I don’t usually have meat in my salad – or salad on my meat. In fact, when I was growing up, my mother set out “salad plates” so that her salad wouldn’t mingle with other dinner items. No gravy ever touched a lettuce leaf in our house.
In college I discovered Chef’s Salad: hard-boiled eggs, strips of ham and/or turkey or roast beef, tomatoes, cucumber and grated cheese, mixed into chopped iceberg lettuce and covered with Thousand Island Dressing. It made a great dinner on the run.
When I moved to California, I was introduced to Cobb Salad: chicken chunks, pieces of bacon, tomatoes, avocados, hard-boiled eggs and Roquefort cheese, topped with a vinaigrette dressing and served on top of chopped iceberg lettuce. Another full meal on one plate.
Also new to me was Taco Salad, with its ground beef or shredded chicken mixed with taco chips, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, sour cream and guacamole and served over chopped iceberg lettuce.
I’m seeing a theme here: chopped iceberg lettuce, which must be the blandest salad ingredient ever grown.
Iceberg lettuce also turns up in Thai Pork Salad. The novelty here is that the pork is served hot on top of the salad ingredients. I was skeptical, but it works. Leftovers turn out to make a great tortilla filling.
Thai Pork Salad – serves 4
1 pound boneless pork chops
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 –10 ounces iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
4 scallions, trimmed and white and green parts sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small or 1/2 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon canola oil
Remove any fat and cut pork into 1/2-inch by 1-inch strips.
Combine lime juice, ketchup, brown sugar, soy sauce, chopped garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Add the pork strips and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Put the lettuce, scallions, red bell pepper, cucumber, mango and cilantro into a salad bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
Begin heating the oil in a frying pan or wok over high heat. When hot, scoop out the pork pieces from the marinade, saving the marinade, and add the pork to the pan. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, or until the pork is no longer pink in the middle. Transfer the cooked pork to the top of the salad. Then cook the remaining marinade in the pan for about 1 minute, or until it comes to a boil. Pour it on top of the pork and serve the salad immediately.For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"