Posts Tagged ‘thai basil’

We first had this slaw in NYC about 5 years ago at Susur Lee’s now defunct Shang restaurant in NYC’s LES (Lower East Side). Fortunately, he still serves this incredible dish in Toronto and DC. This is not a new slaw in our household. In fact, a month doesn’t go by without a version of this slaw surfacing (here, here, here, here, here, here and here) offering up left-overs for the entire week. Yes, we love it THAT much! I decided it would make a lovely main course with BBQ’d rib eye slices (the way Lorraine makes the steak here) last weekend for our dinner party. It was a huge success and now I have slaw left overs for the week!

I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe recently, you can see the original Susur Lee’s recipe on Food Network or in his gorgeous book A Culinary Life; my version below, is my version. Now the ingredient list is daunting, but I beg you not to be put off, it is a recipe worth making. Also, a lot of time can be cut down if you get everything organized “mise en place” before beginning. I will go through some of my time saving techniques in TIPS below and hopefully it will help encourage you to make it. It is one damn good slaw, if I do say so myself.

Despite the overwhelming number of ingredients, it is WORTH making this slaw

It’s not all that time consuming if you have everything ‘mise en place’

It’s such a colourful slaw, that your eyes sing with glee when you first see it. Please click here to see the slaw Chef Lee and his famous slaw.

You can chop your herbs by hand, but I needed a time saver on this day, so I chopped them in my Cuisinart mini processor

It’s all about balance in this slaw, so tasting throughout is very important

The colourful dry ingredients above.

By keeping the ‘wet’ ingredients separate to the ‘dry’ you will preserve the freshness of this slaw and be able to stretch it out over a week

It’s all about balance of flavours.

The dressing is sweet, tart, tangy and a bit spicy

I had a luncheon of grilled shrimp and the slaw. YUM YUM YUM!

The assembly with the pickled onions, watercress and grilled shrimp

Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw, AKA 19 Ingredient Slaw

Serve 8-10 (please click here to see the original unadulterated recipe)


Pickled Red Onion (make 2 days ahead):

  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly on a mandoline
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme

Salted Apricot Dressing (make 2 days ahead):

  • 1 cup dried apricot
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (taste and adjust)
  • lime juice (to taste) I find the dressing a little sweet and the lime juice helps cut it, but you must taste it to be sure there is balance.

For the Singapore Slaw Salad:

  • 1 pickled red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Apricot Dressing
  • 1 large English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 medium sized mango, firm but not soft, peeled and julienned
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb, julienned (this is my addition)
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, julienned (this is my addition)
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (to dress)
  • handful of watercress (to dress)

For the herb mix:

  • 1/2 cup of Thai basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, green and white parts, finely chopped


  1. Make the pickled onion and dressing 2 days ahead, so it has time to develop the flavours, plus it will take the pressure off having to do everything in one day. Store both in the refrigerator.

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  1. Peel and julienne red onion and set aside in a medium bowl. In small saucepan, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Season with salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaf, and thyme; continue boiling for another 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a heat proof jar while hot and let sit for at least 1 hour or two days in the fridge.

For the Salted Apricot Dressing:

  1. In an immersion blender container, combine the dried apricot, vinegar, mirin, onion, sugar, ginger, and salt. Purée until smooth. Taste and add lime juice and additional sugar if necessary.


  • A mandolin with a fine julienne attachment is a MUST. I use my Borner Roko Vegetable Shredder. Part of the beauty of this slaw is that all the ingredients are julienned uniformly, plus you’ll be standing for a very long time if you have to do this by hand! You need not clean it out between shredding as it all goes into the same pot.
  • Get yourself two large bowls and one medium sized bowl. One large bowl is for your ‘dry’ ingredients and one is for the peelings; the medium sized bowl is for your wet ingredients.

For the Singapore Slaw Salad:

  1. Julienne the wet ingredients first mango and cucumber, as there are only two, combine well and cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Julienne the ‘dry’ ingredients: carrot, jicama, fennel and purple cabbage, combine well and set aside.
  3. Wash and dry all the herbs for the herb mix, including the green onion. Add to a little food processor (I find the fuller it is the better) and processes until all the herbs are finely chopped. Add to the “dry” ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.


