Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet & Salty & Spicy

It's funny how a feature of one cuisine can jump out at you and remind you of a cuisine on the far side of the world from that one. This happened when Himself and I noshed at Lotería, a Mexican restaurant in Hollywood this past weekend. To drink, he ordered a michelada de mango, a combination of beer with fruit juices. One sip and I was ordering my own.

This one was a mixture of Cerveza Sol with mango and lime juices. While the combo of beer and fruit juices was appealing, what really won me over was the rim, which was coated with a mixture of salt and crushed chili peppers. It reminded me of Thailand's prik kab kleua, a dry mix of salt, sugar and crushed hot chilis that you dip slices of fresh fruit into. Most every meal I've had in Thailand has ended with a platter of fresh fruit and a bowl of this sweet-salty-spicy mixture.

fresh watermelon, pineapple and papaya with a dish of prik kab kleua

prik kab kleua with star fruit
As you can see, the first mixture is much lighter than the one just above. No two batches will be exactly the same--it's all up to the individual taste of the person preparing it. And if the fruit isn't quite in season, a little extra sugar helps balance out the blend.

While the coating on the rim of the glass of michelada didn't contain sugar, the aim was essentially the same--to mix the sweetness of fruit with saltiness and spicy heat. It's refreshing, hydrating and cooling on a hot day. Even if it's not especially hot, it's still a winning combination.

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