Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Thai Salad Principle
I was reading a cook book called Pok Pok the other week at my brother-in-law's house. And I really liked the idea of Thai salad, which was essentially a cold stir fry. But I didn't have the book myself, and I was too lazy to turn the internet on to get 'authentic' recipes. This became a good moment to apply what I am now going to call the Thai Salad Principle. And that is, once you know the basic formula, you can simply experiment and taste. You know, like real chefs do.
So, in the case of this, we have several methods to adhere to. Cut everything (veggies, pickled veggies (I used gingered carrots in the bottom one and homemade pickled cukes in the top), fruit (I used Asian pear in the top), maybe meat (the first one above has strong dry sausage)) into small, bite sized pieces to be eaten with sticky rice or if you don't want carbs then with a spoon. A variety of textures is key. Then, "bind" everything together with a paste made with fish (or soy) sauce, lime juice, and heat (I used a chili-basil paste for these, along with coconut milk powder to soak up the liquid). Sweet, sour, spicy, salty, bitter, and savory. It's all there, and no cooking required. Delicious, quick, and almost healthy.
The point is, recipes are for suckers. If you want to be a good cook (or a good anything) you must learn the principle of the thing, and then apply it with your own creative power. Great chefs (or writers or scientists or...) do not become so by following rote formulas.