Before going to Africa I went to this lovely place called Ohio for a culinary weekend at the Hide Away Inn. I don't want to talk about the details of the weekend--in fact I'd like to forget the details of that weekend. However, the inn was adorable and the food--oh my--I could not wait to finally have time in my schedule to make this soup and salad. Thai food usually comes with a kick that, when well done, simply wakes up the taste buds to enjoy the lime-ginger-lemongrass-curry flavors that dominate Thai dishes. I've heard it said (so I can't take credit for this analysis) that Thais have perfected the sweet-spicy-savory flavor combinations. Cucumber Salad:
1 large cucumber
3 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup diced red pepper (I used green bell peppers--they are half the price of the red peppers for no reason that is apparent to me)
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro (I tore my cupboard apart and still couldn't find even dried cilantro, it's fine without)
1/4 roughly chopped dry-roasted peanuts (didn't have this either)
2 tablespoons lime juice (or juice from 1/2 a lime)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (don't mind the smell, your food won't taste that bad)
1/2 teaspoon oyster paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Wash and dice the cucumber. Add spring onion, peppers, and cilantro and peanuts (if you have them) to the cucumber in a large bowl.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients with a fork or whisk to make a dressing. If it turns out you don't have oyster paste lying around but you do have musaman curry paste collecting dust in the cupboard, replace oyster paste and cayenne pepper with curry paste (something likely to be incredibly spicy if it's anything like this curry). The substitution worked out perfectly.
Coconut Lime Soup:
2 14-ounce cans of coconut milk
2 cups water
2 tablespoons minced ginger root
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (this is what Thais use instead of salt, fyi)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
dash of cayenne pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Bring coconut milk and water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Mince ginger root in a garlic press and add to stock. Stir in lime juice, fish sauce, turmeric powder and cayenne pepper. Season to taste. Add half of the green onion. Simmer soup for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve and garnish with remaining green onion.