I don’t think America will have really made it until we have our own salad dressing. Until then we’re stuck behind the French, Italians, Russians and Caesarians.
Ok. So we all know that recipe.
If we don’t know one, we know of one.
The recipe everyone wants. That thing you made for a party one time that somehow became your legacy. The one thing that seems to resonate with everyone that tries it, even people who are not keen to having such delights. This recipe has the power to make you popular, which would have been awesome some 15 years ago, but now that you know better it’s a bit of a let down. It may have been handed down for generations; possibly found in a bottle floating in the Mediterranean or maybe it was just off of some blog… No one really knows but you, and since people act like this is the recipe that can spark love, cure diseases and save the world, you can look forward to getting stuck having to make it all the time.
All. The. Time.
Case in point: Look at the comment in my last post by my sister, asking for this recipe. I speak the truth!
Now, I’m not bragging or anything, but I have 3 or 4 of said recipes. A burden, I know. I’ve acquired and mentally recorded them from various places and times in my life, like any good cook would do. Trust me, I’ll let you know when I’m giving you one of these bad boys, so don’t fret about missing them. This one in particular though is special because it was one of the first recipes I ever learned in my career. And even back then the wetness behind my ears didn’t stop me from knowing that this was a keeper.
It may be hard to comprehend why it’s such a big deal, but once you taste it, you’ll understand that this is no ordinary… salad dressing.
Yes, yes. I said salad dressing. Wai.. Wait! Come on, hear me out, give it a chance.
This dressing – or, The Sauce, as I like to refer to it – is practically liquid gold. Ever since the first time I made it and tasted it, the dancing it did on my taste buds made me feel like a kid again. The sweetness that it packs is front and center, but it can’t mask the peppery kick that really brings it home. So simple, yet so rich and enticing, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re disappointed it’s not part of the main course.
It’s perfect for salads but could also be used for dipping fried shrimp or spring rolls, the dressing in chicken or fish wraps, or my favorite place to splatter it, inside quesadillas. There are so many uses for this nectar of the Gods, using it just for salads would be doing it an injustice. Although, it is a vinaigrette at heart, which means it does have limits. Like don’t go trying to heat it up or anything, it’ll just end in you crying over a messy pan.
So here I am, giving it to you. I hope you appreciate it the way I have, and I hope you enjoy it. I know you’re probably thinking I’m building this up too much. Already counting on The Sauce being a disappointment or that you’re not going to be skilled enough to make it. Well, first, The Sauce will never disappoint anybody, so never doubt it again! And secondly, it’s so easy to make, it’s stupid…
Chili Lime Vinaigrette (The Sauce)
If you’ve never used Sweet Thai Chili Sauce before, you’re in for a treat. The sweetness it has along with the spiciness from the chili are reasons to have it pumping into your blood stream. It comes in a bottle that looks like this:
I’ve bought tiny, 6 oz bottles of this in the regular grocery store’s ethnic aisle for a gut wrenching $7 or so. But here’s a tip…
If you live near a fairly big city, odds are you have a Little Saigon, or at the least an Asian market somewhere in your area. My advice is to find it (which you should have done already), casually stroll into one of the numerous markets you’ll find bustling with culture (seriously, you haven’t done this?!), and find a bottle with stuff that looks like what’s pictured above for a whopping $4. Where I lived in Orlando, we had an entire district full of restaurants and markets just 5 minutes down the street. It’s a community rich with culture, diversity and food that I did not take advantage of like I should have.
Now that you know what you’re looking for and where to find it, you have no excuse.
To make it, I highly recommend a food processor or stick blender for this. Or even a regular blender, it doesn’t matter. It can be done by hand, and it’ll taste exactly the same, but you won’t get the desired emulsion and it will always separate, causing you to shake it up before each use. Plus if you do it by hand, you’ll have to chop the garlic and cilantro with a knife, and nobody likes manual labor…
So I’m assuming you have a food processor or at least a blender. Here’s what you do:
- Rip off half a bunch of cilantro and wash it! The stuff I’ve seen come off of cilantro is no laughing matter. After it’s washed, throw it in the machine with the garlic cloves and chop it up.
- Once it’s all chopped, add the chili sauce, lime juice, and sugar. It should look something like this:
- Turn on the food processor and sloooooooowly add the oil. A nice thin drizzle till it’s all gone. Then a pinch of salt and pepper and… That’s it!
Taste it to see if it needs more salt and pepper, but other than that, it’s finished.
If you need somewhere to put it just pour it back into an empty oil container. I always make enough that uses a whole bottle of oil so in there it goes, or you can give it away in mason jars if you need new friends. Store it in the fridge for about 2 weeks. If it lasts that long.
Good right? Easy? I know. Now, stop embarrassing yourself, and take the straw out of food processor. No one’s around, huh? Ok, fine. At least unplug the damn thing.