is something that I prepare with pleasure and it is a quite quick kind of recipe. But why not a Thai salad but instead a Thai inspired salad? Years ago, in a supermarket in Belgium, they gave a piece of paper with a Thai salad recipe on it in order to promote their Thai products. Having been inspired by the many other Thai restaurants I have been to, I don’t know how far away I am from a genuine recipe anymore. But more important, in London, in Istanbul and in Belgium what they serve is not that far away in what I have eaten in Thailand. Though, to some Thai people, it is still not genuine due to the difference they taste in the aroma of the herbs and the freshness of them. And, despite the fact that I love Thai kitchen, I can’t eat so many chili’s as they do :) Somebody in Thailand once told me that it is not Thai food unless there is chili in it :) I didn’t use any chili in my salad. So I want to remain modest and I want to call my salad a Thai inspired salad :)
As for some of the ingredients, I don’t think it should be difficult to find them in Europe. In Turkey, I haven’t seen any glass noodles yet. I know I have seen some rice noodles. If you can’t find any glass noodles, you can use rice noodles instead. When in Thailand, I went to a supermarket, and I bought all the glass noodles I saw on the shelves :-) They were of course cheaper, they are genuine and they can remain fresh in their package for years :)
I used some lemon grass paste and Thai chili ketch-up as well. The lemon grass paste I brought from Belgium, and the Thai ketch-up is something I got to learn in Thailand. In Samui island, there was this nice little restaurant we used to go to, and there I was finally invited in the kitchen to be shown how my favourite Thai food is genuinely being prepared. There I saw that they add a bit of this ketch-up to the salad dressing with something like starch. To this day, I still don’t know what exactly it is because the people in the restaurant didn’t know what this product was called in English and I can’t read any Thai. Still, I brought some with me :)
|glass noodles, chili ketch-up and lemon grass paste|
Instead of salt, fish sauce is used and luckily I still have some left in my big bottle of fish sauce. You can find that in the supermarkets everywhere, I think.
As for the herbs are concerned, coriander is the queen of all the herbs in the Thai kitchen. It is something I love! If you haven’t tried it yet, it has such an aromatic taste, you will either love it or hate it. It is the Asian parsley, as some people call it. Anyway, in the restaurant in Istanbul, I was told that despite the fact that coriander grows in Turkey, the aroma is not like the herb grown in Thailand. Could very well be. So that’s why they import it as well.
Below is the recipe, but the amounts I used might seem to be too much for you, but it is for a salad-only dinner. Enjoy!
Ingredients (serves 2-4)
5-10 leaves of fresh mint, sliced roughly or not sliced (depends on how you like ‘em)
|mmm, fresh mint|
Coriander (the amount you add is up to you, but you gotta add it!!!)
1 spring onion, chopped
4-5 leaves of purple basil (it something that I had in my fridge, so I didn’t stop myself from adding it :) it is not a must)
|coriander, purple basil, mint|
1 small to medium size onion, sliced
5-10 leaves of lettuce, sliced thin
1 medium to big size tomato (you could use 4-5 cherry tomatoes instead), cut in big cubes
1 cucumber, sliced in halves
1 lemon (Lime is used instead of lemon in Thai kitchen; however, I didn’t have any), pressed
|lettuce, onion, cucumber, tomato and lemon|
|onion, tomato, cucumber|
80 grams of glass noodles , soaked in cold water for 20-30 seconds; then in hot water for 4-5 seconds (or according to the instructions on the package)
|glass noodles, ready|
1-2 spoons of Thai chili ketch-up
1-2 spoons of fish sauce
1 spoon of lemon grass
200 grams of minced meat (pork, lamb, veal – whatever you like)
1-2 teeth of garlic, chopped fine
- Mix the lettuce, mint, coriander, spring onion, onion, cucumber, tomato, purple basil leaves in a big salad bowl.
- Mix the lemon juice with the chili ketch-up and fish sauce to a dressing. And soak the glass noodles in this dressing.
- Cook the minced meat on a pan and add the garlic and lemon grass paste.
- In the middle of the salad, place the glass noodles. Toss the rest of the juice and scatter on the salad. Spread the minced meat over the salad