Thai Trio

pork w rice and grapefruit salad

A friend (thanks, Pat!) gave me a Thai cookbook, Quick & Easy Thai by Nancie McDermott, for Christmas, and I’ve been reading through it like a novel.  As you do.  And I’ve been marking the recipes I want to try with little post-it strips.  As you do.

I finally got around to going to the Asian grocery and buying a few supplies I needed, and the past two days I’ve tried three dishes from the cookbook that pretty much blew me away with their fresh and bright tastes.

The first thing I made, because the Asian grocery had some pretty, thin-skinned Asian eggplants, was the Roasted Eggplant Salad with Cilantro and Lime.  I ate it for dinner last night, at room temperature.  I finished it off tonight though, and I have to say that even though it was really great yesterday, the chilling and mellowing overnight improved it and it was even better tonight.roasted eggplant saladRoasted Eggplant Salad with Cilantro and Lime
serves 4

1 lb. Asian or globe eggplant
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped garlic
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh hot green chilies (I used fresh jalapeños)
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts
If you use the Asian eggplant, cut them in half lengthwise.  If you use a globe eggplant, cut it lengthwise into quarters.  Cook these eggplant strips, skin-side down, on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, place all of the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cut the thick strips of eggplant crosswise into 2 inch chunks and add to the bowl.  (If you use globe eggplant, remove the peel first).  Gently toss well to mix the eggplant with the seasonings.  Mound the salad on a small platter, juice and all, and garnish it with a pinch of fresh cilantro leaves.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Tonight I made another salad from the same chapter, and it turned out to be kind of a variation on the theme of the eggplant salad–the dressing was very much the same.  This one may sound a little odd, but I loved it: Pink Grapefruit Salad with Toasted Coconut and Fresh Mint.grapefruit salad

The author goes into detail about the fruit called the pomelo, which is the fruit of choice for this salad.  I have never used it, but the author says that it is quite dry and easy to section.  Once, for a different recipe, I tried sectioning grapefruit, and they are not easy to section–I ended up making a big mess.  So since my HEB produce section did not have pomelos (big shock) I went ahead and bought a jar of already-sectioned grapefruit.  Much more expensive, but in my mind it was well worth the extra money.

Pink Grapefruit Salad with Toasted Coconut and Fresh Mint
serves 4

3 Tablespoons shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups bite-sized chunks peeled, sectioned grapefruit
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped shallots (I was out of shallots and I used green onions)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot green chilies
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint or cilantro (I used mint)

Toast the shredded coconut in a small, dry skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing often, until toasted.  Cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar and stir well to dissolve the sugar and form a smooth sauce.  Add the grapefruit, toasted coconut, peanuts, shallots, chilies, and mint, and toss gently to combine.

Finally, I made a dish called Nahm Prik Ohng, or Northern-style Dipping Sauce with Ground Pork and Tomatoes.  Apparently the “dipping sauce” idea comes from the author’s suggestion that you use pork rinds to dip up the dish, but…ew.  She also says it’s okay to serve it over rice, so that’s what I did.  It was delicious, and combined with the grapefruit salad, I thought I was in heaven.  Then I may have finished up the eggplant from yesterday.  I had to test it for y’all and see if it was better the second day, and it was.  You’re welcome.pork and riceNorthern-Style Dipping Sauce with Ground Pork and Tomatoes
serves 4-6

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped shallots (I used green onions)
1 Tablespoon red curry paste (available in Asian groceries and many supermarkets–not mine. )
1/2 pound ground pork
20 cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I used grape tomatoes and left them whole)
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
In a medium skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium heat and then add the garlic and shallots.  Cook, tossing now and then, 1-2 minutes, until they are shiny and fragrant.  Add the curry paste and cook, mashing and stirring well to soften, about 1 minute longer.

Add the pork and toss well.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, fish sauce, and brown sugar, and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring now and then.  Serve with cucumbers, green beans, cabbage, rice, or pork rinds (ew).

I love this book.  I will be cooking more from it

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