Thai Cooking

Thai cooking is a lot like Thailand, vibrant and full of surprising contrasts. From scorching red Thai chilies to deep indigo eggplant, Thai food is as colorful as an artist's canvas. Thai cooking reflects seven centuries of unity and diversity. Malaysia, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Europe have all tossed their own herbs and spices into Thai's cultural curry.

Thai food is a little like an orchestra and the trick is to balance the flavors. Lemongrass, fish sauce, limes, pummelos, palm sugar, cilantro, coconut and chilies are staples throughout Southeast Asia. And no Thai kitchen would be complete without nam pla, the fermented fish sauce that mellows and blends when combined with other Thai ingredients. Some well-known Thai dishes include sticky rice, green papaya salad and phad thai, a traditional cellophane noodle dish.

Pummelo Salad (Yum-Sum-O)

An exotic stir-fry of pork, shrimp, citrus and traditional Thai flavors. Elegant and easy to prepare.

Serves 4

Dressing

1/4 cup coconut cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1 pummelo, grapefruit, or orange
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 pound ground pork
1/2 pound medium raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

8 to 10 butter lettuce cups
2 tablespoons toasted shredded coconut
8 to 10 Thai or sweet basil leaves

Getting Ready

  1. Prepare dressing: For coconut cream, open a can of unsweetened coconut milk (do not shake it first) and spoon the thick cream off the top. Place cream in a bowl with lime juice, fish sauce, chili sauce, and palm sugar; whisk to evenly blend. Stir in green onion and set aside.
  2. With a sharp knife, cut off peel of citrus, cutting deeply enough to remove the white pith; cut out each segment, leaving membrane intact.

Cooking

  1. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add pork and cook until browned and crumbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. To assemble salad, stir citrus segments into dressing. Add pork mixture and mix well. Spoon salad into lettuce cups. Garnish each with shredded coconut and a basil leaf.

Copyright Yan Can Cook 2002