So this is this, and that is that:
And there's how you AD-DRESS A CAT - T.S. Eliot
I usually don't do recipes. They are a pain in the buttocks. At home I tend to cook by the seat of my pants, the outcome of each flavor profile guided by instinct and skill to match my mood at that particular moment. If you believe that I'd like you to consider this bridge I'm selling in Brooklyn.
The fact is that, while I know where I want to go and how to get there, I am too lazy to carefully measure so as to create the instruction manual for others to repeat my result. Every once in a while I do come up with something I really like and take the time.
Like so many things in cookery this inspiration came unplanned, the result of three unconnected events. First, I had leftover chicken - something I love. In this case it was a version of Grace Young's "Rock Sugar Ginger Chicken" modified to be finished on the grill.
Second, our first CSA pickup was Thursday, including an assortment of greens: two types of leaf lettuce, baby spinach and bok choy and kale, mizuna and arugula. That, along with the young radishes and tunips, screamed "leftover salad".
Combined with rising temperatures on Friday it became a certainty. So I wanted a dressing that continued the Asian theme. I considered Vietnamese nuoc cham, which aside from being one of the world's best dipping sauces serves as a fine dressing for salads and slaws.
Still, I wanted something more substantive - more rounded and complex. Lime juice and fish sauce for sure, but soy and rice vinegar as well. I experimented with other sweeteners, but kept going back to the simplicity of white refined sugar. For heat I skipped chopped chillies for chilli garlic paste, and, inspired by Andrew Galarneau's review of Saigon-Bangkok in Friday's Gusto, I thought of the tamarind chilli paste so perfect in Tom Yum Goong and other favorite Thai dishes.
It worked well. So well that after we got back from the NT market on Saturday, I convinced Trish to try the salad at lunch. She liked it so much that she urged Ellie to try some. Ellie did, and turned to me to ask, "you did write this one down, didn't you Dad?" I had.
Tonight I used it to dress the slaw I served with BBQ ribs. Still yum.
So here it is for you. Tamarind Chilli Paste is a unique condiment worth having in the pantry. Maesri makes one that is available in markets selling Thai goods. Look can for a jar with a smiling lady on it. Otherwise add an extra tablespoon each of lime juice and chilli garlic paste.
I hope you enjoy
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 Tsp Chilli Garlic Paste
- 1 Tbsp Tamarind Chilli Paste
- 1 Tbsp. white sugar
- 1/2 Tsp white pepper
- 1/2 cup canola oil
Combine in a jar or bottle and shake before serving. For longer shelf life store in the refrigerator. I didn't add herbs to the dressing to extend shelf life, but did add some to the salad and slaw. Thai basil mint and cilantro would all be great.