Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

March 31, 2010

While it originates in Luang Prabang, Laos, this salad rests happily here in my tummy.  

To further drive in my point that Southeast Asian food is a detante of flavors, temperatures, and textures, there is not one but two dressings in this salad.  The first is minced pork in a sweet vinegar broth.  The second is a salty sour nuoc cham.  The mix is sublime.

Luang Prabang Salad Adapted from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (Artisan, 2000)
Serves 6-8 Total time 1 hr

INGREDIENTS

Salad
4 eggs
1 pkg or ~14 oz bun (aka dried rice vermicelli)
2 heads butter lettuce, roughly torn
1 c Ngo Gai or cilantro, coarse chop
6 scallions, 2 inch juliennes
1 c celery or parsley leaves (I stole mine from my neighbor's untrimmed herb box)
1/4 c roasted peanuts, chopped

Cold Dressing
3 thai chiles, deseed, fine mince
1 clove garlic, fine mince
2 T lime juice
2 T fish sauce
1 T water

Hot dressing
2 T peanut oil
1 thai chile, deseeded, mince
5 cloves garlic, fine chop
1 T ginger, fine chop
1/2 lb pork, ground or rough chop and mixed with 1 t salt
1 1/2 T brown sugar
3/4 c water
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 t ground black pepper

1. Hard boil eggs.  I like to use my roommate Kasia's perfect recipe for eggs.  Bring a saucepan of water to boil.  Add eggs.  Boil for 11 minutes. Drain. Cover with cold water for 5 minutes.  Crack. Leave for 5 minutes. Peel.  **When you add the eggs, do not just drop them willy nilly in as they will crack.  Carefully submerge them with a slotted spoon.  We are not bombing Iraq here.

1a. Separate cooked yolk from white and place in a bowl.  Mash with the back of a fork. Set aside.  This will later go into the hot dressing.  Slice whites in a beautiful fashion.

2. Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 10 minutes.  Boil in a large pot as directed on the pkg. About 5 minutes.  Drain.  Rinse thoroughly with water. Set aside

3. Combine the contents of the cold dressing in a little bottle.  Chill. Set aside.

4. 10 minutes prior to eating, make the hot dressing by heating oil over medium in a pan.  Add garlic and ginger and fry for 20 seconds. Turn the heat up and add the pork. Brown for 2 minutes.

4a. Add the mashed yolks.  Sprinkle the sugar and pepper evenly on top.  Stir fry for 1 minutes.

4b. Add the water and the vinegar.  Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by half.

5. Assemble salad on a large platter.  Cover the bottom with rice vermicelli, then butter lettuces, ngo gai, celery/parlsey leaves, and scallions.  Pour on the hot pork dressing.  Pour on the cold dressing.  place the egg whites on top.  Sprinkle with peanuts.

After eating, you will find a pool of delicious sauce.  Sop it up with more noodles.

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