Balancing Act: Thai Steak and Glass Noodle Salad

Thai cooking is all about balance, which is true for many Asian cuisines (and cultures, I suppose. Something about that whole yin and yang concept...) Like good music, a dish works when all its elements blend harmoniously. On the other hand, contrast is also important to keep it from being too bland and one-note.

Take this salad for example. The sweet honey, sour lime, and salty fish sauce in the dressing mingles with the mellow warmth of the chili flakes. It coats and blends the flavours of the noodles and fresh vegetables. But the coolness of the noodles, heat of the steak, and crunch of the cashews ensure that your diners are anything but bored after a few bites.

This delicious salad is perfect for a refreshing dinner during the last fleeting moments of summer. Satisfaction (although not Enlightenment) guaranteed.


Pig Tales: Pulled Pork and Cornbread Waffles

While there are plenty of fanatics out there that treat barbecue like a religion, I am no expert. I do know, however, that I like pulled pork and the cornbread that it is often served with. I have also found a tasty way to serve the two together with a twist.

Pulled pork is great for using up tough and relatively inexpensive cuts of pork shoulder (or Boston butt). Long, slow cooking breaks down the meat so that it becomes meltingly tender. After, it is shredded ("pulled") and sometime served mixed with barbecue sauce.

Oftentimes, "real" pulled pork is slowly smoked for several hours. Since I did not have a personal smoker at my disposal, I used a non-traditional method instead, which used a slow cooker and root beer! I think the root beer added just the right spiciness to the meat when it finished cooking and somehow tenderized it as well. It adds some sweetness to the pork so make sure the barbecue sauce you use is not too sweet as well, or you may end up with a porky dessert.

Actually, the concept of a porky dessert may not be too far off, because the pulled pork will be served on top of waffles. And trust me, there is an excellent reason for this.

Personally, I think the crust of cornbread is the best part. Whenever I make a pan of it, I could very easily just cut off the golden brown top and eat it all. But that wouldn't be fair, would it, since most people I know want that same part.

Luckily, I discovered that baking the cornbread batter into a waffle iron solves this problem. The result? Practically all crunchy brown crust (more than on a cornmeal pancake), and everybody may indulge selfishly. No sharing required.