Thai salad

Thai coconut peanut prawn lettuce wraps

Perfect to hand round with drinks, or as a light lunch or even as a starter, these little prawn lettuce wraps are really simple but delicious.

I like cooking my prawns to have them slightly warm in the wrap, but you can always buy ready cooked of course if you prefer.

Quantities are kind of up to you and a bit play-it-by-ear, but to make one plate of these I used:

1 little gem lettuce, stalk removed and a couple of outer leaves removed too that didn’t look very good

2-3 dessert spoons of dessiccated coconut

2 -3 dessert spoons of peanuts (I used salted ones as that was what was in the shop), chopped into small pieces

1 small clove of garlic, peeled and finely minced

a small-ish piece of ginger, enough to peel and grate a teaspoon or so

1/2 teaspoon (more or less of course to your own taste) of dried chilli flakes

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 spring onion, chopped finely

chopped fresh coriander leaves

some raw prawns, defrotsted if frozen - I think I used 12 or so

2 teaspoons fish sauce

the juice of 1/2-1 lime (and another lime to serve)

First get all the ingredients out and prepared so it’s all ready to go and put the lettuce leaves onto the serving plate.


Put a non-stick pan over a medium heat, add the coconut and toast until a light brown. Stir constantly and watch it closely - it’ll be the one second you look away that it suddenly burns!

Remove from the heat and set aside.


Into a bowl put about 2/3 of the chopped peanuts and set aside the remainder to add later.

Next into the bowl goes the garlic, ginger, dried chilli flakes, sugar, spring onion and most of the coriander leaves, again keeping some back to add later.

Stir and put the bowl aside for now while you cook the prawns.

Cook the prawns in a non-stick frying pan with just a few sprays of cooking oil and a little splash of water until they turn from grey to pink and are just cooked through (about 2-3 minutes).

Remove the prawns from the pan and allow to cool just a little, then chop into small pieces.


Add the prawns to the bowl, plus the fish sauce and lime juice, and now add most of the toasted coconut too, but leave a little back to garnish.


Stir it all together and check how it tastes - does it need anything else? A little more chilli, lime or fish sauce perhaps?

If not and you’re happy with it, spoon the prawn mixture into the lettuce leaves.

Garnish with the reserved coconut, peanuts and coriander, and add a few lime wedges to the plate in case anyone wants to squeeze more over.

I really hope you try and like this one - it’s going to be my summer party / suppers go-to I think!


Fried egg spicy salad

Easiest little lunch, just a couple of eggs and salad made that bit more special with a hot and sour dressing.

For one person, you’ll need:

Some lettuce, shredded - I had Little Gem

A tomato, hard core removed then diced

Some thin slices of red onion

The juice of one juicy lime

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 birds eye chillies (depending on size of chillies and your preference)

cooking oil

2 eggs

Make the salad by combing the lettuce, tomato and red onion in a bowl.

Mix the dressing ingredients (lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chilli) together in another little bowl and set aside.

Put a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil and then crack in two eggs.

Fry the eggs, once to cook the yolks through (I didn’t quite manage this and my yolks are still a little runny - for this dish they’re better cooked through).

Take the eggs out of the pan when cooked and allow to cool.

Cut the eggs into squares or small pieces then add to the salad.

Top with the dressing and toss carefully to combine.

Rachel Redlaw fried egg spicy salad
Rachel Redlaw fried egg spicy salad

And that’s it!

Super simple,nutritious, easy, tasty little lunch for one …. done!


Spicy sour salad with coconut chicken + coconut rice

I LOVE LOVE LOVE a spicy sour salad!

I make my ‘sort-of’ som tam several times a week, substituting courgette for green papaya when I can’t get it.

And today I just started playing around (playing around with food and trying out new ideas is one of my very favourite things to do).


So instead of my usual chicken cooked on the griddle, I tried poaching it in coconut milk - well, actually the watery liquid from the tin of coconut milk plus additional water.

I simmered the quartered chicken breast in the coconut/water for I think ten minutes as wanted to make sure it was thoroughly cooked and then I drained it and when slightly cooled, shredded the chicken.

Being in a playing-with-food mood, I then cooked some rice (using my absolutely foolproof method of course) in water but also added the solid cream from the tin of coconut milk.

So now I have coconut rice and coconut chicken all ready - and that lovely rich soft coconut flavour to add to my favourite spicy sour salad flavours.

(Nope, neither poaching chicken nor coconut rice cooking look that great, but I thought I’d add the photos so that you can see that it doesn’t look appetising at this stage!).

