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Hot Sour Salty Sweet: salads/ rice and rice dishes

February 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on salads and on rice and rice dishes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Aromatic Jasmine Rice, p. 90 – followed the instructions exactly (which matched the instructions on the Kalyustan bag – let sit for 10 minutes – next time might do 5 – seemed a little sticky to me. I did wonder if it is supposed to be somewhat sticky – I was surprised at the low water to rice ratio (I cooked 2 cups and so used 2.5 cups of water).

    Thai Fried Rice (p. 110) - I didn’t have any boneless pork, so I just used a couple of slices of bacon I had. The recipe calls for 2 cups of rice and says it is one serving, but I think it was plenty for two along with the other leftovers. The garlic started to get brown v. quickly, but I wanted the pan hot so that I would get that "smoky" taste.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      We love that Thai fried rice. So simple, so good. Make sure to use cold cooked rice. And definitely try a runny fried egg on top, it's so good.

      1. re: uptown jimmy

        What I want to try next time is adding tomato wedges - may sound strange, but that is how it was made by the cook in our house when I was a child and lived in Bangkok. She also added a little ketchup - heresy, I know.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Our Wei Chuan Chinese cookbook is full of recipes that call for tiny amounts of ketchup.

          Ketchup is a whipping boy for far too many people. It is just as ligitimate a condiment/ingredient as oyster sauce or black bean paste or anything else.

    2. Luang Prabang Fusion Salad (salat luan prabang - Laos, p. 78)

      Link to recipe online:

      I don't know why I picked this unique dish as the first one to try from the book, but what a combination of flavors. Really different from anything I've had before - I guess it's a variation of a traditional dish from Luang Prabang. It's a salad involving hard-boiled eggs and mixed greens and herbs tossed with two different dressings, a classic lime-chili-fish sauce with ginger and garlic, and a warm garlicky ground pork and vinegar dressing. I used a mix of bibb lettuce, slivered scallions, cilantro, and watercress. The fresh ingredients are tossed with first the still-warm cooked pork and vinegar dressing, and then with the lime juice dressing. Eggs are hard-boiled, with the whites used for garnish and the yolks mashed and added to the ground pork mixture. As I was making this, I was a bit leery (especially tasting the two dressings separately), but all the flavors really came together. Bright and tangy with a hint of heat from one sliced Thai bird chile. The dressing combo was tasty, but I don't think I was a fan of the texture of the wilted greens. If I made this again, I think I'd skip the lettuce, and serve it tossed with bean thread noodles instead. It's finished with slices of egg white and chopped peanuts. I know it's not the most appetizing picture (ha - I really have to buy some white plates, and the thick slices of egg whites look like calamari!), but here you go!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Rubee

        OMG don't let this picture or Luang Prabang Fusion Salad deter you from making this fantastic dish :) Hubs and I devoured almost an entire recipe last night. This explosion of flavorful ingredients will land on my permanent rotation of healthy evening suppers. I've been cooking from this book every weekend and lovin' it.

        1. re: Rubee

          I love eating Salat Lao (aka Salat Luang Prabang) and it's especially easy to make! I'm not positive, but I believe the reason why it's called "Luang Prabang Fusion Salad" is because it's a fusion of various ingredients and greens. The ingredients look pretty typical of a Luang Prabang salad.

          Since you don't like wilted greens, you can omit the pork from the recipe and then lightly toss the ingredients together (without "squeezing" or massaging the ingredients into the greens, which is the traditional Lao way).

        2. Simple Cucumber Salad (huanggua liangban - China), p. 72.

          It really is simple. I was running late, so I saved even more time by skipping the technique mentioned in the book, and just halving and slicing a hothouse cucumber. Tossed with both black and white rice vinegar and a bit of sugar and salt. Finish by sprinkling with fresh grated ginger. It was a great side dish to dinner tonight - served along with Thai jasmine rice and Aromatic Lemongrass Patties (p. 251) with Rich Lao Salsa (p. 39).

          2 Replies
          1. re: Rubee

            Oh, thanks for posting the reminder about that dish! I've got some cukes sitting in the fridge waiting for a home, and this may be just the ticket!

