As the weather gets warmer, lighter meals, summer ingredients and grilling come to mind, so I decided to go with a Southeast Asian theme for my Cascade Platinum dinner party. Lighter food doesn’t mean lack of flavour, and Thai food always delivers on flavour. With salty, sweet, sour, and spicy in every bite, it satisfies all the taste buds.
The party was co-hosted with my partner in crime… yes @MightyVanilla is a great hand as always, but I was referring to Cascade Platinum. It popped up at the end of the night and thank god it did because we had dishes galore. We created a three course menu and used a million and one dishes for the mise en place.
We’re both pretty tidy and good with clean up, but it’s never something we look forward to, except on this occasion. We really wanted to test out these tricolour Cascade Platinum packets! So cute! And very aromatic (in a good way)! I could smell them as soon as I popped the lid open. In fact, as I was unloading the clean dishes the scent was still continuing to come off the dishwasher, so it acted as an air freshener. The whole house smelled clean, the dishes were clean, and even the dishwasher was sparkling clean. Triple win!
The following are recipes from my Southeast Asian Dinner Party with Cascade Platinum.
Burmese Tea Leaf Salad Recipe
The first time I came across this salad was actually at Burma Superstar in San Francisco in 2010. It was an instant love. A crunchy salad with lots of nuts and seeds is right up my ally. I’m a huge fan of textures, and this salad certainly has a toothsome chew. It’s healthy, full of good fats, and thus substantial.
The salad is savoury, fragrant, a bit tangy, and nutty, but I wanted sweetness to balance it out. So besides adding a bit os sweetened green tea with honey, I also added a ginger syrup. It is not traditional of Burmese tea leaf salads, but it tasted great with it!
The idea for the ginger syrup was random. I was eating a chilled tofu custard with ginger syrup and I decided to try a bit of the syrup drizzled on top of the salad. I was imagining Thai food (sweet, salty, sour, spicy) and I wanted to get all those flavour profiles in this salad. I’m pleased to say it worked!
Burmese Tea Leaf Salad Recipe
Photos and recipe testing by: Brenda
- 50g (1 cup) organic dried green tea leaves
- 4 cups hot water
- 4 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Pure Leaf iced tea
- 1/2 cup Pure Leaf Honey Green Tea
- 25g (1 cup) kale, finely chopped
- 10g (½ cup) loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
- 20g (½ cup) finely sliced green onion tops
- 5g (1 Tbsp) finely chopped garlic
- 10g (1 ½ Tbsp) very finely chopped or grated ginger
- 6 (1) green chili, very finely minced (or more to taste)
- 45g (3 Tbsp or from 1) lime juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 45g (3 Tbsp) vegetable or olive oil
- 10g (¼ cup) finely sliced green onion bottoms
- 17g (2 Tbsp) toasted sesame seeds
- 25g (3 Tbsp) roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 18g (3 Tbsp) roasted soybeans
- 26g (3 Tbsp) roasted pumpkin seeds
- 15g (3 Tbsp) dried shrimp, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained
- 20g (1 Tbsp) ginger syrup or honey
- 20g (1 ½ Tbsp) Fish sauce
- 15g (1 Tbsp) lime juice
- 3-4 additional lime wedges
Notes for success
- The tea leaves can be soaked ahead of time, up to 1 day before assembling the salad. The longer soak helps to remove the strongest and bitter flavours of the tea.
- After the tea leaves are soaked, the Salad should be assembled 2 days before serving as it takes time for the ingredients to cure and ferment.
- The Toppings and Dressing can be prepared ahead of time, and then very quickly tossed with the salad when it comes time to serve.
- Ginger syrup can be made by simmering equal weights of water, sugar and sliced ginger together. It makes a nice sweetener for tea or cocktails.
- Place the dried tea leaves into a large mixing bowl. Add the hot water, give the tea leaves a stir and allow them to soak for 10 minutes. While the tea leaves are in the hot water, use chopsticks or small tongs to pick out the tough stems that float to the top.
