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Served as an af­ter-din­ner dessert or a re­fresh­ing start to the mid­day meal, South­east Asia’s sal­ads blend the na­tion’s un­beat­ably fresh fruit and veg with some startling se­cret in­gre­di­ents

Southeast Asia Globe - - Contents -

GADO-GADO, INDONESIA

Gado-gado’s blend of lightly boiled veg­eta­bles doused in a rich peanut sauce is never the same twice. It comes gar­nished with halved boiled eggs, steamed rice and tra­di­tional In­done­sian krupuk crack­ers for a savoury salad that is a com­mon fea­ture of the road­side stalls and hawker’s carts along the na­tion’s wind­ing streets. Although the veg­eta­bles used vary by re­gion, the key here is the sauce – made from freshly crushed peanuts mixed with sweet palm sugar, salt, gar­lic, chill­ies, tamarind and lime. It’s best eaten with rice, and makes a whole meal in it­self.

DUCK’S BLOOD SALAD, CAM­BO­DIA

Not a snack for the squea­mish, Cam­bo­dia’s kahnh, or duck’s blood salad (also widely en­joyed in Laos), is up there with deep-fried taran­tula and chicken eggs plump with fer­tilised em­bryo for dar­ing din­ers. Typ­i­cal recipes start off with the chef fondly re­count­ing their fa­ther cut­ting the throat of one of the fam­ily ducks. A steady hand and a splash of fish sauce stops the blood from fully co­ag­u­lat­ing. With­out this in­gre­di­ent, the salad is fairly fa­mil­iar: minced duck breast, green beans and bean sprouts mixed with shal­lots, gar­lic, palm sugar and fish sauce. It’s the half-con­gealed blood sat­u­rat­ing this salad that makes the ex­pe­ri­ence un­for­get­table.

KERABU, MALAYSIA

This light, re­fresh­ing and cu­ri­ously pun­gent meal starter is a main­stay of both Malay and Per­anakan cui­sine. One fa­mous recipe calls for finely sliced, barely ripe green mango served with cu­cum­ber and bean sprouts and doused in a tangy sauce of lime juice, sugar and chile. A hit of grilled shrimp paste can be the dif­fer­ence between a sim­ple spicy snack and an un­for­get­table blend of fruit and fire.

TEA LEAF SALAD, MYAN­MAR

Bring­ing this South­east Asian na­tion’s ob­ses­sion with pip­ing-hot cups of chai to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion, Myan­mar’s tea leaf salad – also known by its lo­cal name of laphet thoke – is a bit­ter and strangely ad­dic­tive snack. The salad, made from fer­mented As­sam tea leaves packed into con­crete cases kept un­der­ground for months or even years, is reg­u­larly en­joyed as an af­ter­noon snack or af­ter-din­ner treat. It’s served slathered in lime and fish sauce with split peas, peanuts, fried gar­lic and sun­flower seeds for a re­fresh­ing and iconic end to the per­fect Myan­mar meal.

FRIED ANCHOVY SALAD, PHILIP­PINES

This fa­mously di­vi­sive fish, bit­terly fought over in the West as the most con­tentious pizza top­ping af­ter sliced pineap­ple, has long been used in Philip­pine cook­ing as a salty ad­di­tion to the na­tion’s fa­mous fin­ger food. While there are end­less vari­a­tions on sal­ads served with this deep-fried de­light, one pop­u­lar recipe calls for pur­ple let­tuce tossed with cherry toma­toes and the black olives that re­main a le­gacy of the Philip­pines’ colo­nial Span­ish past. Driz­zled in a sweet blend of honey and creamy dress­ing, this tongue-twist­ing mix of sweet and salty makes the per­fect ap­pe­tizer for a meal en­joyed with friends.

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