            1. re: Rubee

              (Noticed all my original pics are gone so reposting)

            2. Thai Fried Rice (khao pad - Thailand) p. 110

              We really liked this, will definitely be making it again. Much better than other attempts I've made at Thai fried rice, I think because of the balance of flavors and condiments. I used all the optional ingredients listed - stir-frying garlic (I used eight cloves for two of us and doubled everything else), and then adding thinly sliced boneless pork, leftover Thai jasmine rice, slivered scallions, and fish sauce. Served it with sliced cucumber and lime wedges, and garnished with chopped cilantro. I topped off our plates with a fried egg, and made use of fresh lime juice and spoonfuls of Thai Fish Sauce with Hot Chiles (prick nam pla), which I thought was key. I loved the whole combination, while my husband liked it with everything except the cucumbers.

              Pic of prik nam pla:


              Pic of Thai fried rice:

              1 Reply
              1. Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad (dau chua - Vietnam), p. 85.

                A simple pickled condiment. I used two carrots and one daikon radish, and a Benriner Japanese mandoline to slice them. Salt and drain, and soak in a rice vinegar and sugar bath. Sweet and crunchy, I made these to use in other recipes later this week, perhaps banh mi (p. 287), the Vietnamese noodle combo (p. 131), or goi cuon (summer rolls, p.177).

                1. I made two salads last night:

                  Simple Cucumber Salad (huanggua liangban - China) - I didn't have black rice vinegar, so used a combination of white wine vinegar and rice vinegar. The minced ginger added a nice sharp taste. I left the seeds in b/c my husband likes them!

                  Pomelo Salad (nyoam kroit t'long - Cambodia) - no Pomelo, so went with the ruby red grapefruit - I really enjoyed this dish - the flavors melded together very well - I think I used a little less mint that called for, and I think there was a *little* too much fish sauce, but over all, a winner. I didn't get around to serving it on Bibb lettuce, but I think that would be a nice touch.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Photos of Salads (they didn't load for some reason in the post above):

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Looks great! I made the grapefruit salad as well this weekend and liked it more than I expected. It sounded good but then when I started to prepare it, I was skeptical about how it would come together. I was a little nervous serving it to guests since the dressing is pretty pungent (I diluted w/ a touch of water), but everyone really liked it. I used fresh, crispy romaine instead of bibb lettuce. The mint was key. Very refreshing and pretty...

                    2. re: MMRuth

                      I've made several different Pomelo Salads over the years (love the stuff!), but never the one from this book until last night. I was a little sceptical at first, no shrimp? no dried shrimp? no cilantro? and what is the coconut doing in there? But in fact it is delicious and very balanced. i'll definitely be making it again.

                    3. Basic Sticky Rice (p. 91).

                      I used the steamer insert method. I soaked the rice in the morning, so it soaked for about 8 hours. Drained, and then placed it in a cheesecloth-lined steamer insert in a pot of boiling water. Covered tightly, and steamed for about 20 minutes. I served the sticky rice with Fried Beef Jerky (p. 218) and Stir-Fried Cabbage with Dried Chiles and Ginger (p. 157). I'm going to use the leftovers to make Coconut Milk Sticky Rice ewith Mangoes (p. 297).

                      1. Deep-Fried Jasmine Rice Balls (Laos), p. 105

                        The recipe says you can use freshly cooked or leftover rice. Next time I wouldn't use leftover rice. Mine was cold and dry and I couldn't get it to stick together into a cake, even with the egg. I compounded problems by adding another egg and some flour. It barely held together, and resulted in tasteless, crunchy, dry rice cakes. We each took a bite and then I threw them all out. The good news was that I served it with plenty of condiments and sauces so we were able to still make a nice meal - poppy seed/roasted green pepper salsa (p. 44), nuoc cham, and Thai fish sauce with chiles (p. 33), cubes of Vietnamese pork pate (cha que, p. 259), and fresh cilantro, chopped scallions, sliced cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot salad (p 85), bibb lettuce, and wedges of lime.

                        6 Replies
                          1. re: Rubee

                            That looks like a modified version of a traditional Lao dish called "Nam Khao" (fried rice ball salad). Rather than using regular ham, the traditional version uses Lao-style sour sausages called "Som Moo"/"Nam".

                            It's not supposed to be eaten as "rice balls", but the rice balls are supposed to be broken up into little chunks of rice and then made into a tangy crispy rice salad with sliced cilantro, green onions, mint leaves, etc... The rice salad is then eaten by taking a spoonful of the salad and placing it on a piece of lettuce and topped with fresh herbs and chili peppers. As you can see, it's eaten as a lettuce wrap.