  1. In a new bowl, take 2/3 of the “dry” ingredients and 1/3 of the “wet” and combine thoroughly. Dress with about 1/4 of the dressing (start small and increase as required) and combine well. Serve on a platter, piled high in the centre. Sprinkle sesame seeds overall and dress with the watercress leaves. Add the pickled onion over the summit to curl here and there (you don’t need a lot, just a few strands). Serve immediately with grilled chicken, grilled steak (please see Lorraine’s amazing technique for a full flavoured steak here), tofu or shrimp.

Thai Marinated Steak:

Prepare your steak just as Lorraine shows you in her blog here (don’t worry, it works like a charm!). Once it has aged for a couple of days, marinate it in the marinade below for a few hours.


  • 50 mL lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems and roots
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped


  1. Combine the ingredients in the bowl of an immersion blender and blitz until smooth.
  2. Pour over the aged steak and refrigerate. Turn the steak throughout the day occassionally.
  3. Remove steak from fridge for about 1 hour to bring to room temperature before grilling.
  4. Follow Lorraine’s instructions on grilling.

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My friends Angela and Gordon (the couple for whom this menu was served) gave me a book for my birthday, called Beaten, Seared and Sauced by Jonathan Dixon. It is a book about Johnathon, a late 30’s guy trying to find himself at the Culinary Institute of America in the Hudson Valley, chronicling the trials and tribulations of his journey through cooking school. It’s not like ’50 Shades’ where I couldn’t put it down, but his writing is compelling enough that I missed my streetcar stop twice already! I thought I would start this post with this quote that really defines how I cook; to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it really is me:

“If you follow a recipe blindly, you’re never going to really get that recipe into your blood. You need to memorize it, envision it, see it in your head. Then you’re going to be cooking.” Page 139 Beaten, Seared and Sauced, by Jonathan Dixon.

Well, I may not actually memorize the recipe, but I do get a sense of the recipe and where I want to take it and work through it from memory. Of course,  no one is grading me either! Thanks for the book Angela and Gordon, I’m almost finished it!

Greg, Greg, Greg. Your posts seem to get into my head and just keep playing over and over like one of those songs that you just can’t stop singing (you know what I mean, Kristy). I’m not saying that it’s bad, but let’s just say that it can complicate things. Case in point, I thought I was done, finished, انتهى, fertig, kész, terminado  (well, you get what I mean) with my weekend dinner party menu; I had a great hors d’œuvres, a great appetizer and an equally delicious and light main and a fantastic dessert. And then I remembered that post for Lemon Basil Granita Greg did. You know what it’s like? It’s like you’re almost finished in the kitchen; you’re tired, your back aches and all you want to do is sit down. And then it happens. You know what I mean: you glance up at the big ol’ wall clock and say, “Oh, I still have time, I can make XXX!” Well, that’s what happened to me on Saturday. I had just finished cleaning up, put the last of the dishes away and wham-o, Greg’s granita invaded my head. I had no choice but to make it, or something similar to it. My dinner theme was more Asian fusion so I switched up the flavours to represent Asian flavours and I reduced the sugar as I was using this course as a palate cleanser and not a dessert. The result was very refreshing and tasty. I will keep this recipe and will make it again.

It was over 30°C (86°F) on Saturday, so I didn’t want to fill all the glasses for fear they would melt and I’d have to start again. So there you have it.

The lemongrass and Thai basil infused simple syrup flavoured the ice perfectly to cleanes the palate and refresh to get us ready for the main course.

The subtle lemongrass and Thai basil was a refreshing palate cleanser after the roasted red pepper soup

Lemongrass and Thai Basil Granita

Inspired by Greg at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide

Serves 4-6 depending on size of glass, our glasses were just over 60 mL or 1/4 cup each


  • 1/4 cup finely chopped lemongrass, packed
  • 25-30 Thai Basil leaves, washed
  • 2-4 tbsp granulated sugar, to taste
  • 150 mL water
  • 150 mL water
  • 50 mL lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar, to taste


  1. In a small sauce pan, add 150mL water, sugar and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, (taste and add more sugar if required) reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes so it is reduced a bit. Remove from heat and add the Thai basil leaves, really immersing them in the hot liquid. Cover and allow to cool; refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a small, freezable container, add 150mL water, lemon juice and 1 tbsp icing sugar and mix well. Taste and add sugar as required.
  3. Strain the lemongrass syrup and add to the lemon juice and water, mix well. Taste and add additional icing sugar if required.
  4. Freeze for 3-4 hours; loosen granules with a fork once it begins to freeze to get the beautiful shaved ice.
  5. Serve in a pretty vintage glass with a garnish of Thai Basil or mint.

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