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Author Notes: A salad that breaks every rule, and won't leave you looking for your next course. Adapted slightly from Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia (Artisan, 2000). —Genius Recipes
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 and the cooked dressing
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 bird or serrano chiles (optional), minced
- 3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 9 to 10 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil or minced pork fat
- 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
- Put the eggs in a saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a gentle rolling boil for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Tear the salad greens into large coarse pieces. Place all the greens, including the scallions and herbs, in a large bowl and set aside.
- Peel the hard-cooked eggs and cut crosswise in half. Transfer the yolks to a small bowl and mash; set aside. Slice the whites crosswise and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the ginger, chiles, fish sauce, lime juice, and 1 to 2 cloves' worth of minced garlic; set aside.
- When you are ready to proceed, put the remaining dressing ingredients near your stovetop. Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat. Add the oil or fat and heat for 20 seconds, then add the remaining 8 cloves' worth of minced garlic. Stir-fry briefly, until the garlic starts to change color, about 20 seconds, then toss in the pork. Use your spatula to break up the pork into small pieces as you stir-fry. Once all the pork has changed color completely, after 1 to 2 minutes, add the salt and sugar, then add the hot water and bring to a boil. Add the vinegar, add the reserved mashed egg yolks, and stir to blend.
- Pour the hot liquid and pork over the prepared greens and toss gently. Pour the lime juice dressing and toss. Transfer the salad to a large flat platter (or to individual dinner plates) and mound it attractively. Sprinkle on the chopped roasted peanuts, arrange slices of egg white attractively on top, and serve immediately.
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