                            1. re: yummyrice

                              Here's a couple of pictures of Nam Khao:



                              I couldn't upload the photos, so the links will do.

                              1. re: yummyrice

                                I can't seem to upload the photos. I tried uploading them again, but oh well.

                                1. re: yummyrice

                                  Thanks so much for the info and pics!

                                  The author mentions that they first had the fried rice balls in Vientiane, Laos, and the vendor would break open the balls of rice, which were made of rice with eggs and coconut, and then toss with fresh herbs and chopped pork skin.

                                  Your pictures of nam khao look like a dish I love at a Thai restaurant named Lotus of Siam. It's called nam kao tod and is crispy rice mixed with sour sausage, fresh herbs, chili, ginger, peanuts, lime juice, and served with cucumbers, lettuce, and cabbage. It's delicious.

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    This is a VERY late reply. =)

                                    You're welcome. And yes, it's the same dish. Lao chefs aren't just employed at Lao restaurants. They work at Thai restaurants, too. That's why so many Thai restaurants also offer Lao dishes in addition to the regular Thai dishes. In the U.S., it's quite common for Thai restaurants to hire Lao chefs because one of the reasons is that Thai chefs tend to make their foods very sweet, which is common and preferred in Thailand. However, in Laos, our foods are usually not too sweet. Another reason for hiring Lao chefs is that there are more Lao people in the U.S. compared to Thais.

                                    Regarding the Lao fried rice ball dish, "Nam Khao", "Nam Kao", "Nam Khao Tod" or "Nam Kao Tod" are merely different Western spelling/name variations of the same dish.

                                    Nam Khao (Tod) originated in Vientiane, Laos. So it's not surprising that the author first had them in Vientiane.

                                    Here's a recipe for you to try if you're interested:

                            2. Perfume River Rice p.111

                              The mound of cold unused jasmine rice in fridge begging to be used before expiration aided in my selection of this recipe. Loving fried rice in all its global incarnations didn't hurt, either, so I figured I'd give the Vietnamese version a try.

                              This one starts out in a mortar and pestle: a fragrant paste of lemongrass, dried shrimp, shallots, red onion with sugar is the base for the rice. Garlic is fried in a sizzling wok, the paste is added and fried to golden. Green onion slivers come next, then the rice, which is fried to heat and sear. Next comes the addition of toasted sesame seeds and a sprinkle of fish sauce, all is tossed to mix. Topped with cilantro, tomatoes and/or cucumber, and pepper, and served with nuoc cham.

                              Despite all the delectable ingredients in the paste, the rice didn't seem to be very highly flavoured. I would add more lemongrass next time, for sure. I also wasn't the greatest fan of the crunchy sesame seed bits mixed in the rice-would reduce or omit for round two.

                              I suspect that there are great versions of Vietnamese fried rice out there, so I will continue looking.

                              1. Som Tam with Yard-Long Beans p.76

                                This is a version of the classic green papaya salad with a twist, using snake beans in place of the usual pale green shreds. The beans, in lieu of shredding, are sliced lengthwise to mimic the slivers. Have you ever tried to make a long cut on an 18", 1/8" diameter string? It is about as easy as it sounds. 10 minutes later, I was still working on bean #4, and so threw in the towel with a dejected huff.
                                Onward, the dressing of the salad consists of dried shrimp, roasted peanuts, garlic, and sugar pounded to a paste. Also into the mortar goes a hefty dose of lime juice and fish sauce, and when mixed, the beans and tomato chunks. Next the beans are to be pounded to soften and slightly bruise in order to more readily soak up the flavours. "Be careful not to splash yourself" during this process, the authors so kindly warn. Hah! Careful though I was, I still ended up wiping sauce from my hair, my clothes, the wall. The page that the recipe is on is already sticking to the next, carelessly polka-dotted with peanut flecks and bean shards. For next time, I would pound the beans and *then* add the lime and fish sauce, gently pressing and mixing.

                                This was okay. Lots of bright flavours, or course, but I had to play with the seasoning to suit my tastes. Next time would up the fish sauce and lower the lime juice. An interesting version, no doubt, but I think I prefer it the best with papaya.