Layered Thai Salad
1 large pineapple, peeled and sliced into medium-thick rounds
4 skinned chicken breast fillets, coated with soy sauce and grilled till just cooked
6 large or 8 small spring onions, green and white parts separated
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, seeded but not peeled, sliced into thin rounds
1 medium bunch of basil leaves, coarsely shredded
200 g snow peas, blanched and cooled
1 medium bunch of mint leaves, finely shredded
½ cup fresh pineapple juice
¼ cup peanut oil
1 small seedless lime, unpeeled, cut into eighths
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2-6 fresh red chillies, deseeded or not, and roughly chopped (optional)
½ cup salted dry-roast peanuts, crushed into coarse crumbs in the mortar
1 head of soft-leaved lettuce
Cut the cores out of the pineapple slices and set the cores aside. Arrange the slices on the bottom of an attractive glass bowl.
2. Slice the chicken breasts thinly and layer on top of the pineapple.
3. Slice the white parts of the spring onions into thin diagonal (Chinese-style) slivers. Sprinkle over the chicken. Roughly chop the green parts and set aside.
4. Sprinkle the carrot shreds over the onions.
5. Layer the tomato slices over the carrots, and top them with the basil shreds.
6. Cut the snow peas into 1-inch lengths, on the diagonal, and scatter them over the tomato and basil.
7. Spread the mint shreds over the snow peas.
Make the dressing:
1. Place all the dressing ingredients plus the pineapple cores and the green parts of the spring onions in the blender and puree to a sauce.
2. Taste for sweet-sour-salt balance, adding palm sugar, rice vinegar or soy sauce if necessary (because of its rather addictive but not always appreciated flavour, I SOMETIMES add an extra touch of fishiness with a teaspoon of roasted "blacan" - Indonesian fermented fish paste).
3. Pour over the layered salad, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or up to eight hours.
1. Crumble the peanuts on top of the salad.
2. Serve a separate bowl of soft lettuce leaves for wrapping the salad.
3. The guests help themselves to lettuce leaves, pile some salad onto them, wrap them neatly and eat with their fingers
Pairs Well With
Decidedly Westernized, somewhat time-consuming to prep (I usually do it early morning for that day's dinner), but beautiful and fun to eat. Essentially a summer dish, but with a bowlful of steaming noodle soup and a cooling citrus yoghurt dessert, a perfectly satisfying and evocative winter meal. The amount of chillies you add, without or with their seeds, determine the degree of heat you desire or can take.