‘Tis a grey day in Wales and the streets of Bangkok seem a million miles away. There’s a little man, who moonlights as a pole dancing call girl (it is Bangkok) who makes the best Pad Thai, just off the hellish Kaosan Road. He whips it up in seconds, with his vivid painted blue nails and long fake eyelids. It normally contains little dried shrimps and eggs, which we don’t add, but the rest of the ingredients are so simple and classically Thai. I can’t help thinking that making Pad Thai wouldn’t be such a bad way of making a living (preferable to moonlighting as a pole dancing call girl anyway!).
This type of Pad Thai recipe has been in my mind for a while and Jane just kick started me into getting it done. I knew I wanted coconut in there somewhere, to make up for the flavours of shrimp, fish sauce and egg, but it needed something else. I sought inspiration on the interweb and found a great recipe at the taste space food blog. Just add almonds! The missing ingredient had been found and I was off. I always think of Spain with an almond, so mixing Spain and Thailand seemed like a very interesting proposition.
This is a taste sensation, as you would imagine from anything faintly Thai. Thais food knows no mediocrity, over cooked veggies or insipid stews. Its all fresh and POW! over there. This is as Jane commented “real gourmet stuff!” Not bad for a salad!
I have added a few luxury ingredients that are not your everyday larder staples, but they are well worth the investment. The tamarind is not necessary and if you have no almond butter, you can use peanut butter instead. Tamarind is easy to find in most places and inexpensive. Check out your local world food store. If you can’t get your mitts on a fresh coconut, use pre-packed or I daresay desiccated will do.
For the salad itself, you will need a sharp knife and a French peeler. Really, no cooks drawers are complete without one, so it’s a wise purchase. You will save years of your life peeling things, they are so easy to use and in this recipe, double as an ace veg noodle maker. Yes, no noodles here, just veggies. Making it super healthy and crunchy. You can use some kelp noodles as a base if you are in a rush, this salad does take while to get together. Kelp noodles are really interesting and taste fantastic, not disimilar to a noodle. They are also completely raw (aka good for the belly and body). They are widely available and well worth an experiment.
The salad base will be good with other things like carrots, cauliflower and apples for instance. We have gone for something a little closer to home i.e. whats in the fridge. We don’t like the dressing to be super sweet, but you may add a little more honey if you are a sweetie.
The kitchen is still full of the aroma of this intense dressing and the salad not only tastes wonderful, but is a rather sexy little number to boot! It’s a looker.
This is the perfect summer salad to impress your friends (if they need any further impressing) and to treat your nearest and dearest to a taste of Thailand with a twist. It is ideal served as a main course, but could also make a super side dish or starter. Basically, you need to try this, however its served!
Makes one big bowlful of good Thai lovin':
I know this looks like a hefty amount of ingredients, but don’t fret, its easy peasy really….
Salad/ Noodles – 1 large courgette (ribboned), 1 head of chicory (very thinly sliced whole), 1 red pepper (very thinly sliced, or julienne as they say in kitchens), 2 sticks of celery (ribboned), 2 handfuls of finely grated white cabbage, 1 big handful of sprouted mung beans (we used sprouting aduki beans also), 1 orange (peeled and chopped small), 1/2 a small coconut (chopped into small chunks), 1/2 cup smashed up peanuts (roasted if you’re not a raw one), 1 lime, heavy sprinkle of sesame seeds, 1 lime (for serving).
Dressing – 3 tbs tamari (or soy sauce), 2 teas honey (make runny by mixing in a little hot water), 2 cloves minced/ crushed garlic, 1 inch of finely chopped ginger, 1 chilli (finely diced), juice of 1 big lime, 4 dates (soaked until soft), 1 tbsp tamarind paste (we chopped up, then mashed up whole tamarinds into a paste with a little warm water), 1/2 cup of almond butter (we make our own using soaked almonds and alot of blending, plus a little water. You may use peanut butter here), sea salt (if you like, we don’t).
Ribbon and chop all your salad bits and get them into a lovely big bowl. To ribbon easily, keep your fingers out of the way and bring the peeler down in smooth, firm motions. Flip the veg regularly to ensure it is evenly peeled and by the end, you should be left with only a little slither, which can be sliced and tossed in also. Reserve a few of the peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut for serving later.
In a blender, add all of your dressing ingredients and whizz up for a few minutes until a smooth texture has formed. Taste it and adjust accordingly, normally the decision will be, sweeter or not? It may need a little more lime, use the lime reserved for serving.
Mix the dressing into the salad, gently does it, some of those ribbons are quite fragile and look great when served whole. Dish up with a big smile and be prepared for some yummmmmssss!
Sprinkle a few peanuts, coconuts and sesame seeds and finish with a little twist of lime juice.
We Love It!
WOW. A really stunning salad. Jane said it was “more than lovely, INCREDIBLE! This salad is genius…..”
Pad Thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes. It has been served in Siam (Thailand’s old name) for thousands of years, but was made popular by president Luang Phibunsongkhram in the 1930’s. He wanted to lower the consumption of rice in Thailand, which was making good money being exported, and therefore promoted Pad Thai as being proudly Thai and virtuous. He set about educating the nation in making rice noodles, especially the underpriveleged, training them to sell Pad Thai dishes selling them in small cafes or from street carts. This may have something to do with the amazing array of Thai street food in modern day Thailand. Cheers Luang!
Now for a blast of Thai blues from my favourite bar in Bangkok, the legendary ‘Adhere Blues’ bar: