I wasn’t expecting Sunny to contribute a dish to our annual potluck. In recent times, with both sons grown, our New Year celebration has evolved from my cooking the traditional Japanese dishes by myself, to everyone pitching in with an Asian dish — no longer just Japanese — and cooking together in the Special Fork kitchen.
Sunny, my daughter-in-law’s mother, was visiting from Thailand and as a guest, wasn’t expected to participate in the cooking. But when she arrived with a bag of groceries and began making a salad, it was a welcome bonus!
I knew from the ingredients she unpacked — mint, lemongrass, chiles — that I would love this salad. Actually, it was so good, I had several helpings.
I learned later from Lynn that her mother developed this recipe to mimic a salad served at Fuji, a chain of Japanese restaurants in Thailand. I’ve never tasted the original, but I’m in love with Sunny’s salad, so I asked for the recipe to share with you.
Good all year round, this salad could be served as a main dish in the summer, when it’s too hot to cook.
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 head iceberg lettuce, torn
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, peeled and thinly sliced
1 to 3 Thai bird chiles, chopped (see note)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
1 can (7ounces) solid tuna in olive oil, drained
To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar; whisk until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, cucumber, mint, shallots, lemongrass, chiles and tomatoes, if using; toss to combine. Add tuna and dressing and toss again.
Serves 3 to 4.
- To prepare lemongrass, peel away fibrous layers. Use only the white part of the lemongrass, about the bottom 4 inches.
- The recipe originally called for 4 to 5 chiles; start with 1 and taste to see if you want to add the additional chiles. For an even milder flavor, seed the chile before chopping.
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