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam

And now for the salad.

Make a quick and easy sugar syrup for the dressing by putting one tablespoon of demerara sugar in a small pan with three or four tablespoons of water and bring to the boil. Stir to ensure all the sugar has dissolved and then removed from the heat to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

I’ve got a green papaya today but you can always use courgette in its place if you can’t find green papaya (or as I do when I’m too lazy to make a trip to the Thai supermarket).

Peel the papaya/courgette and slice with a julienne peeler.

I’ve also got a few green beans, spring onions and cherry tomatoes, so just slice these too so it’s all ready.

And I’ve a small garlic clove and one red birds eye chilli - but use more or less garlic and chilli to your own taste. Today I want the flavours softer than I sometimes do and for the one chilli to balance the soft coconut rather than overpowering it.

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam

Using a pestle and mortar squash first the chilli and garlic into small pieces - not a total mush, but nice and small as we’re eating it raw.

Then add the green beans, spring onion and tomato and squash it all together again.

Finally add the green papaya plus a handful each of fresh coriander and mint leaves, and … yup … give it all another pounding!

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam

Tip in the cooled sugar syrup, the juice of one juicy lime and a tablespoon of fish sauce.

Stir, mix, combine, scrunch with your (clean!) hands - whatever way you like to mix the flavours - and then taste and see if it needs any more lime or fish sauce.

Add the cooled coconut chicken and coconut rice and mix again.

This is sooooooo delicious!

I love combination of the rich soft coconut rice and chicken, with the sour spicy dressing and the fresh herbs.

In fact, I’m making this for dinner again today ….

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam


Thai green mango salad / som tam mamuang

I love som tam, the traditional spicy sour Thai salad made with green papaya ... and I often make my version using courgette in place of green papaya.

But this one, made with green mango ...

I'm sorry as I always like to give a substitute and try to avoid specialist ingredients as much as possible, but for this one it's green mango or bust.

I don't make this very often, but when I do I take some care over it - there's something very special to me about a green mango salad.

WhenI lived in Thailand, we had a huge mango tree, with it's branches spread above the decking by the pool.

We had a non-stop supply of sour green mangoes which were dipped into a sauce so fiery, sour, salty .... with fermented fish heads, crabs legs, all sorts of things.

And it was so good!

When the mangoes were ripe, there were fruit flies, we wanted to get rid of the fruit ... and every person who visited left with a carrier bag full of ripe mangoes - imagine, that many mangoes we had to give them away by the bag-load. 

But now, it's a little more special for me to make green mango salad and there's also something I find very elegant about it too.

It's the sweet, sour flavours I think, and that it just works best with prawns or other seafood, so as I said ... I just take that little bit more care than I sometimes do when cooking. 

I don't find it a chore, but actively enjoy each little step, from toasting the almonds (that I prefer in place of traditional peanuts as peanuts aren't nuts but actually legumes, and have more calories than nuts and don't have the good fats either), to blanching the green beans.

I want every single element here to be perfect.

And I also create the salad vegetables together with the dressing - it saves time, washing up, and also - so I believe - blends everything so perfectly that the whole dish comes together as one, all those elements combined into one perfect salad.

Green mango salad for two (perhaps served with rice) or for one greedy one (probably without the added rice) ....


1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) demerara sugar

4 tablespoons water

flaked almonds

green beans, ends removed 

a few small tomatoes, quartered

2 or 3 spring onions, sliced

1 medium green mango

some raw prawns, defrosted if frozen, and a whole squid tube, defrosted if frozen

1 garlic clove

1-2 birds eye red chillies

1 tablespoon fish sauce

the juice of one juicy lime

Put the sugar and water into a little pan, bring to the boil slowly and when boiling stir to dissolve the sugar and then remove from heat and cool.

Put a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add a handful of flaked almonds and toast for a few seconds, shaking all the time - it'll take maybe 30 seconds - then remove from heat.

Get the vegetables ready: slice the ends from the green beans and cut into inch-long pieces; quarter the cherry tomatoes; slice the spring onions.

Peel the mango and then chop into long thin slices - the easiest way is with a julienne peeler - and put to one side.

Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad
Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad
Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad

Put a saucepan of water on and when boiling add the prawns for a minute or so until almost done, then add the green beans for a minute to blanch, then remove from heat, and cover with cold water to prevent them from cooking further.

Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad

If adding squid, cut the tubes, score on both sides, and cook on a hot griddle pan for a minute or so each side. I love how the tubes roll up! 

