Exotic & Spicy Salads

Exotic and Spicy Salads, Part 1

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  by Dave DeWitt, Mary Jane Wilan, and Melissa T. Stock

Exotic & Spicy Salads

Part 2  Part 3



Tofu and Cucumber Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Sichuan Cucumber Salad

La Phet (Green Tea Salad)

Kula Greens With Ginger Chile
Vinaigrette and Caramelized Macadamia Nuts

White Radish Salad

Horn of Plenty Salad

Salata Tomatim Bel Daqua (Sudanese Tomato Salad)

As part of our summer celebration, we present three weeks of salads created expressly for chileheads. While health food fads come and go, the longevity of the salad speaks for itself. In fact, an entire discourse was written on salads in 1698 by John Evelyn, who allowed, “By reason of its soporiferous quality, lettuce ever was, and still continues, the principal foundation of the universal tribe of salads, which is to cool and refresh, besides its other properties” (which included a beneficial effect on morals, temperance, and chastity). While we can’t guarantee how the salads we’ve created in here will affect your character, we can promise that things have heated up just a little since Mr. Evelyn was dreaming about lettuce!

Our devilish selections of salads begins with Tofu and Cucumber Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce. Tofu is a wonderful addition to any meal as it perfect for absorbing rich flavors without all of the fat or calories. The next cucumber recipe, Sichuan Cucumber Salad, is not only good, it’s good for you with its dual punch of garlic and chile paste. It’s a cooling and refreshing salad to serve on hot summer days.

Our next recipe is one of the more unusual ones, La Phet, or Green Tea Salad. This dish was graciously provided by executive chef Renatto Buhlman from the Strand Hotel in Burma (also called Myanmar). You may want to make this salad if you feel a cold coming on, as it is full of garlic, whose healing powers are sure to help whip the common cold.

Another exotic recipe with an incredibly long title is Kula Greens With Ginger Chile Vinaigrette and Caramelized Macadamia Nuts, and the flavor of this salad is unique. Tropical macadamia nuts are readily available in most large grocery stores, specialty stores, and by mail order. A reminder–if you cannot get very fresh farm eggs, make sure you coddle the eggs first to avoid salmonella.

A recipe from the Russian Far East is White Radish Salad. Daikon is a large Japanese (oriental) radish; the name derives from dai (large) and kon (root). The spice from the radishes is contrasted with the addition of apples and sour cream. Another recipe with contrasting tastes is Horn of Plenty Salad, which has plenty of blue cheese and crunchy walnuts. Once again, apples temper the taste for a fine meld of flavors, all blended with the zing of poblano chiles.

Finally, our friend David Karp enjoyed the Sudanese Tomato Salad while on assignment for us in London. The recipe is easy yet delicious, and is best made with the freshest tomatoes available.

So enjoy these diverse and delicious salads of these hot summer days.

Tofu and Cucumber Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This super spicy salad was created using a hybrid of Indonesian/Thai satay and Sichuan/Hunan peanut sauces. It transforms mild-mannered tofu and cukes into a memorable salad. Serve it with grilled meats or seafood.

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, or sesame chili oil

  • 1/4 cup ground red New Mexican chile

  • 1/2 cup mushroom soy or regular soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce

  • 1/4 cup sambal badjak (found in Asian markets) or substitute 1/4 cup sautéed onions

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts, or substitute 2/3 cup chunky peanut butter

Tofu and Cucumber Salad:

  • 1 medium Napa cabbage, green or red cabbage or iceberg lettuce, shredded

  • 1 pound block firm tofu, cut in 3/4-inch cubes

  • 3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cubed

Sauté the garlic in the oil in a pan until golden. Stir in the chile powder and then stir in the soy, hoisin, sambal badjak, vinegar, and peanuts. Bring the mixture to a simmer, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly. Using a hand blender, food processor, or standard blender, process the mixture until it is very smooth and let it cool thoroughly.

Divide the cabbage between 6 salad plates and arrange the tofu and cucumber in an attractive pile on the top. Drizzle with the peanut sauce and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

Sichuan Cucumber Salad

This unusual salad is from Martin Yan, who gave it to us some years ago, but it still holds up well. It is easy to make and easy to eat! The ingredients all meld together to produce a salad with that is excellent to serve with almost any dish.

  • 1 large cucumber

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground toasted Sichuan peppercorns

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon Asian Chilli Garlic Sauce, or substitute your favorite Asian chile paste (found in Asian markets

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Combine the cucumber slices and salt. Stir to coat and let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat the cooking oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and Sichuan peppercorns; cook until fragrant. Remove to a bowl and let cool. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and mix until well blended. Pour over cucumber slices and mix well. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

La Phet (Green Tea Salad)

This recipe was collected by travel editor Richard Sterling on his trip to Burma. It was created by Renatto Buhlman, executive chef of the Strand Hotel. Renatto says to use the best quality, unscented tea available. At the Strand they give you a fork, but everywhere else you eat this with your fingers. Serving suggestion: La Phet makes an excellent appetizer with chips and a lager beer or a dry sparkling wine. In Hawaii, you might try a Maui Blanc dry pineapple wine. At any rate, don’t take it with iced tea!

