A Dud?

I can’t, in good conscience, call this recipe a dud.  I can’t call it a success either.  I almost bagged the post, throwing it in the trash along with the leftover salad.  But, after thinking it over, I realized that the dudliness of this Thai-inspired cantaloupe salad was based on a lot of variables.

First of all, when I was planning dinner for Tuesday night, I (silly me) forgot to decide upon (or shop for) the main dish part of the meal to which this would be a side.  I don’t know, maybe I was figuring that a cantaloupe salad would be enough to satisfy Jim’s and my anxious and hungry stomachs after a long day of work.  Maybe I thought that we had miraculously turned into starving waifs, though I can’t make out anything “Mary-Kate Olsen” about me when I look in the mirror, and once I got home and began to prepare dinner, Jim knocked me (metaphorically) upside the head and decided to go out for some sandwiches to compliment my pretty, but not so satisfying salad.  I forgot to explain the salad’s flavors to him—sweet, spicy, umami, and he came home with steak and provolone on brioche; sandwiches that were undeniably tasty, but did not at all go with my creation.

Secondly, jalapeno is one of the ingredients.  If you work with jalapeno often, you know that every one differs from the next.  Kind of like a snowflake, but it burns your tongue instead of cooling it.

The jalapeno that I used was searing.  It completely overwhelmed the subtle basil flavor and heightened the sweetness to cloying.  I had to add some heavy cream to cut the heat but after a few very tasty, nuanced bites, the spicy-factor overwhelmed the cream and it became too hot again.

And finally, since I had burned my fingers dicing the jalapeno (I will remember to by gloves, I will) and then burned my eyes when I rubbed my fingers in them (yes, I am that stupid) I wasn’t in the mood for any more spiciness.  I stopped eating after a bite or two and declared the recipe a dud.

But it would be silly to think that.  Just because I wasn’t feeling it, doesn’t mean you won’t.  Maybe my spicy-tolerance is way lower than I thought and I really am a weeny.  Maybe you’ll get your hands on a mellower jalapeno.  I did have a few wonderfully complex bites and if the spiciness factor was decreased I’m sure that complexity would shine.  An ya’know, it comes from The Splendid Table, and Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s never let me down before.

So I urge you to go ahead and try this recipe while cantaloupes are still ripe and good.  If I try it again, it’ll be with a char-grilled steak or burger or with some crispy-skinned salmon.  Just don’t rub your eyes after dicing the jalapeno!!

Thai Cantaloupe Salad with Chile

from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper

serves 8

  • 1 medium to large ripe, fragrant cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 tablespoon fine-diced seeded green jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup stacked and thin-sliced fresh Thai, Cinnamon, Spicy Globe, or regular basil leaves*
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 drops Asian fish sauce
  • Generous pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper

In a mixing bowl, gently combine the melon, jalapeno, and basil.  One at a time, add the remaining ingredients, tasting as you add each one.  Set out in a bowl with long bamboo skewers so diners can spear chuncks of melon to eat.

*I used regular, but imagine Thai would make things even more complex.

You can also satisfy your fruitiness with:

Watercress & Mango Salad

Peach Puff Pastry Pizza

12 thoughts on “A Dud?”

  1. I’ve been heavily enjoying massive amounts of heat lately, especially at the new Thai place in my area, which is the now the best Thai place in the County.

    Anyway. So yeah, you never know. This might work differently for someone else.

    and then burned my eyes when I rubbed my fingers in them (yes, I am that stupid)

    One of my other blog friends did that last week and I did it twice – with habaneros, no less – before I did it no more. OOOWWWW.

  2. Thanks! Me too. 😉

    And funny thing – I minced a jalapeno tonight for both marinade for my flank steak and ingredient for my rice and I only remembered to put gloves on because of your post fresh on my mind. 😀 Thankfully!

  3. I grabbed “How To Eat Supper” from the library and have been eyeing all the recipes. But for some reason, Ihave no energy to actually make any of them. They look good and sounds tasty, but I have yet to make one recipe from the book. I officially suck 🙂 But your cantalope salad sounds good. Maybe it will entice me to actually make something different since my staple stir fry broccoli with italian sausage is gettting old…

  4. I think I’ve become immune to the burnt fingers; I don’t glove unless it’s a scotch bonnet. But I have burned my eyes before, not fun.

    The salad sounds great. Even seeded the pepper was still that hot? Wow. My wife would probably like it seeded and all. I am pretty sure that she has functional taste buds, but she can tolerate a LOT of heat.

  5. At least your jalapeno pepper was awfully photogenic 🙂 That’s a beautiful close-up shot you snapped.

    I wonder if the salad would be best tried first with no jalapeno? Or you could dice it into a little serving bowl and let people doctor their salad as they like? I can see how cantaloupe and basil might be overwhelmed by spiciness.

  6. Rose-Anne: I think you’re on to something! 😉 In hindsight, the salad definitely should be tried sans-jalapeno (or with a milder chile) first.

  7. Hmmmm – very interesting recipe!
    I have a friend who I pass on all of my books too, whether I liked them or not. She sometimes loves books I hated and hates books I love. You just never know!

  8. Was just over at a friend’s house and she had these peppers that were so !%)(U&!)%$ hot if you touched the tip of your knife to just the cutting board where the pepper touched, and touched that tip of the knife to your lip, YOUR LIP BURSTS IN SPONTANEOUS FIRE.

  9. Hey, there’s a new website about to launch called Behind the Burner: it features exclusive tips on products and cooking techniques, as well as video demonstrations with New York City’s best chefs! Be sure to check out the website, http://www.behindtheburner.com, where you can sign up for email updates and more info.

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