The resolutions I haven’t been keeping have a second chance because today marks the start of the Thai New Year, Songkran.
Songkran is an ancient celebration of the start of a new farming cycle, and it always falls sometime between the 10th and the 18th of April; this year, the celebration starts on the thirteenth (today!) and lasts for three days.
To inaugurate the festivities here at Enlightened Cooking , I offer a Thai-inspired mango and chicken salad with an oil-free dressing. The latter is based on a more traditional Thai sauce made with palm sugar (the original is oil-free as well); it gets its oomph from brown sugar, quickly carmelized in a skillet, and further enhanced with lime and fresh ginger. It is scandalously delicious, particularly for brown sugar addicts like myself.
But the fun doesn’t stop there: Songkran is a water festival, a theme symbolizing the cleansing and renewal necessary for the start of a new year. Multiple sources indicate that locals will use anything from water pistols to buckets and empty rubbish bins to soak each other, and anyone else in the vicinity.
While I’m tempted to squirt several of my pilates students who text-message in the middle of performing the teaser (I’m torn between being annoyed and impressed), I plan to celebrate the water theme in three alternative ways:
(1) Paying extra attention to getting my 8-10 glasses of water per day
(2) Taking my first swim of the season (parent-tot swim with Nick doesn’t count)
(3) Submerging in a steamy hot bubble bath each night for the next three days (despite several looming deadlines--this is part of my renewed (mental) health regimen). I can’t remember when I last took one, but I know it’s been close to a year.* Whoohoo!
(*To clarify: no baths for a year, but bathing, yes. The only thing I like ripe is my fruit.)
Chicken-Mango Salad with Caramelized Ginger-Lime dressing
I use a lot less fish sauce here than is typical for Thai food; I enjoy the flavor, but a small amount goes far with me. Feel free to increase the amount if it suits your fancy!
You can find Chinese chile garlic sauce (and the fish sauce, too) in the supermarket where soy sauce is shelved. Like the fish sauce, you can add more or less chile garlic sauce to taste.
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons bottled Chinese chile-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce (or you could use soy sauce)
1 bunch watercress, sprigs picked, washed, dried
1/3 pound snow peas, cut in half on the diagonal
2 medium firm-ripe mangoes, peeled and pitted, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup lightly salted roasted cashews or peanuts, coarsely chopped
Lime wedges, to serve
Place the brown sugar in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until sugar caramelizes. Remove from heat. Add the lime juice, water, chile sauce, ginger and fish sauce (it will bubble up). Stir over medium heat for 3 minutes or until sugar is melted and mixture simmers. Remove from heat. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Season to taste with salt (or more fish sauce).
Meanwhile, combine the watercress, snow peas, mango and bell pepper in a large bowl. Divide among serving bowls. Arrange chicken over salad and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with cashews, and serve immediately with lime wedges. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition per Serving (1/4 of the salad): Calories 293; Fat 7.9g (sat 2.5g, mono 1.8g, poly 2.7g); Protein 23.6g; Cholesterol 50.7mg; Carbohydrate 39.1g; Sodium 368mg.
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1 )