Asian Dressing for Lettuce

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The Asians are renowned for their great salads, wonderfully inventive and full of flavour and texture. Asian salads differ from western salads in that they tend to be a collection of ingredients, often warm such as crisp pork, minced chicken or freshly cooked seafood such as prawns and squid.

Unlike western salads, lettuce does not play an integral part in the composition of a salad but that does not mean it cannot be used. The Vietnamese and Thais in particular use a lot of herbs in their salads so try adding some picked but not chopped mint, dill or coriander.
When making salad dressings do not be tempted to make too much, a large batch does not keep well and a dressing containing chilli will only get hotter. It is important to taste the dressing at each stage of its preparation so as to get an understanding of balance; recipes should be used as a guide only as there are many contributing factors to getting the right result. When a recipe calls for fresh chilli, cut a little piece and taste it first.

Chillies vary enormously in strength from the mild Dutch variety common in supermarkets to the searingly hot birds eye and habanero. Authentic Asian recipes tend to be chilli hot, suited to the taste buds of their own people so it is always wise to err on the side of caution when following a given recipe. Perhaps the most important stage of salad composition (Asian or Western) is the final one; the dressing. Once again it is better to be cautious when adding the dressing; too much and the salad will be soggy and taste of little else other than the dressing, too little and the salad will taste dry and dull. Check the salad for seasoning, a little freshly ground pepper or a sprinkle of salt can lift the taste, although be wary of the latter if fish sauce is called for in a dressing.

Thai Salad Dressing: Nam Jim
Vietnamese Salad Dressing: Nouc Cham
Japanese Salad Dressing: Ponzu

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