What’s Cooking

Back when we lived in Ottawa in the 1980s Saturday morning was the home/cooking/gardening show ghetto on PBS. Julia Child ruled the airwaves when it came to things culinary. However there was also Justin Wilson with his Cajun recipes and Madhur Jaffrey with her Indian and Asian dishes.

Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery was a fascinating look into Asian food beyond the Sub-Continent. An interest in Thai and Vietnamese food was just starting to take off in North America. Thai and Vietnamese restaurants were popping up and ingredients were appearing in the regular markets. I immediately ordered the book that went with the series.

Many of the recipes included ingredients that were very expensive or would have to be used up within a short time span so were impractical. However I ended up with two favourites that used things to hand or easily obtainable at the time. This Vietnamese salad or Yam has been a long time favourite. Yes I know it sounds fussy but it can all be done well in advance. It is particularly refreshing on a summer’s day for lunch.

Chicken, Shrimp*, and Fruit Salad – Yam Polamai
– serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course
Chalie Amatyakul – Oriental Hotel, Bangkok
From Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery

Ingredients:
1 large, firm, sour apple such as a Granny Smith
150 g/5 oz medium to larger red or black seedless grapes
150 g/50z medium to large green seedless grapes
1 medium orange
100 g/4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
8 medium or 16 small uncooked, unpeeled shrimp
4 tbsp roasted peanuts lightly crushed
4 tbsp deep fried garlic slivers – available in most Asian grocery stores
4 tbsp deep fried onion/shallot slivers – available in most Asian grocery stores
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
3-4 hot green chilies
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves

Preparation:
Peel and core the apple then cut it into 1/4 to 1/3 inch dice and put into a bowl of salted water. Set aside.
Cut the grapes in halve lengthwise and put into a bowl. Peel the orange, separate the segments and skin as best you can. Cut the segments crosswise into 1/3 inch pieces. Lay them over the grapes with any juice and set aside covered.
Cut the chicken into long thin strips and put them into a medium frying pan. Cover them with water and a 1/2 tsp salt and simmer gently for five minutes until cooked through. Remove from the water and shred or cut into 1/4 to 1/3 inch dice.
Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Bring the chicken poaching water back to a simmer and add the shrimp. Simmer at a low heat, stirring for 2-3 minutes until just cooked through. Drain and cut into 1/4-1/3 inch dice, combine with the chicken and set aside covered.
Combine salt, sugar, and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside. Cut the chilies into fine rounds. Wash and dry the coriander. Set aside

Serving:
Just before serving drain and pat the apple dry. Set some of the onion/shallot and coriander leaves aside for garnish.
Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and taste for seasoning.
Bring to the table on individual plates garnished with the reserved onion and coriander.

Note that other fruits may be used including mango, papaya, Asian or regular pears.

*The original called for prawns which are difficult to find in North America – shrimp will do just as well.

The first few times I made these I wasn’t aware that you could get deep-fried garlic and onion slivers at Asian grocery stores; so as per the original recipe did them myself. It was an onerous task and frankly meant I didn’t make the dish all that often. Now when I make this dish my motto is: if you can buy it, why fry it?

The word for May 24th is:
Salad /ˈsaləd/: [noun]
A cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables or fruits, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients.
Late Middle English: from Old French salade, from Provençal salada, based on Latin sal ‘salt’.

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