By Deborah Eisenhut

Thai food is unique, combining both Chinese and Indian cuisines, incorporating all five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. Many foreign food influences have been transformed to make this food uniquely Thai. Even more so now with modern influences including Japanese and American cuisines, with just a basic knowledge of the balance of the five flavors, Thai home cooks are now able to create wonderful dishes, adaptable and dynamic. With exotic and fresh herbs and spices readily available in many groceries today, this cuisine is easier than ever to prepare at home. Also Thai cooking can be “sanook” or fun, relaxing and interesting. Try this very healthy, popular type of cooking in your own kitchen and see how delightful “world cuisine” can be at your fingertips!

Thai Cucumber Relish

1/3 cup vinegar

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup sliced cucumber (use a wavy edge knife & cut triangles)

1 Tablespoon fresh Thai chili peppers, chopped

1/3 cup roasted peanuts, ground

2 Tablespoons fresh coriander leaves for garnish.

In a small mixing bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, salt & mix well. Add cucumber, ground peanut and hot pepper. Mix well. Top with coriander leaves.

Thai Beef Salad

1 lb. quality steak, sirloin or other

10 fresh hot Thai chili peppers, sliced crosswise

2 large cloves garlic, sliced crosswise and very thin

1 Tbls. Sugar

5 Tbls. Thai fish sauce (Golden Boy brand is recommended)

5 Tbls. fresh squeezed lime juice (about one medium lime)

1 head Bibb or Boston: or 1 heart Romaine lettuce

12 sprigs fresh mint (optional) remove stems

1 small cucumber seeds removed, peeled and sliced thin

2-3 shallots, sliced crosswise very thin OR 1 small red onion sliced very thin

3-4 sprigs cilantro, stems removed

Grill or broil steak to medium rare, trim any fat, cool and slice thin into 2 inch strips.

Mix garlic, chilies, fish sauce, lime juice & sugar in small bowl. Add the sliced meat and toss with cucumbers & shallots. Taste and add more fish sauce if desired.

Make a bed of lettuce on a serving plate and place beef mixture on top. Garnish with cilantro. Serves 2-3 as an appetizer or meal.

Thai Chicken Salad

1 cup picante

¼ cup peanut butter

2 Tbls. honey

2 Tbls. orange juice

1 teaspoon Thai soy sauce or regular soy

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 package fettuccine pasta, cooked and drained, about 3 cups.

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken

4 cups quality mixed salad greens

2 Tbls. chopped red bell pepper

2 Tbls. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the picante sauce, peanut butter, honey, orange juice, soy sauce and ginger in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat until hot & bubbling. Add the fettuccine & chicken to the skillet and toss to coat. Serve the mixture over the salad greens. Garnish with the red pepper and cilantro.