2. Drain the tea leaves well, add 2 cups of warm water, and use your hand to squeeze the tea leaves for several minutes. Discard any leaves with tough stems. Repeat once more with the remaining 2 cups of warm water.
3. Drain the tea leaves well and squeeze out any extra liquid. Add the iced tea and honey green tea to the bowl and let the tea leaves soak for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
4. Drain the tea leaves well and squeeze the leaves thoroughly with your hands to remove any excess water. Mix the tea leaves together with the kale, cilantro, greens onions, garlic, ginger, chili, lime juice and salt. Cover the bowl and allow the salad to ferment for two days, preferably in a dark cool space. After two days, the salad can be refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Heat the oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the sliced green onion bottoms and shallow fry for several minutes, until they turn light brown.
- Remove the onions from the onion, drain them on paper towel, and sprinkle with a small pinch of salt.
- Have all of the other topping ingredients ready.
- Whisk the ginger syrup or honey together with the fish sauce and lime juice.
- Add the dressing to the salad and mix well to combine. Taste and add additional salt or lime juice if needed.
- Serve the salad family style on a large plate. Arrange the toppings and extra lime slices around the salad.
Pok Pok’s Grilled Pork Shoulder with Spicy Dipping Sauce Recipe
A summery recipe, but one that can be enjoyed all year round. I haven’t been to Thailand in ages, but this made me crave more than the pork alone. I try and visit Asia at least once every two years, and my last trip was November 2013… which means I’m going again this year! Watch for #FMFinAsia July 2015!
“There’s nothing better to snack on while you drain tall bottles of Leo beer at a late-night (or late-afternoon) drinking joint. This is boozing food, without a doubt, a thirst-inducing combination of heat and meat – and awesomely chewy meat at that, not a cut that’s going to fall apart when you so much as look at it. Along with those slices of neck (a common sight in Thailand) comes a dead-simple dipping sauce whose requisite flavors are sour, salty, and viciously spicy. At Pok Pok, we pour the sauce over the pork, even though you rarely, if ever, see it serviced that way in Thailand. That’s because no one in Southeast Asia’s going to tentatively dip a corner of the pork, as whiteys tend to. The dish must be spicy, that’s its purpose.”
– Andy Ricker, from the Muu Kham Waan recipe in Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand
Grilled Pork Shoulder with Spicy Dipping Sauce
“Flavour Profile: Meaty, Fiery, Sour, Slightly Herbaceous and Peppery
Try it With: Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream, Stir Fried Rice Noodles. Needs lots of beer and sticky rice.”
– Adapted from Mu Kham Waan (Grilled Pork Neck with Spicy Dipping Sauce) in Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker
Serves: 4 to 8 as part of a meal
- 4g (2 large cloves) peeled garlic, halved lengthwise
- 2g (1 tsp) cilantro roots or cilantro stems, thinly sliced
- 12 black peppercorns
- 454g boneless pork neck or shoulder, sliced with the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slabs
- 15g (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) Thai seasoning sauce (Maggi seasoning sauce)
- 8g (2 tsp) granulated sugar
Spicy Dipping Sauce
- 30g (3 Tbsp) Thai fish sauce
- 35g (3 Tbsp) lime juice, preferably from Key limes
- 10g (2 Tbsp) minced garlic
- 6-12g (about 4-8) fresh red Thai chiles, thinly sliced (adjust to your spice tolerance)
- 15g (1 Tbsp + 1 tsp) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Notes for success
- Cilantro roots may be difficult to find since cilantro is usually sold with the roots cut off. The stems can be substituted instead.
- Roll the limes along the counter with the palm of your hand to help with extracting more juice.
- The spicy dipping sauce can be prepared while the pork is marinating. All of the dipping sauce ingredients except for the cilantro leaves can be mixed together ahead of time.
- It’s best if the cilantro leaves are stirred into the dipping sauce just before serving since the lime juice will start to wilt the leaves. However, I’ve successfully kept leftover sauce in the refrigerator for a few days.
