This salad is named after my husband who twenty one years ago asked me to make a salad with a spicy peanut dressing. Little did I know then that I was creating a Thai type of dressing. This was back in 1989. There were no Thai cookbooks available. I love making all kinds of sauces and dressings. So I set to work. I was a little worried about putting this on the menu at the cafe. If I had called it Thai chicken salad nobody would have had a clue as to what it was. So I held my breath and waited for the reaction.
It quickly became our most popular lunch item. Everyone loved the rice sticks and the spicy peanut sauce as most people referred to the dressing. How did I know I had created a Thai dressing? Our Sysco delivery driver was from Bankok and when he sampled my newest creation he said, “This tastes just like the sauce my mother makes”. I stood there dumbfounded. Okay. Thai peanut sauce it is. He suggested the rice sticks so I set about finding them. I did and voila! I think it’s funny that our customers insisted that this Thai salad had to be served with sliced French baguette and butter. Our customers insisted on having French bread and butter no matter what kind of salad they ate.
Make the rice sticks first. Don’t skip making these. It is totally worth it. They keep for at least two weeks in an airtight container. You’ll have lots of rice sticks.
- Canola oil
- Rice Sticks (I use Dynasty brand Maifun rice sticks. 6.75 oz bag, has 3 bundles of rice threads)
- 2 rimmed baking pans lined with 2 thicknesses of paper towels.
One of those little skimmers used in Asian cooking to lift the rice sticks out of the oil.
In a 6 quart pot heat 48 oz of Canola oil to 375 – 400 degrees. (I use a Rival 6 quart Chef’s Pot Multi-Cooker.) It has a temperature control so I just set it to 375.
The oil is hot enough when you can take a rice thread and dip the tip into the oil. It should immediately puff up. If it doesn’t wait and try again in a minute or two.
- Take small handfuls and drop into the oil. It will immediately expand and puff up.
- Don’t put too much in at a time because the outside will expand but the middle won’t cook and raw rice sticks are like fishing line to bite into – yuck.
- Use the skimmer to lift the rice sticks out of the oil and place on the paper towel lined baking sheet.
- Cool. Place in an airtight container. See now you have lots of crispy rice sticks.
Homemade Hot Chili Oil
Make this. It is wonderful in so many things. I like to stir it into a little mayonnaise for a sandwich spread. Add it to other sauces and dressings to give them an added kick. You can make this in less than 10 minutes.
Place in a small sauce pot over medium heat:
- 1- 1/2 cups light olive oil
- 2 T red pepper flakes (like the kind found in Pizza restaurants)
- 1 heaping Tablespoon of peeled diced garlic ( about 2 cloves)
- 1 heaping Tablespoon fresh peeled ginger, diced (use a spoon to peel the ginger)
- Watch it closely – once it begins to simmer its done. (this only takes about 3 minutes)
- Take off the heat and let cool.
- Strain and put into a glass bottle.(or let it sit longer to intensify the heat of the chilies)
- Keep in the refrigerator.
Note: If you don’t like ginger or garlic leave them out.
As long as you have the chilies and oil you don’t really need anything else. I just happen to love garlic in everything. And the ginger isn’t very noticeable.
Tip: Save those glass bottles with the plastic screw on lids. This one originally came from Trader Joe’s and had some kind of sauce in it. (I love this size for vinaigrette )
Spicy Peanut Dressing
This is a creamy peanut dressing with a soy sauce base that’s sweet and has a nice slightly hot kick to it. You can adjust the amount of hot chili oil to suit your taste.
I have a regular size Cuisinart food processor that holds 11 cups. If yours is smaller this may overfill.
I don’t recommend making this in a blender.
Add to the food processor and blend until smooth:
- 1 cup Skippy creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 -1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
2 “quarter” size slices of ginger, chopped and pressed with a garlic press. (I find it works pretty good to use a garlic press for ginger. You just have to squeeze hard and be sure to take the tip of a knife and pry out the ginger pulp between presses.)
- 2 Tablespoons roasted sesame seed oil
- 4 Tablespoons homemade hot chili oil –add a little at a time and taste -DON’T ADD ALL AT ONCE
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar (NOT SEASONED rice wine vinegar)
- 3 Tablespoons ketchup
- 3 Tablespoons light olive oil
- Taste and if needed you could add a little more garlic and hot chili oil
Grilled Chicken Breast
- At the cafe we had a great char-broiler but at home I use a Panini Maker/Grill
- Pound out the desired number of chicken breast halves so they are uniform in thickness.
- Lightly brush with oil and place on a preheated Panini Grill.
- Cook until done about 5 minutes. Slice.
To assemble the salad. Put lettuce on the bottom, then rice sticks, then slices of chicken, a drizzle of the dressing and finally a sprinkle of chopped Planters lightly salted peanuts. Enjoy!