THAI HERBS AND PORK SALAD
I’m determined to get a life during this Labour Day long weekend so let me quickly leave you with this. Best. Damn. “Salad”. You’ll. Ever. Have. Period. Period.
HOW COULD IT BE? OH WAIT, IT’S THE PORK.
It’s a recipe I developed for Food52’s column “Half Way to Dinner“, and initially I didn’t write any measurements down because I wasn’t sure how open you guys would be towards a “ground pork salad”. But it turned out, a few request for it came in and so I made it again the other night… and again… and again…
I was incandescently happy being lost in a sea of gushing green that I got confused for a moment. How could be? What’s happened to me? The flavour between a few thinly sliced shallots, splashes of fish sauce and lime juice is practically addictive no matter what you mix it with, but still… am I a “salad” person now? Oh wait… there’s the ground pork… lots of it. Actually. Well forget what I said then.
Best. Damn. “Meat salad”. Ever. Period.
- 10.6 oz (300 grams) of ground pork-shoulder
- 1 tsp of fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch
- 1 tbsp of chopped lemongrass
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, with the mid-stems removed
- 2 ~ 3 small shallots, finely sliced
- 2 small red chilis, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped scallion
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro
- 3 tbsp of finely chopped mint
- 2 tsp of grated ginger
- Zest of 1/2 lime
- 2 tbsp of lime juice
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
This is a highly adaptable recipe with a few key-ingredients as a failsafe “foundation” to build on which are: Thinly sliced shallots, fish sauce and lime juice. Everything else is changeable to your liking. Ground pork can be shredded chicken, where as lemongrass/lime leaves/scallion/cilantro/mint, can be basil/chives/parsley/etc. Just remember the ratio between protein and herbs should be 1:1.
Mix ground pork-shoulder with 1 tsp of fish sauce and cornstarch until even. Heat up a non-stick skillet with 2 tsp of oil over medium-high heat, and sauté while breaking up the pork with a wooden spoon until it’s slightly browned. Let the pork cool completely over a fine sieve to eliminate excess oil. In a mortar, or spice-grinder or food-processor, grind the chopped lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves (use only the leaf-part without the mid-stem) until finely bashed up. Transfer to a large bowl, and add finely sliced shallots, chilis, scallion, cilantro, mint, grated ginger and lime zest (if you’re using small Asian limes with thin skin, 4~5 very thin slices added to the salad can bring refreshing zing). Add the cooled ground pork-shoulder, lime juice, fish sauce and ground white pepper. Toss the mixture until evenly combined. Re-season with more fish sauce if need be.
Serve with white steamed rice, or rice paper.