Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spicy Radicchio and Kale Salad

When I was in Malaysia several years ago, I had lunch in a genuine Thai restaurant. I say genuine, because unlike the Thai restaurants in the the West (some of which offer brilliant food, don't get me wrong), this one was clearly frequented by actual Thai customers. What led me to conclude this? The food--and I mean all the food--was so spicy that even I, a spicy food lover, could barely tolerate it.

There was quite a large and varied buffet, and every single curry, soup, salad, dumpling and spring roll was blazing hot. It was a trial by fire for a tourist like me, and I struggled to survive it. I do have to admit that I enjoyed the food immensely, once I reached that glorious endorphin plateau, but getting there was pretty challenging. I'm used to approaching chile-samadhi slowly, incrementally, but this was like having my lips, tongue, gullet and guts instantly deep-fried in one shot.

I know this is a strange introduction to the salad in the picture. How many mouths will be watering at the thought of an incinerated palate? Worry not, dear readers--this spicy salad is quite tame by comparison; I just wanted to set up the notion of combining a cool salad with a lash of heat. Maybe I brought it a little too close for comfort, but it's a true story, so there you have it.

The unorthodox inclusion of radicchio in this salad brings a hint of bitter to the mix, which complements the sweet-sour-salty-pungent components nicely. The only other vegetables are Tuscan kale, red onion, and mung bean sprouts, with a hefty amount of cilantro--technically an herb, but featured here as a salad green.

I built the dressing up from spoonfuls of panang curry and white miso, thinning with lime juice and coconut milk, and rounding it out with some roasted peanut butter. The consistency was fairly dense, but after working it into the vegetables, it became more like a thick mayonnaise. I heaped the salad into bowls and drizzled a little coconut milk over the top. I also added some dots of sriracha sauce--just because I still remember the thrills of that fiery lunch in Malaysia, and the spectacular delights of that day...


No comments:

Post a Comment