August 31, 2006


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New flavors for an old summer dish
Asian salads may dethrone Caesar
By Susan Reilly

Had it with the trio of lettuce, tomato and cucumber?

Tired of some restaurant salads masquerading as healthy when in actuality, their fat and calorie content can rival a BigMac?

Look no further than your local Thai or Vietnamese restaurant.

“I think that for many people, salad is really misunderstood. The way we prepare salad is very different than what you would expect,” said Samantha Diep, owner of Pho Golden Bowl in Manchester.

Pho Golden Bowl is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, and while dishes like summer rolls, rice vermicelli and noodle soups are well known, the real undiscovered gem on the menu is the salad.

The combination salad ($6.50) is a heaping platter of steamed shrimp, pulled chicken and seared tofu over a bed of grated cabbage and carrots. The salad is topped with crushed peanuts and crispy fried onions and mint leaves.

The flavor combination of sweet, spicy, salty and sour explodes on your tongue. It is interesting, but not so spicy that it leaves you reaching for the tumbler of water.

Put aside the interesting flavors (reason enough to try them); these salads are low in fat. To start with, the protein used for these salads — often shrimp, lean beef or duck — is steamed or grilled, not sautιed in oil or deep-fried. The dressing is typically simple: made with lime juice, fish sauce, chilies and a variety of herbs — no oil or fats whatsoever.

In Thailand, salads are referred to as “yum,” meaning tossed, or mixed together. Like Vietnamese salads, Thai salads offer layers of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors

Vegetables can be simple or exotic, depending what is at the market, but always very fresh. And, traditionally, these salads are prepared to order — never will you see a cooler full of take-out salads ready to go in an Asian restaurant.

Thai and Vietnamese salads are not boring, and in fact, the dressings can often pack quite a punch, a nice contrast to simpler vegetables.

“I have found that once people try the salad, they always finish it, and always come back for more,” Diep said.

Salads to buy
Here is a sample from area menus:
• Chaing Mai, 63 Route 101A, Amherst, 672-2929. Lab Gai — ($9.50) ground chicken mixed with red onion, mint, lime juice and scallions on lettuce. Plar Nua — ($9.50) char grilled beef mixed in chili paste with onion, tomatoes, mushrooms and scallions. Plar Goong — ($10.95) grilled shrimp in chili paste with lemon grass, mushrooms, onions, chili paste and lime.
• Dynamite Sushi, 30 Lowell Road, Hudson, 889-0055.Green salad — ($3.99) with asparagus tempura and a homemade orange dressing. Tuna salad — ($4.99) raw tuna served with as spicy sauce and mixed greens
• Pho Golden Bowl, 124 Queen City Ave., Manchester, 622-2000. Combination salad — ($6.50) shrimp and chicken tossed with mint, carrots, shredded cabbage and a homemade dressing then topped with crushed, roasted peanuts and crispy, dried onions.
• San Francisco Kitchen, 133 Main St., Nashua, 886-8833. Chicken and string bean salad ($5.25) with a soy dressing
• Siam Orchid, 158 North Main St., Concord, 228-1529 or 581 Second St., Manchester, 647-5547. Yum Neau — ($9.95) a warm salad of grilled, sliced sirloin with a spicy lime dressing. Papaya salad — ($7.95) shrimp tossed with papaya in a sweet and sour sauce with cashews, string beans and carrots. Seafood yum yum — ($11.95) steamed shrimp, squid and scallops tossed with mushrooms, onions and tomatoes in a sweet and sour sauce.
• Tiya’s Restaurant, 8 Hanover St., Manchester, 669-4365. Yum seafood — ($13.95) lobster, shrimp and mussels mixed with mint, onions, parsley and cucumber in a spicy lime dressing. Yum neur — ($8.95) charcoal grilled beef on a bed of lettuce with mint, parsley and onion in a spicy lime dressing. Plar goong — ($8.95) shrimp tossed with mint, onion, parsley and cucumber in a spicy lime dressing.
• Vietnam Noodle House, 138 Main St., Nashua, 886-4566. Goi, a traditional Vietnamese salad made from shrimp ($6.50), chicken ($6.25) or shrimp and chicken ($6.75). Tofu salad ($6.50).
• YouYou, 150 Broad St., Nashua, 882-8337. Chicken cold noodle salad ($7.95). Spicy beef salad ($7.50). Yum goong ($14.50) a shrimp salad

Salad to make
Thai Beef Salad
1 lb sirloin steak, broiled medium-rare.
one head of lettuce, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced thin
3 tomatoes, cut into small wedges
1/4 of an onion sliced thin
1 small chili pepper, minced
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. fish sauce (can substitute with soy sauce) readily available at Asian markets or in ethnic aisle at supermarket
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: garnish with 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Slice steak into thin strips, add chilies and garlic, then lemon juice, sugar, and fish sauce and mix together in medium-sized bowl. Remove steak and set aside.
Toss lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in the sauce the steak was in. Arrange salad on a platter and place steak evenly on top of bed of salad. Optional garnish: chopped peanuts. Serves 4.

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A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
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When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
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You say tomato, writer says lunch