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Yum takrai (lemon grass with dried shrimp and cashew)

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Yum takrai (lemon grass with dried shrimp and cashew)
(Los Angeles Times)
1

Crack the coconut and cut away pieces of the meat, then use a vegetable peeler to make thin (1-inch) strips until you have about one-third cup of thin strips. Toast the coconut strips on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 17 minutes until golden. Remove, cool and set aside.

2

Combine the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and let stand while preparing the salad. Taste and add more sugar, if desired.

3

Cut off the root end of the lemon grass stalks and discard. Use 6 inches of the lower part for the salad. Discard the rest, or save for another use. Remove the coarse outer layers of each stalk. With a very sharp knife, slice the lemon grass stalks crosswise as fine as possible. There should be about 1 1/2 cups sliced lemon grass.

4

Peel the shallots; quarter them lengthwise, then slice thinly. Trim the root end of the green onions and cut off part of the green end, leaving 1 inch of the green part. Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then slice thinly.

5

Heat the oil in a small skillet. Fry the cashews until golden, about 50 seconds. Drain on paper towels. Fry the dried shrimp until crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

6

In a bowl, combine the cashews, shrimp, lemon grass, shallots and green onions. Just before serving, add the small pieces of Thai chile to the lime juice-fish sauce dressing, pour over the salad and toss well.

7

Place a large romaine leaf on a serving plate. Spoon the salad onto the leaf. Sprinkle on the coconut strips. Prepare a plate of tender romaine leaves (or the top halves of romaine leaves, center ribs removed).

8

To eat, use your hands to shape a piece of lettuce into a little cup, spoon salad into the lettuce, wrap and eat.

This salad is from chef Varin Maturavaj and Luyong Kunaksorn, co-owners of the A-Roy Thai restaurants in Singapore. You can substitute one-third cup unsweetened toasted coconut (available in Asian markets) for the fresh coconut.

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