Using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic and chilli into a rough paste but not a pulp.

Then what I like to do is make the salad veg and dressing all as one - so add the green beans, tomatoes and spring onion and pound again.

Tip in the sugar syrup, the fish sauce and the lime juice and stir and pound again, to meld it all together.

Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad
Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad
Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad

And then it's just all about putting it together! Add the salad veg/dressing to the green mango and toss with (clean) hands.

Rachel Redlaw som tam mamuang Thai mango salad

Pour it all into your serving bowl or plate and place the prawns and squid on top, and then lastly the toasted almonds.

Elegant, delicious, delicate at the same time somehow as having those huge hot and sour flavours ... this is a special one.


Yum talay (Thai seafood salad)

Sometimes I don't think what I do is really 'cooking'. Not 'proper cooking'!

I don't really weigh things out, it's never very precise, and you HAVE to taste and taste and see what tastes good to you. 

I see it as less 'cooking' and more 'faffing about playing with food'.

It's ALL about having fun and really ENJOYING making something good to eat - that's usually simple and quick too.

This recipe is a perfect example ... lots of playing and very little actual cooking. 

And it tastes really good.

I love seafood and I love hot and sour flavours - and the lemongrass and lime leaf makes this just really delicious - so full of flavour.

Thai seafood salad - let's get started.

I made a big bowl just for me - so adjust the quantities of course depending on how much you're making.

Here's a list of the ingredients I used, but read through the whole recipe and see where you might adapt or change according to what you've got and what you like.

frozen prawns and squid, defrosted

1 tablespoon demerera sugar plus 3 tablespoons cold water

1-2 birds eye chillies

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1-2 limes

1 carrot, peeled and julienned

a few slices of white onion

2 spring onions, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 stick of celery, chopped

1 stalk of lemongrass

1 lime leaf, torn to remove the stalk

extra wedges of lime, to serve

You can use any fish or seafood you like (or happen to have).  I always like to have prawns and squid in the freezer as it's just so easy then to make something to eat - and generally I have scallops too but not today. Defrost before using - seafood defrosts quickly in a bowl of cold water - then rinse with fresh cold water and pat dry on kitchen paper.

You need to cook the fish first before adding it to the salad - do this any way you like.

The quickest way for my prawns and squid to cook would be to drop them quickly into a pan of boiling water and cook for only about a minute or less ... I did do the prawns like this - they're ready when they've gone from raw grey to completely pink!

Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay

But I wanted my squid to have a bit more texture too it and I just like cooking it on the griddle and watching it roll up! (Yep, 'faffing about playing with food').

So I scored my squid tubes, opened them out and cooked them on a very hot griddle and squeezed lime juice over them as they cooked.

Once the fish and seafood is cooked, just leave to one side to add at the end.

The next part of playing with food is to make the dressing - I added one tablespoon of demerera sugar to three tablespoons of water in a little saucepan and brought it slowly to the boil, stirred to dissolve the sugar and removed from the heat to cool. You could stand the saucepan in some cold water in the sink if you want to cool it more quickly.

I pounded up two birds eye chillies (use 1-2 depending on your taste) then added a tablespoon of fish sauce and the juice of a really juicy lime, then the sugar/water mixture.

Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay

Stir it all together and taste - see if you need to add anything else. It might need a little more lime juice depending on how juicy your lime was! 

Do make this dressing to YOUR taste. I like it very spicy and very sour so use lots of chilli and lime, but you might prefer a sweeter dressing, so just taste and play and experiment.

Next - the salad.

Use what you like really!

I had carrot, some white onion, a couple of spring onions, a tomato and some celery - but you could use anything you like.

Very finely slice just the bottom third of a lemongrass stalk (having removed the tough outer layers) and also finely slice a lime leaf and add to the salad. 

If you can't get these then do make it anyway, but the lemongrass and lime leaf are SO GOOD do get them if you can! I'm lucky that my local supermarket sells them so hopefully yours does too.

Add the dressing to the salad, mix well, and tip out onto a plate or bowl and add the seafood

Serve with extra lime wedges to squeeze over.

Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay
Rachel Redlaw yum talay

And that's it!

One delicious, authentic, Thai seafood salad - easy and fun to make and very little actual cooking!


Sesame chicken

I was making a salad for my lunch and about to just put some chicken on the griddle and then decided to do something different with it. I had been thinking about toasting some sesame seeds to put in the salad but thought I'd cook the chicken in them instead.

This is really simple and made a nice change!

