Thai-style Dinner Salads

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I wanted to put together an easy meal that would not heat up the kitchen too much on a hot day so I borrowed a few ideas from dishes that I have had at some Thai restaurants and put them together in a large dinner salad. A lot of the preparation can be done ahead or easily split among several helpers to reduce the kitchen time.

Servings:
4 dinners or 8 sides
Preparation Time:
30 to 90 minutes depending on your knife skills and use of fresh pasta instead of dry

Tools

  • 1.5 gal pot w/ lid
  • wok or 12" pan w/ lid
  • collander to drain pasta
  • knife & cutting board
  • mortar & pestle or food processor
  • large mixing bowl
  • small strainer or slotted spoon

Ingredients
Noodles

  • 1 gal. water
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 16 oz. package of dry rice noodles

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 hot chile, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped peanuts
  • minced zest from one lime
  • juice from one lime
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Paste

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced and minced
  • 2" nob of ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 head of garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 1 hot chile, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. corriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Chinese peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Salad

  • 1.5 oz. mixed greens per person
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • Thai basil and/or mint leaves

Stir Fry

  • 2 lb. mixed vegetables, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. light oil
  • 1/4 cup fish or chicken stock or water
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1/4 cup pasta water

Cooking Instructions
Steep shrimp shells in simmering water with 1/2 onion, celery stalk and carrot. Keep shrimp on ice or in refrigerator for later.

Heat water until almost simmering. Turn off. Stir in salt & rice noodles. Cover & let stand for for 30 minutes.

Combine ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Taste for salt & sugar. It should be slightly saltly and sour with a hint of sweet. Set aside for later.

Grind together the ingredients for the paste until all seeds are crushed. Set aside for later.
Slice vegetables that will be stir fried and lay out in cooking order - most to least firm.

Fill serving bowls with salad greens. Set aside for later.

Drain pasta - reserving 1/4 cup water - place drained pasta into large mixing bowl. Dress pasta with 1/2 of the dressing and toss to coat.

Strain shrimp stock.

Start heating wok and when hot quickly add oil and paste and stir. Add vegetables in order and stir for one minute before adding each vegetable.

Push vegetables up the sides of the wok and add the stock and when it starts to boil add the shrimp. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Uncover and stir all ingredients together and cook covered for 1 minute.

Push all ingredients aside and add pasta water and cook until it starts to boil - the starch in the water will help to thicken the sauce.

Turn off the wok and stir all the ingredients through the sauce to coat. Dump the contents of the wok over the noodles and toss noodles, shrimp and vegetables together. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over it all and toss again.

Serve the noodles, shrimp and vegetables over the salad.
Notes
We used green beans, carrot, celery and yellow onion for the vegetables in our stir fry.

Almost any long pasta will work for this dish. We used the rice noodles because they were in the pantry.

The shrimp can be replaced with an equal amount of chicken or twice the amount of mushrooms.

Tamarind paste thinned in water with some soy sauce and rice wine make a nice flavour if you have to avoid the fish sauce.

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I bet that would taste

I bet that would taste pretty good with ground pork too. But I would probably cut the amount of meat in half for that, otherwise it would probably end up too heavy.