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Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A salad that breaks every rule, and won't leave you looking for your next course.

Lunch was half a pizza, maybe, or the heat of the day is still hanging on your skin. A big salad dinner sounds like the answer.

But even the big salads that purport to be meals leave us rummaging for second dinner a few hours later (unless we eat a lot of cheese on the side).

Not this one, from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It doesn't give us a chance to be hungry or dissatisfied -- but it does break every salad rule we know.

We think we're supposed to baby our lettuce, keep it cool, dress it sparingly.

But here you're dousing it in two dressings -- the first, fresh and punchy with lime and fish sauce; the second made largely of hot cooked pork and water, sparked with vinegar and thickened with cooked egg yolks.

Together they'll soak and soften the lettuce, plus heaps of cilantro and parsley and bashed scallions, and make a soggy puddle in the bottom of the bowl -- this is not a mistake. You'll want to drink it.


It comes together with the speed of any other salad or stir-fry (which, until now, you'd rarely lump together). You've done this all before -- just not all at once.

First, hard cook some eggs -- the yolks will be mashed up and stirred into the hot dressing, the whites there for more protein, and satiety.


Whisk together ginger, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chiles -- this is dressing #1.

Then gather your mise en place by the stove -- dressing #2 happens quickly.

Almost burn some garlic, then brown some ground pork in it. Then pour in sugar, salt, and hot water and scrape up the dregs.


Finally, stir in vinegar and those mashed egg yolks.


And pour it all over your lettuce, herbs, and scallions. Don't forget that other dressing.


Scatter on those egg whites and some chopped peanuts. Eat it all -- hot, sour, salty, sweet. Bright, meaty, herbal, cleansing, nourishing, enough.

Serve it with rice at the very most.

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

Adapted slightly from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia (Artisan, 2000)

Serves 6 to 8 

For the salad:

3 to 4 large or extra-large eggs, preferably free-range
2 medium heads leaf or Bibb lettuce, washed and dried
4 scallions, trimmed, smashed flat with the side of a cleaver, cut lengthwise in half or into quarters, and then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
1 cup cilantro sprigs
1 cup loosely packed, coarsely chopped or torn Chinese celery leaves, or substitute flat-leaf parsley sprigs

For the lime juice dressing:

1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 bird or serrano chiles (optional)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

For the cooked dressing:

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil or minced pork fat
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup rice or cider vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Nicholas Day for this one!

The Genius Recipes cookbook is here! (Well, almost.) The book is a mix of greatest hits from the column and unpublished new favorites -- all told, over 100 recipes that will change the way you think about cooking. It'll be on shelves in April, but you can pre-order your copy now.

Photo of Jeffrey and Naomi by Dominic and Tashi Alford-Duguid; all other photos by James Ransom

Tags: genius, hot sour salty sweet, salad, summer, laotian, french, fusion, jeffrey alford, naomi duguid

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Comments (21)


5 months ago Sara

Any way to substitute the pork for something vegetarian


8 months ago parrish

This is the most bizarre salad I've ever made! …and one of the most delicious,too. And, yes, I slurped the extra juices at the bottom of the bowl, too! Can't wait to make it again...


about 1 year ago Aparna Surte

I made this using napa cabbage instead of the lettuce and minced chicken. Added red chili powder to the chicken dressing and served it to family and friends. It was delicious and they loved it! Definitely going to make this again.


about 1 year ago cookinalong

The lime juice dressing is wonderful! Vibrant flavors, nicely balanced. But adding 3/4 c. of water just dilutes it too much. If I make this again, I'd cut the water in half, at least. It really cancelled out the dressing and made this a bit bland.


about 1 year ago ahelfeld

It was delicious. I have leftover dressing and am excited for tomorrow's lunch!


about 1 year ago Kack

A great meal! Tons of flavor. Next time I'll use rice and add a third head of lettuce. I only used 1/2 the dressing and it was plenty. For a one-dish meal, it only served 3 people. Although it was a bit strange having a soup and salad in one, we liked it!


about 1 year ago Horto

I don't get how you all can use the peoples recipes.
Those two have traveled the world to become what they are

do they know you post this?


about 1 year ago Debbie

I don't know how people can say this is a keeper if they've never tried it. But anyways- no one like this one :/ I was so excited to try it but it was just overwhelming. I don't know how else to explain it. Just too much.


about 1 year ago Debbie

We made this for lunch at work today. The flavors are great, and the peanuts add texture, but it seems like too much liquid. Without the peanuts, I would not have liked the texture. Also, after pouring the pork and dressing over the lettuce, ours did not look like the above picture!


about 1 year ago LauriL

Oh boy!!!!


about 1 year ago sheri

Definitely need to try and is a keeper.


about 1 year ago Yessica

this sounds incredibly yummy and satisfying. I must try this on the weekend. often after eating salad I too feel like I need to eat something else. The amount of protein in here gives me confidence.


about 1 year ago dryden

I often substitute mushrooms for meat in a recipe. That might work here. If I try it I will report back It does look good.


about 1 year ago Euro Kat

Hi all. This has me salivating. Unfortunately I am allergic to eggs. Do you think avocado might work instead of egg yolks? The white I can just leave out. If anyone has an idea, PLEASE send it my way! Thanks.


about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

The dressing will work without the yolks -- it will just be a little thinner and more tart, so you might want to start with a bit less vinegar. But avocado could also be good!


about 1 year ago ckhonda

i subsitute pork many times with ground turkey


about 1 year ago cookbookchick

Must. Try. This. NOW!


about 1 year ago Sana Abdulla

What can I substitute for pork?


about 1 year ago dc

Ground turkey, chicken or soy crumbles maybe...might have to add a tbsp. of some sort of oil depending on the fat content.


about 1 year ago Nicholas Day

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Just make this salad immediately.


about 1 year ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

What Nicholas said.