Monday, December 19, 2011
Rachael's birthday pineapple salad
I guess pineapple's really in season in the spring, but they've been on sale in all the stores here lately so I've been eating lots of them. I took a pineapple salad to a potluck last week--not my usual Indian one, but a Vietnamesish version I used to make for Rachael's birthday dinners. This salad's not as universally popular as the Indian one--only one person asked me for the recipe--but I like it equally well. A key ingredient is tuong cu-da, a soybean sauce which has a stinkiness similar to that of fish sauce.
SE Asian Pineapple Salad
A nice, ripe pineapple, peeled and cut up
a red bell pepper, cut into short strips
a couple of firm but ripe tomatoes, if there are good ones available to you, halved and cut into thin semicircles
a generous handful of peanuts, toasted in a pan on the stove and then roughly chopped
a shallot, minced
a chile, minced
herbs (coriander, Thai basil, mint--whatever you think will be good)
juice of a lime
tuong cu-da, the same amount as the lime juice
a clove of garlic, crushed
sugar (palm sugar if you have some), optional, depending on how sweet the pineapple is
Mix the salad ingredients together in a big bowl, and the dressing in a smaller bowl. Taste the dressing for balance of flavors before tossing it into the salad.
This sauce can be hard to find--when Annie and I were looking for it at the Viet Wah, where I'd bought it previously, a helpful employee directed us to the thick, cloudy fish sauces as they have a similar taste. When we said we wanted a fish-free sauce, she found a man who told us that they didn't carry it any more but that we could get it at nearby Minh Tam. If you can't find it and you don't care if your salad is vegetarian, fish sauce would be a good substitute; otherwise, try some regular soy sauce.