This blog is not supposed to be just about sweet stuff so I thought I'd share my current favourite salad. Again, it's a dish I saw made on Masterchef, but I've made it so many times now that I don't use a recipe anymore! And it's perfect for me right now, because I can get all of the ingredients really easily and it's quick to make. Anyway here's the recipe I started with:
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbs roasted peanuts
1 tbs dried shrimp, soaked, drained
2 bird's eye chillies
2 lime cheeks
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
6 snake beans, cut into 4cm lengths
2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled, cut into matchsticks
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs very finely chopped gula melaka (Malaysian palm sugar)
Juice of 2 limes
2-3 tbs fish sauce
Place the garlic, peanuts and dried shrimp in a mortar and pestle and pound to a coarse paste. Add the chillies and bruise gently - the amount of heat you want from this salad depends on how hard you bruise the chillies. Add the lime cheeks and bruise to release some juice. Add the cherry tomatoes, beans and cucumber and mix through gently with a spoon.
For the dressing, place the palm sugar and lime juice in a bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add fish sauce to taste and whisk to combine.
To serve, add enough dressing to coat the salad and then taste - it should be a good balance of sweet, salty and sour. Add sesame oil and mix to combine. Pile the salad onto a plate and drizzle with sesame oil.
Note: I've made a few modifications to this. I only use one garlic clove (and watch out if you don't mash it up well enough, a big chunk of garlic in the mouth isn't so tasty), I use more peanuts because I like them, I've never soaked the shrimp, one chilli is plenty for me and sometimes I even leave that out, I don't bother with lime cheeks since there's lime juice in the dressing anyway, I use whatever tomatoes I have, regular green beans work fine (but I do like the snake beans better), and after looking at this again I realized I haven't used sesame oil since the first time I made it! (I'll have to try that again, it'll probably make it even better) If you can't get palm sugar, regular brown sugar works ok but you might want to reduce the amount because it's sweeter. I also use less fish sauce. Just taste it and change it until it's good! Obviously it's a pretty versatile salad, and you can just change whatever you don't like. And in case you're worried, you can't taste the shrimp at all when it's all been mashed together.
Here's what the finished product looks like: