Thai Shrimp Salad Recipe (Pla Goong)
Kasma's Hot and Sour Shrimp Salad with Roasted Chili Sauce, Lemon Grass and Mint
This spicy Thai salad uses lemongrass and mint to add a characteristic flavor to this dish. The heat comes from two spicy ingredients, the roasted chili paste (nahm prik pow) and chopped fresh Thai chilies. This recipe is tried and tested by renowned cooking instructor Kasma Loha-unchit and can be varied to include squid or scallops instead of shrimp or two or more of these combined to make a tasty seafood salad.
- 1/2 lb. medium-size shrimp
- 1 tsp. sea salt dissolved in 1/2 cup water
- 4-6 Thai chilies, cut into thin rounds
- 1 1/2 - 2 tsp. roasted chili paste (nahm prik pow)
- 1-2 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah), to taste
- 1 1/2 - 2 Tbs. lime juice, to taste
- 1-2 tsp. granulated sugar, to taste
- 1 stalk lemon grass
- Fresh shallot, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise
- 1-2 Tbs. coarsely chopped cilantro, sawleaf coriander or parsley
- 3-4 Tbs. coarsely chopped mint leaves
- 3 cups boiling water
- A couple of mint sprigs for garnish
- Shell, de-vein and butterfly the shrimp. Soak them in the salted water for 5 to 10 minutes to freshen (this will give the shrimp a more luscious succulent texture). Then rinse thoroughly with plenty of water to remove the salt and drain.
- Mix the Thai chilies with the roasted chilli paste, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Taste and adjust to the desired hot, sour, sweet and salty combination. The sauce should be intense in all respects.
- Trim off and discard the woody bottom tip of the lemon grass and 2 to 3 of the loose, fibrous outer layers. Slice stalk from the bottom end into very thin rounds, to yield roughly 3 Tbs. Place in a mixing bowl with the sliced shallots, coarsely chopped cilantro and mint leaves.
- Blanch the shrimp in boiling water for 20 seconds, or until they turn pink on the outside but are not completely cooked through. Drain. The shrimp will be further cooked by the lime juice in the sauce.
- Toss the shrimp while still warm with the herbs and the chili-lime sauce. Stir well to coat the shrimp. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with mint sprigs.
Notes and Pointers:
Hot-and-sour salads lie at the heart of Thai cuisine. There are so many different ways to make them, and even though they are essentially hot with chilies and sour with lime juice, the balance of flavor can be such that each is distinctly unique. In this book, I have included several of these spicy and limy salads - from fish to crustaceans to mollusks.
In this recipe, the sauce combines a subtle roasted dimension from the roasted chili paste with the heat of fresh chilies and the sharp sour of lime juice. Undercooking the shrimp helps them retain their natural sweetness and gives them a tender, moist texture. For a special, refreshing touch, slice a sour tangerine and toss in with the shrimp, herbs and sauce. For a variation using jumbo-size prawns: butterfly the prawns in their shell and grill over hot coals until they turn pink, are slightly charred but a little undercooked. Arrange on a serving platter. Toss the herbs with the sauce and spread on top of the grilled prawns. Likewise, the seasoned herbs can be used on grilled lobster.
Try this recipe also with squid, scallops, shelled mussels and clams and firm fish or a combination of seafood. It is delicious with sea bass.
Kasma Loha-unchit Thai Cooking Instructor
This recipe used with the kind permission of Kasma, respected cooking instructor and author of the cookbook 'Dancing Shrimp'.
Read our interview with Kasma in our cookbooks section.
Recipe © 1999 Kasma Loha-unchit, used with her kind permission. Image © 2010, Peter Mukherjee/iStockphoto.com
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