To further drive in my point that Southeast Asian food is a detante of flavors, temperatures, and textures, there is not one but two dressings in this salad. The first is minced pork in a sweet vinegar broth. The second is a salty sour nuoc cham. The mix is sublime.
Luang Prabang Salad Adapted from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (Artisan, 2000)
Serves 6-8 Total time 1 hr
1 pkg or ~14 oz bun (aka dried rice vermicelli)
2 heads butter lettuce, roughly torn
1 c Ngo Gai or cilantro, coarse chop
6 scallions, 2 inch juliennes
1 c celery or parsley leaves (I stole mine from my neighbor's untrimmed herb box)
1/4 c roasted peanuts, chopped
3 thai chiles, deseed, fine mince
1 clove garlic, fine mince
2 T lime juice
2 T fish sauce
1 T water
2 T peanut oil
1 thai chile, deseeded, mince
5 cloves garlic, fine chop
1 T ginger, fine chop
1/2 lb pork, ground or rough chop and mixed with 1 t salt
1 1/2 T brown sugar
3/4 c water
1/2 c rice vinegar
1/4 t ground black pepper
1. Hard boil eggs. I like to use my roommate Kasia's perfect recipe for eggs. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Add eggs. Boil for 11 minutes. Drain. Cover with cold water for 5 minutes. Crack. Leave for 5 minutes. Peel. **When you add the eggs, do not just drop them willy nilly in as they will crack. Carefully submerge them with a slotted spoon. We are not bombing Iraq here.
1a. Separate cooked yolk from white and place in a bowl. Mash with the back of a fork. Set aside. This will later go into the hot dressing. Slice whites in a beautiful fashion.
2. Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 10 minutes. Boil in a large pot as directed on the pkg. About 5 minutes. Drain. Rinse thoroughly with water. Set aside
3. Combine the contents of the cold dressing in a little bottle. Chill. Set aside.
4. 10 minutes prior to eating, make the hot dressing by heating oil over medium in a pan. Add garlic and ginger and fry for 20 seconds. Turn the heat up and add the pork. Brown for 2 minutes.
4a. Add the mashed yolks. Sprinkle the sugar and pepper evenly on top. Stir fry for 1 minutes.
4b. Add the water and the vinegar. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by half.
5. Assemble salad on a large platter. Cover the bottom with rice vermicelli, then butter lettuces, ngo gai, celery/parlsey leaves, and scallions. Pour on the hot pork dressing. Pour on the cold dressing. place the egg whites on top. Sprinkle with peanuts.
After eating, you will find a pool of delicious sauce. Sop it up with more noodles.