This is my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging round up. This blogging event was started by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen. The round up is hosted this week by Kalyn herself - be sure to pop by to see what other bloggers have come up with.
We tend to eat more salads in the summer - it may be because I am too damn hot to cook or it may be that there are lots of fresh ingredients to toss . . . all I know is that I am searching for more salads to make throughout the summer. Last Sunday it was Paul's turn to cook and he decided upon a stir fry that had Thai influences. We looked for a salad to try that would pair with the flavourings however we wanted something different than the usual mago salad we whip up with thai foods.
I found this recipe for a cucumber salad on the epicurious web site. It looked like just the thing for a hot summer evening. It was easy to prepare and the taste was wonderful - mom, who was over for dinner, loved it! All of the hallmark layers of Thai foods were present which made this salad explode with taste in your mouth.
Thai Cucumber Salad
Thai Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)*
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili (about 1 large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 English hothouse cucumbers, halved, seeded, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sliced red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts
Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Place cucumbers, onion, and mint in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.
One of the key ingredients to this recipe is the mint. Whichever way one eats it, drinks it, or prepares it, mint is an herb with many beneficial uses for good health. In fact, the reason most of our ancestors grew this pungent herb was for its many health benefits. Even today, naturalist still employ peppermint to treat gallstones, irritable bowel syndrome and the common cold.
The herb, mint, belongs to a large family with over 30 species, the most common being peppermint and spearmint.
Native to the Mediterranean and Western Asia, mints interbreed often, making it difficult for even an expert to distinguish all the varieties. All mints contain the volatile oil menthol, which gives mint that characteristic cooling, cleansing feeling.
The Greeks believed mints could clear the voice and cure hiccups. In fact, mint is part of Greek mythology and according to legend - "Menthe" originally a nymph, and Pluto's lover angered Pluto's wife, Persephone, who in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trod upon. Pluto, unable to undo the spell, was able to soften it by giving Minthe a sweet scent, which would perfume the air when her leaves were stepped on - thus aromatic herb Mint.
Mint is a perennial and its seeds can be sowed in flats or in the ground. Once the tenacious herbs take hold in your garden, it is very easy to propagate them by cuttings and transplanting once the root system is well established. Mint needs humid soil and only moderate sunshine. It will grow in, out and around all garden plants, not unlike a weed, this herb is tenacious and dedicated to spreading through the garden. The trick is to continuously cut it back and restrict growth. Otherwise this herb will spread like wild fire through your garden in the form of strong willed runners. Frequently cutting or mowing of large plots will keep mints at their prettiest. In late fall, cut back to the ground and mulch if winters are severe. Roses make good companion plants.
Mint can be grown in pots and planted with other herbs. And according to legend this is a good herb for keeping ants away from doors and combating mice and fleas. I have a pot growing near the front door - as people brush against the leaves the fresh scent is released.