I still remember the first time I ate at Longrain. It was over seven years ago but I can still remember every dish that I had that night. Martin Boetz‘s expertise with Thai flavours combined with his dedication to sourcing quality Australian produce has shaped the way I cook today. His book, Modern Thai Food is one of my favourites and its pages bear the hallmarks of all truly loved cookbooks. It’s pages are worn, dog-eared and stained from it’s repeated appearances in my kitchen.
His is a simple food philosophy that took me quite a while to fully understand. If you put your time and energy into sourcing quality produce then you will have to do very little to it to create a quality dish. It may sound ludicrous, but it explains why I’ve had better massaman beef curry in Australia than I have in Thailand (and it’s pretty darn good in Thailand!).
Pomelo can be difficult to get, but your local Asian grocer should be able to get you one or at least point you in the right direction. It comes in a pink variety as well, which is slightly sweeter and in my opinion even more delicious. It keeps pretty well in the fridge, so you can use it over a week or so. I have leftovers with yoghurt or use it to add tanginess to desserts.
Substitute prawns or grilled fish if you’re not a fan of squid. Or leave out the seafood entirely and have this as a side to a summer barbecue. If you would like to make this ahead of time, you can assemble the components making sure to only dress it just before serving – the high acidity of the dressing will make the ingredients wilt quickly.
- 300g calamari, cleaned and scored
- 1 tsp kicap manis or dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp crispy fried shallots (I use store bought)
- 3-4 segments pomelo
- 1 lemongrass stem, white part only - finely sliced
- handful of coriander, leaves only
- handful of mint, leaves only
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
- 2 cucumbers, shaved into ribbons
- 1 small shallot, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 long red chilli, deseeded
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 5-6 stalks of coriander stems, washed
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 5 tbsp lime juice
- pinch of salt
- Toss the calamari with kicap manis and set aside.
- Heat a wok on high until smoking, add oil then cook calamari for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Place all salad ingredients in a mixing bowl, add the cooked calamari and 3 tbsp nahm jim . Toss to mix well.
- Place on a serving plate, drizzle with more of the nahm jim and garnish with fried shallots.
- To make the red chilli nahm jim, pound the chilli, garlic and coriander stems to a uniform paste in a mortar and pestle. Add the palm sugar and pound again. Add the fish sauce and lime juice, mix through. Taste and adjust - the flavour should be hot, sweet, sour and salty.