Thai Cucumber Salad is a popular side dish for many traditional Thai recipes. Learn to make Thai Cucumber Salad that will spice up any meal.See Transcript
Transcript:Thai Cucumber Salad
HI. I’m Erica Wides, a Chef Instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education, in New York City. And I’m here today for About.com. Today we’re making a Thai Cucumber Salad. It’s usually served as an accompaniment to things like Satays or other grilled meats.
Prepping the Ingredients for Thai Cucumber Salad
To make this salad we’re going to start out with a cucumber. This is a hot house cucumber. These are sometimes called seedless cucumbers. First thing we’re going to do, of course, is peel the cucumber. You want to cut it into quarters. So once the cucumber is quartered, length-wise, you want to slice it into slices that are about a quarter of an inch thick. The next thing that goes into the salad is a shallot. Shallots are used extensively in south east Asian cooking. We want to peel the shallot. Cut it in half through the root. It kind of locks everything in place for you. Once the shallot is peeled, we want to slice it very thinly. As thin as you can. The shallot will be eaten raw in the salad so the thinner you cut it, the more palatable it is.
Add Chilies to the Thai Cucumber Salad
The next ingredient is a red chili. These are called Thai bird’s eye chilies. These are very very hot. What you have to remember with chilies is that the smaller they are the hotter they are. You can wear gloves if you’re afraid of burning your fingers. Just remember whenever you deal with chilies after you touch them, don’t touch your eyes. Take off the stem and then cut the chili open. In half. Remove the seeds. Along with the seeds, you also want to remove the membranes that the seeds are on. So, I just scrape that out.
A lot of the heat in the Chili is in that membrane. Then I want to cut this chili into very fine little slivers. And these may be small, but a little goes a long way. So you really only need one.
Finish Adding Ingredients
The next ingredient is scallions or green onions. We just want to take off the root end. And, the tips, because the tips get a little dried up. And, if you see any leaves on the scallions, that maybe are sub par, maybe don’t look great, you can just remove those too. And then these get sliced up very thin. The next ingredient is, of course, fresh cilantro. So, I’m just going to very loosely chop the cilantro. Cilantro is an herb that the more you chop it the less flavor it has.
The next thing I’ll be adding to the salad is roasted peanuts. So put them in a dry saute pan, put them over a medium flame and just let them roast a little bit longer. The peanuts start to get freckled. So, I’m transferring those peanuts to my board. And now I’m going to give them just a rough chop. You could do this in a food processor if you wanted to. But, it’s actually pretty easy. We just want to break them up a little bit.
Thai Cucumber Salad Dressing
And now we move on to the dressing for the salad. Now, the key ingredient in the dressing is something called fish sauce. Fish sauce is made from anchovies that have been salted, packed in barrels, and allowed to ferment. And, as they ferment, the water in them exudes out and that’s what the fish sauce is. It has a very strong smell to it. But it has a very rich flavor. We’re going to use about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. This is something called Palm Sugar. We just like it because it has more of a complex flavor then just using plain white sugar. So we’re going to add about a half a teaspoon of palm sugar.
Now shrimp paste is made in a way that’s similar to fish sauce. Shrimp are taken and salted and allowed to ferment. Been then they’re ground up into a paste and you get this dark brown very pungent smelling paste. So, a little bit of that goes in. And then the last ingredient I’m adding is a half of a lime. So combine that and then we whisk. And you have to whisk to really get the shrimp paste and the sugar to dissolve.
Ok, once you have everything whisked together. Very important. You want to taste your dressing and make sure it tastes good to you. And then, what you can also do is, when you taste it, if you find that those are all in balance but it’s still a little strong is you can dilute this with a little bit of water. And the water will just tone it down a little bit and take it to where you want it.
Toss and Garnish the Thai Cucumber Salad
So, now that the dressings made we’ll pour it over the salad. And, give the salad a toss. And, I kept a few roasted peanuts just as a little more garnish.
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