Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

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


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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