Thursday, June 30, 2011

Panang Napa Slaw

A friend of mine very kindly sent me a couple of tubs of Panang curry paste (my favorite!), which arrived a couple of days ago. I just had to use some right away. It's been hot and dry the last few days, and what I was really craving was a salad, so instead of making a Thai-style curry, I decided to use the paste in the dressing.

I'd had a large head of Napa cabbage for a few days, so rather than let it age to the point of self-composting, the way vegetables lost in the back of the refrigerator are known to do, I decided on a slaw, with this as the star protagonist. In supporting roles, I cast celery, carrots, scallions, Japanese cucumbers, and fresh mint. I cut everything thinly, on a sharp diagonal, as I often like to do, especially for dishes that lean in an Asian direction.

The dressing took mere seconds to make. Well, more like a couple of minutes (a mere 120 seconds). I simply threw lime peel, lime juice, the Panang curry paste, some Udo's DHA Oil, hemp seeds, mellow white miso, and a little water into the Vitamix and whipped it to a smooth, pale cream--surprisingly pale, considering the rich dark color of the curry paste. I poured it over the vegetables in a large bowl and tossed it with my fingers, to ensure thorough blending. Yes, I washed my hands first.

I served the salad in bowls, garnished generously with sesame seeds. The curry paste's signature heat, oddly enough, presented more of a backnote than its usual in-your-face posture, which was fine because all of its subtle aromatics came through beautifully. It was just spicy enough to qualify for a curry-based dressing, and creamy enough to hold a slaw together. Perfect, really.

A few fun fact about spicy food in hot weather: because it raises your body temperature slightly, spicy foods make you sweat. As the sweat dries, it cools you down. Somewhat counter-intuitive that chiles would do that, but scientifically logical. Also, the oils in chiles are hostile to microbes, which proliferate in hot climates, making chiles an ideal anti-bacterial food. And did you know that chiles are the most anti-inflammatory thing you can eat? Weird, but true!

And now, as I prepare to hit "Publish Post," it's starting to rain! Am I lucky or what?

1 comment:

  1. that salad sounds so refreshing and delicious! great for a summer meal :)