The other week I went to go visit one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. Unfortunately, they had a sign on their door that said they had a vermin infestation. My heart sank. Luckily, there was a new Thai restaurant next door that looked promising. I ordered a few items not expecting much but when the food arrived, I was blown away. Everything was absolutely incredible. I loved one of the dishes so much, I had to recreate it. This Thai chili shrimp salad is based on the restaurant's pla goong, and is loaded with shrimp, fresh vegetables, and the most delicious Thai chili dressing. And I have to admit, my version is pretty darn close to the restaurant's dish!
Thai Chili Shrimp Salad
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons Thai chili jam nam prik pao
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Thai chili peppers chopped
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 lb shrimp peeled, deveined, and butterflied
- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 small cucumber sliced
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup grated carrots
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup toasted coconut
- ¼ cup crushed peanuts
- Make salad dressing. Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, Thai chili sauce, brown sugar, and olive oil until sugar is dissolved. Combine Thai chili, shallots, and lemongrass in a bowl and pour dressing on top. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add shrimp and cook until pink and firm. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and pour half of the dressing, tossing to coat. Simmer for 1 more minute, then remove from heat.
- Assemble salads. Place romaine lettuce on plates and top with sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, mint, and cilantro. Place shrimp on top and garnish with toasted coconut and crushed peanuts. Serve with extra dressing on the side.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This Thai chili shrimp salad seems so simple but the flavors are anything but. The secret behind the salad? It's all about the dressing, or to be more specific, the Thai chili jam.
Nam prik pao is a common ingredient found in Thai cooking. This chili paste is both spicy and sweet and can be used for stir-fries, rice, or in this case, salad dressing.
I bought a jar of nam prik pao from an Asian market but you can also make it yourself!
Combine the chili jam with the remaining dressing ingredients including lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and olive oil. Then, pour the ingredients over the shallots, Thai chili, and lemongrass, and let it rest for 10 minutes. If you want a milder dressing, omit the Thai chili peppers.
Meanwhile, heat up a large saute pan and cook the shrimp. I butterflied the shrimp to let them cook faster, but you can keep them whole. You can also cook the shrimp on the grill to get a great char flavor.
If you're not a fan of shrimp, swap it out for chicken, tofu, salmon, or really another other protein.
Once cooked, pour half of the dressing on top and toss it to combine. Let the shrimp really absorb those flavors.
Next, assemble the fresh ingredients for the salad into bowls including chopped romaine, sliced cucumber, carrots, fresh herbs, and halved cherry tomatoes. If you want to bulk up the Thai chili shrimp salad, you can also add avocado, sliced bell peppers, or even blanched snap peas.
Top the salad with the shrimp and finish it with toasted coconut and crushed peanuts. Serve the Thai chili shrimp salad with extra dressing and go to town!
This might be one of the most flavorful salads I have ever created. And I supposed it's all thanks to my favorite Japanese restaurant closing. The silver lining!
For more seafood salad inspiration check out this seared ahi tuna nicoise salad!
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