Start by making a very quick sugar syrup for the salad dressing.  

It's just 1 tablespoon of sugar (I used demerara sugar but white sugar is fine) brought slowly to the boil in a small pan with 3 tablespoons of water, then stirred to dissolve the sugar and remove from the heat. 

I sliced the salad vegetables that I had in the fridge, which was courgette, carrots, spring onions and cherry tomatoes. Use whatever you have and like!

To make the chicken, I used half a chicken breast and sliced it again into two thin strips (you need it thin so it cooks quickly, so do give it a bash with a rolling pin between cling-film or greaseproof paper if you need to).

Then I just tipped some sesame seeds (I think it was two tablespoons) onto the chicken and added a teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce and coated the meat.

Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken
Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken

I used my 1-calorie spray oil (20 sprays) into a pan and then fried the chicken until cooked. Cook the chicken quickly on each side to brown and crisp the sesame seeds and then cook for another 2-3 minutes each side until cooked (cut into it to check).

Because there's not really enough oil to fry it, I did have to add a splash of water too once the seeds had browned.

Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken

If you're not on a weight-loss diet, then use a tablespoon or two of cooking oil to fry the chicken and you won't need the water! 

Once cooked, leave to one side to finish the salad. 

Using a pestle and mortar crush into tiny bits (but not a mush) a birds eye chilli and a garlic clove.  Then tip in the cooled sugar syrup, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and the juice of a lime and combined with the salad before topping with the sesame chicken.

Rachel Redlaw sesame chicken


Yam plaa - crispy fish salad

My nephew bought me a Thai cookbook for Christmas, one I haven't seen before.  It's called ... hold on ... The Little Thai Cookbook - and there's some great recipes in it.  I love reading cookbooks so am thoroughly enjoying working my way through this one.

When I find any recipe in any cookbook I like the sound of, or that I've eaten before, I then think through if there's any changes I'd make or what else I could make with it. 

So, with just a very few Tiniest Thai changes, this absolutely delicious crispy fish salad has shot to the top of my current home-alone favourites - when I'm cooking just for me, this is EXACTLY what I usually want to eat. 

It's spicy + sour and crunchy + salty, full of flavour and texture 

And the basic salad and dressing is so simple to adapt to other toppings if you're not in a crispy fish kinda mood.  

I've made it with a chicken, prawn and red pepper topping, stir fried in a little soy sauce and also with prawn and squid. 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad

I absolutely love hot and sour salads and hope you give this a try

So, crispy fish salad for one ... you'll need .. 

a piece of white fish (I had cod)

1 tspn salt

1 garlic clove

1 red bird eye chilli (or more if you have milder chillies, or want it spicier!)

1/2-1 tablespoon fish sauce

juice of one lime

1 tspn sugar

1/4 red onion, cut into chunks

2 spring onions, sliced

3 or 4 cherry tomatos, halved, or 1 tomato, chopped

1 carrot, julienned or diced

small handful each of fresh mint and coriander leaves, chopped

a tablespoon peanuts, chopped (or use other nuts, I toasted almond flakes today, but peanuts are best!)

cooking oil 

Heat the oven to gas mark 4, 180C.

Rub the salt all over the fish and get all the other ingredients together.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa

Put the fish on a rack over a baking tray and pop in the oven for 20 mins.

While it cooks, start the dressing by roughly chopping the garlic and chilli then crushing into a paste with the mortar and pestle. Don't pulverise it but do be aware that you're going to be eating whatever sized bits of chilli and garlic you end up with, so adjust to your taste! 

Add the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa

Chop and prepare all the salad ingredients and put into a big bowl. 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad

Tip over half the salad dressing, stir or scrunch (with clean hands!) to combine - and set aside.

Take the fish out of the oven and flake with a fork, or with your hands, until it has the consistency of large breadcrumbs.

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai crispy fish salad yam plaa

Pour quite a lot of oil into a wok and heat until a tiny piece of fish dropped in sizzles on hitting the oil.

Then add the fish 'breadcrumbs'.  Leave to cook in the very hot oil for 30 seconds and then stir, and leave again.

Mine took longer to cook than I'd thought it would and actually I'll leave it longer next time as it's so good when it's really crispy!

Keep cooking and stirring (very carefully) then remove the fish with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper or strain into a bowl (and then dispose of the oil when it's cold).

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad

Put the salad onto a plate, add the crispy fish (or other topping) and mix.

Pour the remainder of the dressing on top and mix again - before eating ... 

Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai yam plaa crispy fish hot and sour salad
Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai hour and sour crispy fish slad yam plaa


Spicy steak salad / yum neua

The most delicious and simple lunch for one.  

I'm a big believer in making meals special and I hate the thought that you might eat purely for sustenance 'just' because it's only you you're cooking for.

So today, home alone, I made myself this salad and I highly recommend you sometime soon do the same!

Or make double and have it with someone else of course - I'm not saying keep it to yourself, just that it's as easy as heating a tin of soup to make yourself something that tastes incredible.

Steak salad with a hot and sour dressing for one then it is.  

Coming right up.

You'll need:

1 steak - whatever you like.  My preference is for rump, but sirloin would work too.

light soy sauce

fish sauce

1 lime


1/4 - 1/5 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 spring onions

one little gem lettuce, or other lettuce leaves

coriander leaves

mint leaves

a red chilli, to garnish 

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

Get the steak out of the fridge half an hour before cooking and put on a plate or in a bowl with a slosh of soy sauce.  It cooks better from room temperature. 

I made the dressing first, before cooking the steak, and it's so easy! 

In a bowl put 1 tablespoon fish sauce, the juice of a lime (should be about 2 tablespoons so you may need a little more or less), 1 teaspoon of sugar and the dried chilli flakes (note - weirdly half tsp was fine when I made this for one, but one tsp way too much when I made it for two, so go cautious).

Stir to dissolve the sugar and then add your sliced spring onions.

Shred some lettuce and put it on a plate, and chop some coriander and mint. Prepare a few slices of red chilli ready to serve.

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

Cook the steak to your liking.

I usually griddle it for a few minutes each side, but today cooked it under the grill, much more slowly than if cooking a steak to eat whole in a pan or griddle.  I cooked mine 7 minutes each side.

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

Let the steak rest for 4 or 5 minutes, then slice crossways into thin slices.

Add the steak to the bowl of dressing and stir or scrunch (get your hands in there!) to combine.

Put the steak mixture on top of the lettuce and pour over all the dressing.

Top with the coriander and mint leaves, and a few slices of red chilli (if liked). 

Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai
Hot and sour steak salad rachel redlaw the tiniest thai

SO delicious.  

Please please try this one and let me know what you think! 


January salad

January food, to me, is ALL about freshness.  

After a lot of rich food over the Christmas period I absolutely crave a return to spicy fresh tastes and I really want salads ... and chillies too!

I want spicy and sour and sharp and completely zingy, plus crunchy and fresh.

So I've been making variations of my 'January salad' all week.

Rachel Redlaw January salad

So easy, it's just a simple basis from which to experiment - and a great way to use up things in the freezer - which is the other thing I'm doing in January.  No more buying what I feel like on the way home when in the freezer I found chicken, pork mince, scallops, squid and prawns!

To go with the salad I cook rice and a quick protein-based stir fry.  

One night it was strips of chicken sprinkled with a little soy sauce and some black pepper and stir-fried.  Another night it was prawns and squid stir-fried with sliced red and yellow peppers and a dash of oyster sauce.  Anything easy and quick and just what you have really.

Just don't make it spicy as the salad is hot! 

And, onto the salad part itself then.

I KNOW this is going to sound a bit of a faff for a salad but bear with me - it's honestly not, there's just a few components, but they are really simple to make and they make your salad something special. 

Read through right to the end before you start making it - and see what you already have that you could use! 

These are the approx quantities I use to make 'January salad' for two (greedy) people, but you really do have to taste as you go with this one and get it to your liking.  

The more often you make it, the easier and more instinctive it gets of course.

First, make the sweet part of the dressing that will balance out the spicy and sour flavours. 

Put two tablespoons (measure them!) of light brown sugar (use white if you don't have light brown) into a small saucepan with three tablespoons of water and slowly bring to a boil, simmer gently for literally just a minute and then remove from the heat.

Rachel Redlaw January salad

Next put all your salad-y things in a big bowl with room to toss it all together later.  

I used about 3/4 of a bag of 'crunchy' salad from the supermarket so it was crunchy lettuce and red cabbage and carrots.  I added thinly sliced green pepper and white onion.  

All of these are good: white onion, red onion, spring onion, carrots, courgettes, cucumber, lettuce, cabbage, peppers and anything else that's crunchy.  Just slice it nice and finely so it looks lovely as well as tastes good.

Put a few cherry tomatoes to one side to add later, or quarter a tomato or two (remove the core! no one wants to eat the core!).

I also really like a bit of added crunch to the texture so some nuts are good if you have them.