- The marinade and spicy dipping sauce would be excellent with other Asian grilling meats such as chicken thighs or thinly sliced cross cut beef short ribs.
- Combine the garlic, cilantro roots (or stems), and peppercorns in a granite mortar and pound to a coarse paste, about 45 seconds.
- Combine the pork in a mixing bowl with the paste, seasoning sauce, and sugar and massage with your hands to coat the pork well with the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
- Heat a grill, preferably charcoal, or a lightly oiled grill pan to cook over medium heat.
- Cook the pork, flipping once, until it’s well browned on both sides, slightly charred, and just cooked through, about 8 minutes total.
Spicy Dipping Sauce
- Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, chiles, and sugar in a bowl and stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Right before you’re ready to serve, stir in the cilantro.
- Arrange the pork slices on a plate. Serve with the dipping sauce in a small bowl.
Pok Pok’s Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream Recipe
Corn doesn’t need much if it’s sourced well, but this is a delicious and inventive way to dress it up.
When Brenda told me about this recipe I was brought back to sweet memories of corn I had at Maenam. It was offered as a special that day, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It was like a Thai version of a traditional Mexican grilled corn with ancho chile, lime mayonnaise and Cotija cheese. Apparently this one gives the “Mexican stuff a run for its money”, so there was only one way to find out… well technically 2 ways. One would be going to Thailand, but this one is a bit more convenient and realistic, although living on the edge and impromptu trips for massive cravings I support 😉
“To my tastes, the corn in Thailand is, to be charitable, not awesome. But as soon as I tried this preparation from a vendor on the grounds of a Chiang Mai temple, I couldn’t wait to try it back home. The combination of rich, salty coconut cream infused with pandan leaf and America’s stunning sweet corn is so good it gives the mayo- and cheese-covered Mexican stuff a run for its money!”
– Andy Ricker, from the Khao Phot Ping recipe in Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand
Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream
“Flavour Profile: Sweet, Rich, Salty, Slightly Smoky
Try it With: Anything grilled”
– Adapted from Khao Phot Ping (Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream) in Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker
Serves 6 to 12 as part of a meal or as a snack
- 250g (1 cup) unsweetened coconut cream (preferably boxed)
- 10g (1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
- 3g (1 tsp) kosher salt
- 1 fresh or frozen pandan leaf, tied into a knot (optional)
- 6 large ears of corn, husked
- 6 lime wedges (preferably from Key limes)
Notes for success
- The cookbook recommends using boxed coconut cream as they’ve found that it tends to be the next best thing to making it from scratch.
- The corn can be boiled up to several days in advance but be sure to shock the corn in ice water immediately after boiling.
- The coconut cream would be delicious served over rice or with spicy grilled chicken or pork. It would also make an excellent accompaniment with tropical fruits such as mango, banana, or pineapple. (The Salty Coconut Cream is also used in the book’s recipe for sticky rice with mango, with the sugar and salt decreased slightly since it is being served with sweet ripe fruit.)
- Pandan leaves can be found in specialty Asian grocery stores. The leaves can be used to flavour steamed rice, in dessert preparations, and makes for a refreshing iced tea.
- Combine the coconut cream, sugar, salt and pandan leaf in a small pot. It’s fine if the pandan leaf isn’t completely submerged.
- Set the pot over medium high heat, bring the mixture to a simmer (don’t let it boil), then decrease the heat to low.
- Cook until the cream has thickened slightly and is infused with pandan flavor, about 10 minutes.
- Remove and discard the pandan leaf.
- (Optional) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the corn and cook until it’s tender and no longer raw, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Prepare a grill, preferably charcoal, to cook over medium heat or preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat on the stovetop.
- Grill the corn until it’s lightly charred in spots and nearly cooked through, occasionally turning the ears.
- Using a pastry brush, generously brush the corn with the coconut cream mixture. Grill for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Serve the corn with a drizzle of the remaining cream mixture and lime wedges for squeezing.