Salads are dishes consisting of raw or cooked vegetables, meat or seafood, which may be mixed with a sauce or topped with a dressing. They can be served as appetizers, main courses, side salad or dessert salad.
The word “Salad” originates from the French “Salade”; sharing the same meaning with the Latin word “Salata” meaning salty or from “sal” meaning salt.
Salads are hot or cold, classical or contemporary, cooked or uncooked, simple (with one ingredient) or compound (with many ingredients) and may also include leftovers from a previous meal or carbohydrate ingredients like pasta, fresh or dried herbs like oregano, poached or boiled eggs or even lentils.
Salads originated in Europe, predominantly from France, Rome and Greece in the early 1700’s. The cuisines of these places have always been very balanced and the intake of salads has helped them live a healthy lifestyle.
In the early 19th century, America picked up on the trend of salads and made it their own by developing the “Salad Bar” concept, wherein every restaurant would have an unlimited salad buffet as a starter for any meal menu. Countries such as Japan, Australia and China followed suit.
Making a salad is an art and has 4 components, each of the components plays a vital role in the final dish, and these are...
A base would generally comprise of leaves; giving a definition to the salad on a plate or platter.
Some popular leaves that could be used as a base of the salad: Spinach, Ice Berg Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Swiss Chard and Endive.
The body is the main ingredient in the salad and forms the focal point of the presentation and sits on top of the base. Some popular ingredients that could be used as a body for a salad are:
- Vegetables: Tomato, Cucumber, Corn, Capsicum, Celery, Avocado
- Proteins: Boneless chicken, Beef strips, Boiled/Poached egg, Prawns, Salmon and other Poached Seafood
- Beans: Soya beans, Mung beans(dried and sprouted), Chick peas, Cannellini beans, Red kidney beans
Dressing is used to enhance flavor and are poured over the body of the salad. Some of the ingredients used in popular dressings are:
- Vinaigrettes: Balsamic Vinaigrette, Citrus Vinaigrette, Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- Flavored Oils: Chili, Garlic, Herb Flavoured Oils
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise, Cocktail sauce, Tartar sauce
- Yogurt: Tzatziki
Garnishes add texture, color and give form to the salad. These could be of any kind, either raw or cooked.
Example, if the ingredients are raw then leaves of herbs like basil and parsley are used to garnish. In case of a salad with cooked ingredients, a Cherry Tomato, which has been grilled can be used.
Salads are actually creative dishes, that can be served at any point of the meal and here are some different kinds of salads:
- Appetizer Salad: a light salad to stimulate the appetite before the first course of the meal.
- Side Salad: which accompanies the main course as a side dish.
- Palate Cleansing Salad: which helps settle the stomach after one course or to refresh the palate between courses.
- Dessert Salad: these are sweet and usually contain fruits, gelatin or whipped cream and are served as desserts.
Salads are classified as simple salad when one or more primary ingredients make up the body. All the ingredients here are raw and fresh and with a single dressing.
A salad is classified as a compound salad if the body is made up of raw & cooked ingredients together and if there is a creative balancing of flavors, colors, textures & taste. A compound salad could be meat, fish, fruit or vegetable based.
A salad is classified as a green salad if it only includes raw ingredients; it doesn’t necessarily have to be plain simple greens, it could also be vegetables such as red bell peppers, pumpkins, beetroots & turnips.
Salad Recipe of the Day - Thai Beef Salad
About Thai Beef Salad
Thai salads often do not have raw vegetables or fruits as their main ingredients, but use minced meat, seafood and noodles instead. Outside of Thailand, it is common for Thai salads to have an addition of fresh herbs and other greens in their preparation.
Thai salads are not served as entrées but normally eaten as one of the main dishes in a Thai buffet, together with rice (depending on the region this can be glutinous rice or non-glutinous rice) or the Thai rice noodle called khanom chin.
This popular beef salad is not just an appetizer but also a delicious accompaniment, as part of any meal. Using fairly common ingredients, this Thai recipe is quick and easy to make. Grilling good quality beef, adding thinly slice vegetables, tossing with your very own Thai-style dressing and serving with fresh vegetables on a hot summer day makes this dish a great light lunch.
The Thai Beef Salad is tasty and juicy stir fried strips of beef, with sour & spicy dressing, mixed with noodles and thinly sliced spring onions, mixed greens, topped with roasted peanuts and a wedge of lime on the side.
Recipe Card (to serve 4 pax)
|Tenderloin steak (cut to thin strips)||350 - 400 g|
|Salt & ground black pepper||as required|
|Cooking oil||2 tbsp|
|Mint leaves (chopped)||1 tbsp|
|Fresh coriander leaves(chopped)||1 tbsp|
|Red onion (thinly sliced)||1/2 cup|
|Spring onion (thinly sliced)||1/2 piece|
|Thai red chili (finely chopped)||1 tsp|
|Sesame oil||1 tbsp|
|Soya sauce||1 tsp|
|Fish sauce||2 tbsp|
|Cherry tomatoes (quartered)||8 pieces|
|Cucumber (sliced)||1/2 cup|
|Brown sugar||1 tsp|
|Rice vermicelli (noodles)||2 handfuls|
|Mixed greens||1/2 cup|
|Lime (juice)||½ piece|
|Roasted peanut (roughly chopped)||1/2 cup|
|Lime (wedges)||1 piece|
|Thai red chili (thinly sliced)||1 piece|
|Spring onion (chopped)||1 tbsp|
Method of Cooking
- In a bowl, soak the rice noodles in water, until soft. Then plunge the noodles into boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the noodles and plunge in a bowl of cold water to stop the noodles from over cooking.
- Make a dressing by combining the chili, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, soya sauce and season with salt and pepper. Do a taste test to get a good blend of sweet, sour and salt, which is very important in Thai cuisine.
- In a mixing bowl, combine cherry tomatoes, mixed greens, mint leaves, fresh coriander, onions, spring onions, cucumber and noodles.
- Add the dressing and toss well.
- Season the beef strips with salt & pepper. In a wok/ sauté pan on high heat, add oil and stir fry the beef for 2 minutes until crisp and tender.
- To serve, place the cooked beef on top of the platted salad and drizzle with peanuts, chilli (optional) and lime wedges. Serve the rest of peanuts on the side.