A small handful of peanuts would be perfect.  I didn't have any in the cupboard, so quickly toasted some flaked almonds in a hot dry frying pan for a few minutes.

Now the fun bit.  

Put a roughly chopped clove or two of garlic (depending on size) and a roughly chopped chilli or two (I used two birds eye chillies) into a mortar and crush them up with the pestle - you want them in really small pieces but not a total mush. 

Next my 'secret' ingredient - dried shrimp.  This is optional but if you can get hold of it (at an Asian supermarket or online) it keeps forever in the freezer, takes only minutes to defrost and makes your pad Thai authentic too ... 

Rachel Redlaw dried shrimp January salad

If you're using dried shrimp, add a small handful to the chilli/garlic mix and give it a bit of a bash then add the nuts (if using) and crush a bit more.  

Then add peanuts - if using - and bash a bit more.  (I was using more delicate toasted almonds so just added them at the end rather than over-crushing them now).

Rachel Redlaw January salad

Then the tomatoes go in to be squished and THEN tip everything from the mortar into the bowl of crunchy salad and stir it all in and maybe give it a bit of a crush with the pestle to make sure it's all mixed.

Pour in the sugar syrup, add 1.5 tablespoons of fish sauce and squeeze in the juice of a lime.

Use your (clean!) hands to scrunch and toss it all together and add a handful of chopped or torn coriander leaves too, if you have them and if you like coriander (I know a lot of people don't).

And, this is the really important bit, TASTE it and see if you need more fish sauce or more lime juice.

 Personally, I like my salads very spicy and very sour, but I've learnt to tone it down a little bit if I'm sharing - haha - so I think the quantities I've given should be right for most people, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to taste and make sure it's right for YOU.  

It's YOUR dinner so it needs to suit your palate.

And that's it.  

Honestly, I love this and right now eat a variant of it several times a week  - and often take leftovers in to work too for lunch the next day (with an extra chilli to add slices of and an extra lime to squeeze in).  

Rachel Redlaw January salad

I love the sharp flavours and the freshness, the soft chicken or prawns and the steaming rice with beautiful spicy sour salad.

Really want to know what you think of this one, so please do comment if you make your own version! 


Sort of som tam - Thai green papaya salad

I am a self-confessed som tam FIEND.  I LOVE the stuff.  I love it all the time really, but I suppose I especially hanker after it when I've been eating too much rich food.  It's just got all my favourite spicy, sour, sharp, refreshing, gorgeous flavours going in in every single mouthful.

So today - after yesterday's all-afternoon lunch marathon involving oysters, mussels in cream and bacon, chips, bread, cheese ... you get the picture - I even woke up thinking 'yup, today's a definite som tam day'.

After a couple of cups of coffee and some fruit, the 'buts' started entering my head.  BUT I need green papaya to make som tam. BUT I need sour mango if I can't get green papaya. BUT I really can't be bothered to get on the bus and go to the Thai supermarket especially because BUT I don't want to leave the house today (except to walk the dog).

And then I remembered something important:




And, in the fridge - hurrah- were birds eye chillies, a courgette, carrots, half a green pepper and best of all, some fine green beans (which you really do need).  I basically have everything to make som tam except the green papaya.

Have it with any mix of finely sliced veg that you think will work.  Experiment.  Have it on its own, have it with sticky rice, have it with steamed rice, have it with grilled fish or chicken, but do please just have it.

Ok, so to make a nice big plateful from what I had, I used:

1 tablespoon (measure it, don't just use an enormous serving spoon) light brown sugar, or white if you don't have any.  I could only find golden caster sugar in the cupboard today so used that and it worked out fine - plus 3 tablespoons water

1-2 birds eye chillies - I like it very spicy so used two, and it was, so do just use one if you're not so keen on chillies

1 big or 2 smaller garlic cloves

approx 1 tablespoon dried shrimp (optional but really makes a difference! If you can get hold of a packet, they keep forever in the freezer and are so tiny they defrost in a couple of minutes.  And you can put them in your Pad Thai too)

around 2 tablespoons peanuts

In place of the green papaya, 1 carrot, 1 courgette and 1/2 a green pepper (you could also try red pepper or cucumber here too, but have a mix)

a handful of green beans

6-8 tiny tomatoes, or just slice or quarter some regular size ones

1.5 tablespoons fish sauce

0.5 - 1 limes (to taste)

