Describing this salad in words transforms flavors and texture into language; thus, if you’re not familiar with salad flavor re-layering terms, you can quickly review them here, as this is the foundation for the technique described here.
The wonted flavor character of Siamese salad dressing is typically composed of short, layered phrases of flavor – sour, salty and sweet – at varying intensities. In this salad, using the most common ingredients, a simple division between the sweet and the sour-salty elements creates a dish with a new and unique figurative character. Furthermore, this abstract flavor line correlates taste with its equivalent texture; sharp and pointed on the sour side, but smooth, cozy and comforting on the sweet side.
Thin slices of medium- to well-done grilled pork neck are acid cured in a sharp sour and salty dressing, then rolled in thin flakes of roasted peanuts that bind to the meat like hedgehog spikes. The pork and peanuts are arranged on a bed of soft pumpkin slices cooked in soothing coconut cream, which thickens slightly into a naturally sweet and comforting white and yellow-orangey cushion for the meat. Last, thin threads of cooked chicken breast are used to garnish the salad.
When you take a bite of this salad, you get an uninterrupted sense of how the dish’s opposing flavors and contrasting textures reconnect. As you chew, the sour-salty pork and its crispy peanut spikes merge with the rounded and creamy pumpkin for a surprising final salad character.
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- 100 g pork neck meat (สันคอหมู) grilled to medium and cut into thin slices.
- 30 g chicken breast (อกไก่) cooked and pulled into thin threads
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin (ฟักทอง) cooked and sliced into equal shape bite-size pieces.
- 1 cups coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
- 1/4 part granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted roasted shelled peanuts (ถั่วลิสงคั่ว) flaked
- fresh red and green Thai bird’s eye chilies (phrik kee noo) (พริกขี้หนูแดง และ เขียว) optional, sliced crosswise into thin slices
- 1 part lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
- 1 1/2 parts fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
Prepare the peanuts:
- Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the roasted peanuts into flakes of a uniform thickness; set aside.
Prepare the chicken:
- Cook the chicken breast in boiling water.
- Once cooked, remove the chicken and pull the meat into threads while the chicken is still warm. Set aside.
Prepare the pumpkin:
- Remove pumpkin seeds and cut the pumpkin pulp into equal bite-sized pieces. Peeling is optional.
- In a pot, combine the pumpkin pieces with middle coconut cream, add the sugar, and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Keep simmering until the pumpkin pieces are almost fork-tender.
- Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. The pumpkin will continue to cook from the residual heat. Set aside.
Prepare the grilled pork:
- Slice the pork neck meat into 1/2” (1.5 cm) steak cut. Rub the pork with fish sauce.
- Charcoal grill the pork over low heat until medium done. As you grill, from time to time toss a handful of grated coconut over the hot charcoal to smoke the meat.
- When the pork is cooked, allow to rest before slicing it into thin, bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the salad dressing:
- Combine fish sauce with lime juice at a 1:1 ratio to create a sharp sour salty dressing.
- Optional – add fresh chilies cut crosswise into thin slices.
Assemble the dish:
- Place the cooked pumpkin on a serving plate.
- Toss the sliced pork with the salad dressing and let it sit for a couple of moments until the meat is fully cooked.
- Roll the pork slices in the flaked peanuts, one at a time, making sure the peanuts cover the pork on all sides before placing them on the pumpkin.
- Drizzle some of the remaining coconut cream and salad dressing on top of the dish, being careful not to wash off the peanuts from the pork.
- Garnish with the chicken threads and serve.