This salad has such a following among westerners because its flavors are so refreshing. The tang of lime juice, the fragrance of fresh herbs and the nutty aroma of roasted rice make it unlike any other salad. It can be based on beef, chicken or venison.
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons Pepper, Garlic and Coriander Paste (see page 172) or
- Charmaine Solomon’s Thai Barbecue Marinade
- 500 g (1 lb) premium minced beef, chicken or venison
- 3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
- 3 tablespoons roasted rice powder
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 stems lemongrass, white portion only, finely sliced
- 1 large red onion, finely sliced
- 6 spring onions , finely chopped
- 2 fresh red chillies, sliced (optional)
- 6 sprigs fresh mint
- 6 sprigs fresh coriander
- a few leaves of Vietnamese mint (rau ram)
- lettuce leaves
Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and gently fry the paste for a minute or until fragrant. Add the meat and stir-fry on medium heat until all pinkness has gone. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn into a bowl and leave to cool. Finely shred the kaffir lime leaves into thread-like strips, discarding the tough mid-rib.
Sprinkle roasted rice powder over the beef. Stir together the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the meat and mix well, adding all the other ingredients except the lettuce. Chop the fresh herbs just before adding so they don’t lose their colour. Pile meat mixture on lettuce leaves and serve.
Note: Roasted rice may be purchased in small packets in Asian stores. If you cannot find it, make it at home by roasting ½ cup raw rice grains over low heat in a heavy pan, stirring constantly, until they are golden brown. This takes about 10 minutes. Grind to powder in a blender and store in an airtight jar.