Friday, May 27, 2011

Refreshing Thai Cucumber Salad

Tamarind Juice
Featured Ingredient: Tamarind Juice

Last weekend the cuisine of choice was Thai.  Grilled Lemongrass Pork Tenderloin, Bok Choy, Basmati Rice and a Refreshing Cucumber Salad.  Of all these, I thought the Cucumber Salad had the best blend of flavors.  After it was portioned out, my husband asks me "Did you take a picture?"  In the rush of putting all the elements of dinner together, it completely didn't occur to me that I used a canned ingredient. I even served it in one of the dishes I use for my photos.

In my defense, I normally don't put recipes on my site if the item hasn't been tested or came out well. Sometimes it's frustrating when I take pictures throughout the prep and find the final product is average at best. I hadn't tried this salad before, so I didn't know this Thai-inspired vinaigrette would be a perfect blend of sweet, sour, salty, spicy with a bright crunch. Next time I make it I will add the finished photo. 

OK, while this recipe fits well with Time Saving... Tamarind Juice is not the most run of the mill ingredient.  However, if you live in or near a metropolitan area, this can be found rather easily in International Markets, or even in a large chain like a Stop & Shop in more ethnically diverse communities.

Tamarind has sweet and sour taste and there is no clear cut substitute.  I found some sites on the web that recommend how you can reach a similar taste profile.  But I haven't tried them, so I don't feel comfortable endorsing them.

This recipe is borrowed from All Recipes.  I thought it was so perfect in flavor, it didn't need any modifications. I ended up using Honey Roasted Peanuts, because as I was making dinner I realized we didn't have any peanuts.  So I sent my son out to get some.  Even though he called me on his phone to confirm what I asked for he still brought home the wrong thing.  Maybe he has a secret culinary talent, because they actually worked really well with the other ingredients. 

Never trust a 14 year old boy with his head in the clouds to do your grocery shopping.  But as he loves food like I do, he is one of my best critics.

Refreshing Thai Cucumber Salad
Serves 4

1/2 cup tamarind juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons toasted Asian sesame oil
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
2 cucumber, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Slice 2 English cucumbers in half lengthwise then cut the slices cross-wise. Add cucumber and coat with vinaigrette.  Cover and let sit in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving.

This is perfect summer side for grilled meats.

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