By Bren Herrera:
Last Sunday, January 16th, was International Hot & Spicy Food Day. It’s the unofficial culinary holiday when heat-lovers relish in making and eating food that tingles the palate and causes bodily cooling agents to clock in! I personally have a very low tolerance for picante–something I simply can’t understand. It’s a pain, you know. I constantly have to ask restaurants to simmer down on the heat factor. And, it’s quite embarrassing to admit that even at home I have to scale back on hot peppers (though cayenne chocolate somehow yields to my sensitivity). It’s a shame and I lower my head in despair when I consider the innumerable amount of tasty, fire-y cuisine I’ve missed out on.
Well, last weekend, with all that was going on in my world–entertaining out-of-town family, visiting MLK memorials in his hometown, cooking for clients, etc…– I found some time to scour the web to see what people were making in celebration of International Hot & Spicy Food Day. The origin of this informal holiday are unknown, but it’s clear that chili’s, raw garlic or ginger are staple ingredients reliable to light up your mouth. Not that we need to reserve a special day to devour eye-popping food but there some serious enthusiasts creating interesting plates using some dynamic ingredient pairings I’ve never thought of. Most cuisines covered were from the East and others from African nations.
While browsing, I drooled over several findings and only got as far pondering what I’d substitute the heat source with. The only thing that I finally decided to eventually make is sriracha: a super caliente and probably the hottest of hot sauces out in the market and originally from Thailand. Yeah, that’ll get my buds all excited and later hating me for searing them! I’ll let you know how that goes– when it does.
So, all that virtual eating naturally made me hungry and interested in testing out my wimpy buds. I searched just a bit longer for inspiration on what could possibly classify as hot & spicy without scorning my mouth. Being that it’s the new year and I’ve internally resolved to lose a few pounds, fish made sense to me. But I wanted to challenge myself with whatever I was going to make. Aha! Salad! A leafy plate is not my idea of a satisfying meal so salads are tough for me to enjoy. There we go: A salmon salad. I figured it would be healthy enough to inspire you to eat better, good enough to entice you to make it yourself and bearing the right amount of heat for the high-tempered!
This salad was inspired by our market in Bangkok where spicy food is popular and makes their cuisine a highly sought one here in the States! In this particular salad, the dressing does all the biting. It’s great for year-round enjoyment but the heat in it makes it even that much better for now!
1 lb. fresh salmon fillet
1/4 cup. Spanish olive oil
1 large tomato chopped
1 medium yellow onion, julienne cut
1 large head red Romaine lettuce
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Fish sauce dressing
3 tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 fresh lime juice
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
4 fresh hot Thai chillies, minced
While fish is cooking, making dressing. In small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. Cover and set aside.
If serving salad as entrée, neatly arrange lettuce leaves on large plate. Cut salmon into small to medium sized pieces, without flaking and mix with tomatoes, mint and cilantro. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Serves 3.
For more from Bren Herrera, please visit her at Flanboyant Eats
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