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Put the sugar and water in a small pan, bring to a simmer on the lowest possible heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then immediately remove from heat and cool.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Then prepare the other ingredients: peel the garlic; chop the peanuts; very finely slice or julienne the vegetables that are replacing the green papaya; and cut the green beans into approx 1 inch lengths.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Do peel the veg too and remove the seeds of cucumbers, and leave out the core of courgettes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Put the sliced vegetables in cold water or add a few ice cubes to keep them fresh.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Crush the chillies and garlic in a pestle and mortar -  you want them in small pieces but not a complete mush.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Add the dried shrimp and give them a bash too, then add the peanuts and just crush them a little more and completely mix in.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Next drain the sliced vegetables if they've been sitting in water and squeeze out as much water as possible (use a clean tea cloth or kitchen paper), or remove the ice cubes, and add the vegetables to the mortar.

 Mine's too small so I'm going to have to (1) put it on my list to get a bigger one and (2) move the whole salad to a bigger mixing bowl and go very easy on the bashing!

Then add the peanuts and just crush them a little more and completely mix in.

You just want everything to combine nicely now and mix together so go gently on the bashing and maybe use a spoon too to keep everything turning and make sure you've combined it all together.

Add the green beans, tomatoes, fish sauce, lime juice and the sugar syrup that has cooled in the pan and give it a bash again, crushing the tomatoes and breaking up the beans a little.  Use the spoon again to keep everything turning in the bowl or mortar.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Taste and stir and add more lime if necessary. I normally do, I like it very spicy and quite sour.

Then add the peanuts and just crush them a little more and completely mix in.

Then turn out onto a plate or just into a serving bowl and top with some extra chopped peanuts.  Serve on its own or with chicken, or fish and/or rice.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder som tam

Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a day, but it will also get spicier the longer it sits in the dressing - just to be warned!


Noodle salad

Noodle salad.  Well, that's a bland-sounding title for a very lovely dish!  I made it because I had bought a bag of bean sprouts to make a pad Thai but then didn't have the energy on a hot evening to give it the love and attention that pad Thai needs.

So I needed to make something else with bean sprouts and decided on a noodle salad.  It's a deliberately vague name as it's much more about the component parts than a specific recipe - whatever you have in the fridge there'll be a version of noodle salad you can make.

The noodle bit 

In my head I had glass noodles, but in the cupboard there were vermicelli rice noodles. Whatever noodles you have will be fine, so just cook them first according to the packet directions.  For these thin rice noodles I put them into a pan of boiling water, turned off the heat and let them sit for five minutes.  Then drained them, rinsed with cold water and left them.  As long as they have at least five minutes resting they're good to use.

The dressing bit

This makes enough for a two-person portion.  One tablespoon of fish sauce:

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

The juice of one and a half limes (or to taste, it needs to be more sour than salty).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

And a teaspoon of sugar, then stir to dissolve.

The salad bit

Start putting salad things into a bowl. Anything really - cucumber, mushrooms, peppers, lettuce all good but I had some baby spinach, roughly torn, and a chopped tomato …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

Some bean sprouts and carrots …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

And chopped fresh herbs - I had mint and coriander.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

The onion bit

Spring onions, shallots or red onion are all good …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

The crunchy bit

I've used some crushed peanuts, but toasted and chopped cashews would be good or perhaps some toasted sesame seeds. Roasted rice powder would be good to add too, but I didn't have any.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

The meat or seafood bit 

Put a pan on to heat, add oil and when hot add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and one or two chopped birds eye chillies.

When fragrant, add any meat or seafood you like and stir fry until cooked.  I've got defrosted prawns and squid (I've always got packets of frozen seafood in the freezer!).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

Once cooked allow to cool a little before … or you could just use cooked cold meat.

The assembly bit

Add the noodles to the bowl.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

Then the meat or seafood … I needed to transfer it to a bigger bowl at this point!

Pour over the dressing and stir and toss (use your [clean] hands - it's easiest) until it's all mixed in.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad

The eating bit

Tip it onto a serving dish or plate, and … EAT!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder noodle salad


Larb moo - spicy pork salad

This spicy salad is perfect for a light lunch or supper, or served with rice to make a more substantial meal.  It's really easy to make - being more about assembly than cooking.  I like very spicy food, so do use less chilli if you're less of a fan.

Serves 2-4 depending on greediness and what else you eat with it ...

