geniuscook.com_-01Food is evocative of past memories, and, I think, of the lives we want to lead. That’s why we love food magazines and blogs and fall in love with talented chefs. My always-food-crush is Australian chef Neil Perry, whose simple, passionate style of cooking just makes me want to live more fully! Try his Iceberg Lettuce and Mushroom Salad this week and let me know if you agree…

Neil Perry’s Iceberg Lettuce and Mushroom Salad

For the salad

1 large wedge iceberg lettuce, washed and dried
2 tbsp peanut oil
200g assorted mushrooms, cut into even-sized pieces
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 handful combined mint and coriander leaves
1 spring onion, julienned
2 French shallots, peeled, finely sliced and deep-fried until golden
1 tsp ground roast rice (see note)

For the dressing

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
3 coriander roots, scraped and chopped
2 small wild green (bird’s eye) chillies, roughly chopped
pinch of sea salt
pinch of caster sugar

3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce

1 For the dressing, pound the garlic and coriander roots in a mortar with a pestle until quite fine, then add the chillies and pound a little further. Add the salt and sugar to form a paste. Add the lime juice and fish sauce and taste to balance, adjusting if necessary.
2 Shred the iceberg lettuce and place on a plate.
3 Heat a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the oil and, when hot, stir-fry the mushrooms and onion for 30-60 seconds or until just starting to soften. Remove from the heat. Add the dressing, herbs and spring onion and toss together. Spoon the mixture over the lettuce. Sprinkle the salad with the fried brown shallots and ground roast rice to serve.

Note: To make ground roast rice, place a thin layer of uncooked jasmine rice in a frying pan over low heat or in a 150°C oven and toast until it becomes opaque but not coloured. When cool, grind finely in a mortar with a pestle.

Adapted from Simply Good Food by Neil Perry, published by Murdoch Books.