The Salad Of Necessity

I seldom use recipes, except in regards to pickling, canning and baking. These are the areas where chemistry matters. In all other things I have a basic recipe that I follow but almost always just wing it. Don’t get me wrong, I know what proportions to use, what the basic ingredients are and how something is supposed to taste. It’s just that I love the process of discovery when cooking and love to explore variations on a basic theme. I thought I would share a little of this creative process with you on a dish I made Tuesday afternoon to bring with me to a pot luck at my ceramics class. Sorry, no pictures as I am doing this from memory.

So, I need to whip something up for the last Raku class this evening. Last time I did that Orzo salad with the tomatoes from the garden and feta cheese and the leftover steak. That went over really well. Let’s see, I have some of the Oriental Roast Pork leftover from the party Saturday night that I need to use, maybe I can come up with something to go with that. How about another pasta salad? Nah, pasta salad is so over done, but I’ll bet nobody else will bring one. Well, if I call it Thai Noodle Salad with Roast Pork then it won’t be pasta salad, will it. OK I’ll start with the noodles. I have some whole wheat capellini and that can be a good substitute for Thai noodles. So I’ll start with:

½ lb whole wheat capellini (angel hair) pasta, cooked, drained and barely cooled

Now I need some pork and I really want this to be meaty because I know a lot of people will come right from work and won’t have had any diner. I also know that there is at least one vegetarian so I’ll put the meat in at the end and reserve some for the non meat eater.

1 lb Oriental Roast Pork (pork sirloin roast marinated with garlic, ginger, soy, honey, hot sauce, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, mirin) cut it into thin strips

Excellent, this is going to be really good. Now I need some veggies. What do I have in the house? Celery, nah, no celery in this one but I need something crunchy. How about cabbage? Hell yea, that will be great but I really want this to be about half noodles and half veggies. That way it will be a salad with noodles rather than a noodle salad so I’ll add:

2 cups finely shredded cabbage

That will be nice and crunchy and it is right in the wheelhouse of the whole Thai milieu. Now I need some color and something a little bit sweet. I have a bunch of red bell peppers in the fridge so I’ll add:

½ large red bell pepper cut into thin strips

I also need some more savory elements to this. I have some green onions and it definitely needs an oniony note. So I’ll add:

1 bunch of green onions finely chopped

Good, that is looking better but if it’s going to be a Thai salad I’ll need some pungent herbs and we have some basil and cilantro in the garden so I’ll add:

A big handful of chopped cilantro and basil

Looking good, nice and colorful but it still needs some more veggies. How about carrots?

2 large carrots, shredded

Man, that’s looking great. Now I need a dressing. I can come up with a good Thai dressing. I’ve seen a million of these on the cooking shows. It needs to be very bright and acidic but not too heavy. How about I put it in a jar and shake it up and then pour it over the salad.

3 tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs Killer Delicious Hot Cha Cha (ginger flavored hot pepper sauce or any kind of hot sauce you have around)
¾ cup canola oil

Damn, that is really good. I managed to make my loftover pork roast the star of a really nice dish. It looks great, has great color and texture, is easy to serve and eat in a pot luck setting and is both filling and nutritious. I would even go as far as saying that it is:

Killer Delicious!

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