  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil

  • 1/3 cup loose green tea leaves

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

  • 3/4 cup finely shredded Napa cabbage or bok choy

  • Juice of 1/2 lime

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

  • Garnish: Lime wedges and whole dried red chiles

Fry the garlic in 2 teaspoons of the oil in a pan until it starts to turn brown. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, combine the tea leaves and the rest of the oil, and, using your fingers, knead the oil into the leaves until the oil is well distributed. Let the mixture sit at least one hour or until the leaves soften. If your tea is extremely dry, you may want to add a few drops of water.

Add all other ingredients, including the garlic, and mix well. Garnish with lime wedges and chiles and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Kula Greens With Ginger Chile Vinaigrette and Caramelized Macadamia Nuts

When Melissa attended the Chefs’ Festival at the Kapalua Wine Symposium, Roger Dikon (executive chef of the Maui Prince Hotel), gave her this exotic and terrific recipe. Serve it at your next party to really impress your guests with your good taste.

The Dressing:

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 1/3 cup minced ginger

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, Japanese shoyu preferred

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 fresh chile piquins, stems and seeds removed, diced, or substitute serranos

  • 1 1/2 cups macadamia nut oil or substitute peanut oil

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a blender or food processor, mix the egg yolks, ginger and soy sauce for 10 seconds. Add the vinegar, sesame oil, honey, salt, mustard, and chile and mix well. Blend or pulse at low speed and slowly add the oil. As the dressing thickens, slowly add the water and lemon juice. Chill before serving.

Caramelized Macadamia Nuts:

  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 3/4 cup diced Macadamia nuts

Heat the sugar in a heavy skillet until it melts. Stir in the water and add the nuts and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are sugar coated and the water has evaporated. Cool to room temperature.


  • 1 1/2 cups Kula greens (mixed baby lettuce)

  • 1 cup dried mixed fruit, such as papaya, mango, cherries or raisins

To assemble the salad: Thoroughly toss the dressing with the greens until well coated. Sprinkle in the dried fruits and garnish with the macadamia nuts.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Medium

White Radish Salad

Sharon Hudgins discovered this recipe when she was living in the Russian Far East, where it was made with large white Japanese daikon radishes. The same recipe would be made in European Russia with the large, bulbous white radishes that grow there.

  • 2 large daikon radishes, peeled and shredded

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • l to 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and shredded

  • 4 to 6 tablespoons sour cream

Place the daikon in a bowl and sprinkle the salt and sugar over the top and toss to mix well. Let the radishes sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Transfer the radishes to a large sieve and press firmly on the shredded pieces to get out as much moisture as possible and discard the liquid.

Return the daikon to the bowl, toss with a fork to separate the pieces, and add the chopped hard-boiled eggs and shredded apple. Stir in sour cream, mixing gently but thoroughly and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat scale: Mild

Horn of Plenty Salad

The “horn” in this salad is actually a roasted poblano chile. The stuffing is a zesty mixture that is both rich and refreshing, with a contrast of textures. Serve it with a Mexican meal.

  • 4 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeds removed, stems left on

  • 2 cups finely diced apples, such as Pippin

  • 1 fresh lemon

  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

  • 4 cups mixed salad greens

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Allow the poblano chiles to reach room temperature before peeling them, being careful to keep the chiles whole and not tear them. Place the chiles on paper towels and refrigerate them.

Place the apples in a ceramic bowl and squeeze just enough lemon juice to lightly coat the apples. This step will prevent the apple from turning brown and keep them attractive, especially if this dish is prepared an hour or two ahead of time.

Combine the cheese and walnuts with the apples and toss. Stuff this mixture into the poblano chiles.

Arrange the stuffed chiles on a bed of greens.

Whisk the olive oil and vinegar together in a small bowl and pour the dressing over the chiles and lettuce. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Salata Tomatim Bel Daqua (Sudanese Tomato Salad)

If you’re lucky, like David Karp, you have friends all over the world who prepare incredible adventurous meals. David discovered this recipe while exploring hot and spicy London. There he met Yousif and Katie Mukhayer, who served this at a splendid Sudanese banquet in their home.

  • 5 tomatoes, seeds removed, diced

  • 4 green onions, finely chopped

  • 1 to 2 small green chiles, such as Thai, stems and seeds removed, minced

  • 4 sprigs Italian parsley, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

  • Juice of 2 limes

  • Salt to taste

Combine the tomatoes, green onions, chiles and parsley in a bowl and set aside.

Whisk the oil into the peanut butter until smooth. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt. If the dressing is too thick, thin with a tablespoon or two of water.

Gently toss the vegetable mixture with the dressing until lightly coated.

Yield: 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium


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