Having survived a smothering by skies saturated with endless columns of cumulonimbus that almost caused a repeat of the Great Flood, I spent the first clear day chasing the sun at my local food market. During the rain, I sought the warm cocoon of spicy curries and deep, rich soups. But all that forced hibernation made me want to run out of my cave and inhale the freshly-spun sunshine. And the market was buzzing with infectious energy; I even spotted shocking pink, people-watching gerberas peer eagerly above their white buckets.
There was fresh produce everywhere – glowing bottle green cucumbers, cornelian carrots, perfumed basil and thyme, red-blooded plump tomatoes and happy, yellow lemons. They all screamed salad! So after overloading my baskets and popping over to my favourite Polish sausage-maker for a juicy leg of smoked turkey, I all but skipped my way home to an afternoon of salad and sauvignon blanc (yes it was as decadent as it sounds).
Any time you open my kitchen cupboard you are sure to meet a few Asian ingredients that are permanent residents there – fish sauce or nam pla, dark soy, noodles of diverse composition, shape and size, dried shitake, rice wine vinegar, Thai red curry paste,coconut milk, dried kaffir lime leaves etc. These not only have long shelf lives, they are friends that bail me out when I have to dish-up a meal in a hurry. So when there’s a quarter bottle of fish sauce left, I make sure to buy a new one…heaven forbid if I have to manage without it for a few days. Sounds like I have OCD and maybe I do just a teeny-weeny bit, but a cupboard stocked with these life-savers is like having a wallet-full of cash for me.
This salad is the kind you want to do with minimal fuss and mess but score big on flavours. Since I had plenty of fibre and vitamins in terms of crunchy veggies, I used smoked turkey to provide the protein and flat Thai rice noodles for the carb content. Cooked or smoked chicken, duck or any other poultry would be fine too. And so would any other noodle of your choice, although rice noodles make for a lighter and healthier meal.
- 300 g Thai rice noodles
- 300 g smoked turkey thigh or breast, cut into long thick slices
- 1 large cucumber halved and sliced into 1/2 mm-thick semi circles
- 2 medium, young carrots peeled and cut into ribbons (use a potato peeler as you would to peel a carrot, to get ribbons)
- 1 cup fresh coriander chopped
- 1 fat garlic clove roughly chopped
- 2 spring onions finely chopped
- 2 fresh red chillies chopped
- 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
- 11/2 tbsps Thai fish sauce
- 2 tsps sesame oil
- 11/2 tsp sugar
- Soak the noodles in warm water for 7-10 minutes, rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly.
- In a pestle, grind together the garlic and chillies into a coarse paste and mix in the sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil and lemon juice.
- Place the noodles, turkey and vegetables in a large bowl and pour the chilli-garlic dressing over. Toss lightly. Sprinkle the coriander and spring onions on top and using your fingers toss again with a light touch. Serve.