1/8 cup risotto rice (to make roasted rice)

300g tenderloin pork, minced

2-3 limes

1/2 knorr stock cube, or a teaspoon of stock granules

1 spring onion, chopped

1/2 red onion (or shallots), chopped

handful each of mint leaves and parsley, chopped

1 tbspn crushed dry chillies

2 tbspn fish sauce

red chilli, sliced for garnish

little gem lettuce leaves, to serve

Let's make the roasted rice first.  The salad will still be yummy without it, but it adds a really authentic texture to the dish.  I think this is usually made with sticky rice but, as I don't have any, I use ristotto rice (my reasoning being that risotto rice is also quite starchy) and it works fine. I'm pretty sure normal rice would work too - worth a try before buying anything specially anyway!

1. Heat a pan, and pour in the rice.  Keep turning and stirring it on a low heat until it turns light brown (in about ten minutes).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

2. When it's cool (burning grains are so not fun), crush until fine - a pestle and mortar is good, a hammer or rolling pin would do. I use a coffee bean/spice grinder which makes it really easy!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

Get the other ingredients together ....

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

... and chop and slice the onions, herbs and chilli.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

I use tenderloin of pork as it's what I was originally taught to make the dish with, and for the same reason, I like to mince it by chopping it.  You could just throw it in the food processor - I tried this today for the first time and it worked perfectly.  Or, of course, you could just buy mince in the first place.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

3. Heat a pan (I just used the same one as the rice had been in) and when hot tip in the minced pork and squeeze over the juice of one lime.

4. Keep stirring until the pork is thoroughly cooked which will take 5-10 minutes - but don't overcook it.  Add the stock cube or granules in the last couple of minutes.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

5. Tip the pork into a bowl and stir in the spring onion, red onion, mint and parsley, and mix together.

6. Add the roasted rice powder, dried chillies, lime juice from the remaining 1-2 limes (to taste) and fish sauce and mix again.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

Served in little gem lettuce 'cups' and garnished with red chilli - this is easy to eat and really fresh tasting.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder larb moo

I would love to know if you liked this recipe, or if you tried it with different meat, or amended it at all ... do let me know.


Yam moo grop - crispy pork belly salad

Moo grop is the delicious pork belly that can then be used in so many dishes (if you can manage not to just eat it hot and freshly cooked, that is) … and I’m going to have to work on cooking that properly as today I used strips of pork belly and really over-cooked them.

They still tasted good though in this spicy salad that we had with rice. I know that for a fact as we dived in and started eating and completely forgot to take any pics!

So you’ll have to trust me on this one, that these pork belly strips, when over-cooked were still good … (no I’m not posting a pic of them when cooked!). I rubbed salt into the scored rind, and massaged in a little soy sauce, Chinese five-spice and a tiny drop of olive oil.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder crispy pork belly salad yam moo grop
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder crispy pork belly salad yam moo grop

And that those bits of rice and carrots looked totally different and much prettier at the start of dinner than they do at the end.

Anyway, if you can cook some pork belly with lovely soft meat, and crispy skin, and then cut it into cubes (and not just eat them there and then) … do try putting them into this salad.

I've made it again! 

This time I cooked the pork belly much better ... 

into the remoska - but you could put them in the oven covered with foil

into the remoska - but you could put them in the oven covered with foil

oh my goodness, delicious

oh my goodness, delicious

Yes, I did remove most of the fat ...

Yes, I did remove most of the fat ...

If you’re serving with rice,  then cook the rice first so it’s all ready to go when you’ve assembled the salad.

For two people, I used:

approx 400g crispy pork (2 slices pork belly each)

1 pretty huge carrot, or of course use two normal sized

Half a white onion

2 tomatoes

2 sticks of celery

3 spring onions

And for the dressing:

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1.5 teaspoons sugar (I only had granulated but caster would be better if you have it)

2-3 birds eye chillies depending on how spicy you want it!

Shred the carrot, finely slice the onion, and slice the tomatoes, celery and spring onion …

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder crispy pork belly salad yam moo grop
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder crispy pork belly salad yam moo grop

Here's the salad the second time I made this ... and the dressing ...

Rachel Redlaw pork belly yam moo grop
Rachel Redlaw pork belly yam moo grop

In a bowl mix the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar until the sugar dissolves and then add the chillies.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder crispy pork belly salad yam moo grop

Add most (or as much as you like) of the dressing to the salad and with clean hands toss it all together to properly combine.

Serve in a big pile on a plate with perhaps some coriander if you have any and if liked to garnish, and with rice, and with the remaining dressing in a bowl in case people want more.

Next time I make this, I’ll make sure to get a picture.

I did! And here it is ...

Rachel Redlaw pork belly yam moo grop