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This is a typical Lao/Thai salad with all the herbal input, the spice of chillie, the tang of lime juice and the nutty flavour of toasted sticky rice. For me this has the strongest Thai/Lao feel of any dish.

 The real individuality of this salad is its consistency. It has a "love it or hate it quality", a chewy firm gel like consistency of the softened pork skin and no other element of the pork. I have never read anything on the development of this dish but I would presume that it has to do with the "left-over" skin after certain cuts have had the meat separated and used for other dishes. The other aspect is that the skin can be stored for longer periods than the meat by simply boiling it in small strips. From these strips the food preparer then generally makes finer strips and can easily cook these again to soften them up. Today of course we have a couple of options. Buy the meat and remove the skin cook it and use it for this dish or more conveniently this product is often available in Asian grocers usually vacuum packed or frozen.




Ingredients :
  • 1 cup finely sliced boiled pork skin
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
  • 2 Tbsp roasted ground sticky rice
  • 2-3 Thai chillies very finely diced. (Variable)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 preserved eggs hard or soft boiled.
 
Method :
  1. If preparing your own pork skin from scratch then boil the skin until soft. this can be cooked as if for sweet anise style pork and will add another level of flavour. When cooked an cooled remove any adherent fat from the skin and then proceed to slice the skin in 2 mm thick slices 2.5 to 5 cm in length.
  2. If you are preparing the dish with pre-prepared pork skin then I would boil this briefly and check the consistency frequently. Remove from the heat as soon as it's done and chill the skin in cold water.
  3. Cook the preserved eggs and when cool cut these into pieces so that they distribute through the salad.
  4. Mix all the ingredients just before serving and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro leaves and scallions.

Options:
If you would prefer some pork meat in the salad then you can simply substitute some meat for some skin for example 1/2 cup finely chopped boiled lean pork and ½ cup finely sliced cooked pork skin. Everything else can be treated as for the recipe.
Some Thai interpretations of this recipe add coconut milk or cream to the dish ( Suggest 1 Tbsp coconut cream) and others also add an amount of Thai curry paste of your choice, these then give a richer taste and feel to the dish. If a curry paste is the way you would like to prepare the dish, hold the chillie until after the addition of the curry, then cautiously add some fresh chillie if you require.

Buffalo skin is a product available in Laos prepared in a very similar way. This generally is then barbecued just before eating as a snack. I haven't seen or come across any reference to a salad made with beef skin and wonder what it would be like?

Note:
The amounts of chillie, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar can all be varied according to personal choice.