I think a number of my fellow countrymen and women would admit the British don’t do salads. We’ve adopted other countries of late, sure, but when I grew up salads meant lettuce, quartered (and generally flavourless) tomatoes, some sliced cucumber and spring onion. And that was about it. This dry, flavourless token gesture of healthiness sat amongst the crisps and sausage rolls at the back of the table at many a get-together, slowly going limp and brown.
It only was much later in life when I first went to Italy and was presented with my first decent salad – a neatly arranged pile of rocket, semi dried tomatoes, parmesan shavings and a dressing, yes a dressing, of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I had no idea what the ingredients were at the time, but it was delicious. It was as much part of the dish as the piece of steak sat next to it and it changed my view of salad ever since.
I’m probably being a bit deprecating of us Brits, the humble ‘Ploughmans’ is still a great pub lunch and we simply don’t have the climate for the likes of semi-dried tomatoes or olives. As I mentioned though, we are keen to try other cuisines and we can readily get the staples for many different types of salad – Greek, French Spanish and my favourite – Thai
We went to a Thai restaurant recently and Helen went for a salad there. Partly because it’s a nice healthy option and partly because I encouraged her so I could try it. I do that a lot 😉
Thai salad is the ultimate for me. I love Thai flavours anyway, but in a salad they are so much more prominent. I made this salad the other night although the very few who saw my first ever post may notice I did something very similar before….
I used a good steak from a local butchers (sliced thinly, you only need to buy one regular sized cut) and some rice noodles to give it a bit more substance.
I must admit I can’t really remember the dressing quantities, but I tend to add the juice of a whole lime to a bowl and adding and tweaking the rest as I go. I’ve tried to list them, but it’s from recolection.
- 300g good quality steak, thinly sliced.
- Half a red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- two handfuls of breansprouts
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced (I used a potato peeler)
- About 2 savoy cabbage leaves, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 a red pepper, thinly sliced
- 3 small spring onions or 2 larger ones, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp mixture of chopped fresh coriander/basil (thai basil if possible)
- 100g rice noodles, cooked and cooled.
For the dressing (I think!):
- Juice of one whole lime
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rapeseed or light olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 red chilli
- 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
- A splash of soy sauce to taste.
Marinade the steak strips in some sesame oil and fish sauce for about 20 minutes.
Make up the noodles as instructed and rinse under the cold tap to cool. Flash fry the beef strips in a fiercely hot pan for a few second to brown and set aside.
Thoroughly wash and prepare the salad vegetables and mix together in a large bowl. Add the beef and resting juices one ready
Mix the dressing together, and taste/adjust as you see fit. Pour over the salad and toss well using tongues or a spaghetti spoon. Can’t get much quicker than that!